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'Intelligence plus character – that is the true goal of education’ - Sept 2019
So said Martin Luther King and we have recently been looking at how our values are lived out by the students with whom we work every day. At our school we have 4 values (Wisdom, Hope, Community & Dignity) that we use to underpin our decisions as often as possible, and they are based on the Anglican ‘ecology for education’ in church schools. These have proved to be helpful, but they are sometimes hard to explain to children about what that means for them, how they translate into their character and attitudes that they should aspire to.
‘Character education includes all the explicit and implicit educational activities that help young people develop positive personal strengths called virtues…. In this process the ultimate aim of character education is the development of good sense or practical wisdom.’ Jubilee Centre 2017
So we decided as a staff team in the summer term to define what characteristics we would want our students to have; what traits and attitudes will help underpin their knowledge and skills, and enable them to contribute to our school and the world beyond through the development of their character. This is what we came up with:
Independent – Using what you have learnt from others to make mature decisions and be able to think for yourself
Courageous – Being confident to stand up for what is right, trying new things, taking a risk and making oneself vulnerable.
Determined – Keeping going when it is challenging or when tempted to give up.
Ambitious – Seeking to flourish and thrive in the fullest sense; in values, relationships and contribution as well as outcomes.
Compassionate – Feeling another’s pain and doing something about it.
Open minded – Being curious and willing to see the world from other peoples’ perspective, perhaps even changing your own views.
Respectful – Treating other people as you would like to be treated, even when this is hard.
Creative – Using all your experience and learning to devise new ways of looking at the world.
Two things fall out of this work, and we are in the early stages at the moment of this development. Firstly, the idea of what is taught and what is caught. Some of these we can deliberately plan for, explain to our students and help them develop areas where they may feel lacking (taught), and there will be many that exist already in our provision or students’ own experiences and can be identified and recorded (caught). Secondly, while these are crucial concepts to the adults in the school they will be hard for many children to understand so we will need to explain, articulate, contextualise and exemplify what these mean and why they matter. Our challenge is to bring these concepts to life in our school and enable our students to recognise and capture them in their experience, so they are able to see them in their own and others’ lives and behaviours. Through this process we think our children will learn to truly flourish at our school.