Imagine a world where people do not have character. A world where life choices are based solely on probability, logic and pragmatism. What a cold, emotionless world it would be.
Of course, this world does not exist. A person’s character is a critical factor in every decision they make. It is present in the big life-changing decisions as well as the small everyday choices. Character is the combination of how a person’s thoughts and feelings are ultimately expressed in life and in their community.
Every person has character, but it doesn’t magically appear fully formed when a child reaches a significant milestone like entering high school, at puberty or on their 18th birthday.
So, can ‘character’ be taught, or is it only ever caught?
At The Scots College Early Learning Centre, we know that character can be taught as well as modelled by teachers. We believe all boys come with enormous potential, all boys grow when they are in community with others, and they all have character. It’s a given. When permitted to grow, be nurtured and refined, character offers great benefits for the boy’s community, their family and for themselves.
For young learners it takes practice to become familiar with feelings they have and the outcomes of the actions they take. It is a learning process to understand which feelings are good to react to and which feelings need to be redirected to other actions or better responses. They need time to try and find the best match for their feelings and actions, what will work for them and the community they live in. Little boys need times to play safely in trusting relationships with wise guides. This is the canvas on which character can be taught.
Character education is far more than a good moral education, it’s about forming a whole person to live well in a community, and it flourishes in a strong partnership between school and family.
At The Scots College, we practice respect, kindness, integrity and faith in action. In the classroom, we can see examples when we look at boy’s feelings, actions and the greater good. But it is not always obvious. Here is a real-life example of character education with a group of four-year-olds at the Early Learning Centre.
A boy comments that turtles might eat plastic bags because they look like jellyfish. His classmates also become concerned and feel sad for the turtles. The teacher asked the boys, “What do we do with these feelings?” Discussion followed and ideas started to develop. The boys decided that plastic bags need to come out of the water and stop plastic bags being used. The boys designed shopping bags that could be given to family and friends, and with a little enterprise they could also be sold. Grandmothers were enlisted to sew bags and the artists of the class rallied to design messages and pictures to decorate the bags. The boys took their bags home from class to share with their families.
This is an everyday example of building character. The boys were able to share their feelings, decide how to respond and then to lead change within their immediate communities. At The Scots College Early Learning Centre we choose to take time to be explicit about how to do this tricky thing called growing character.
We believe all boys have character and want to help them nurture it to be healthy, whole young men with brave hearts and bold minds living their lives for the greater good.
At The Scots College, we strive to foster brave hearts and bold minds in every Scots boy through challenges and passion born of adventure. We value the quest for excellence through adventure, curiosity, creativity and growth.
Learn more about the Quest for Excellence and download the Brave Hearts Bold Minds handbook.
Mrs Gaye Entwistle
Head of Early Learning