What are the most important traits to develop in students?
At the end of high school, what would you want your teenager to know?
What character attributes will help teenagers succeed beyond school into the journey of life?
These questions are different from ‘outcome’ based education, which is based on content knowledge.
Instead, they ask the larger, more complicated questions that have no specific answer.
Yet, the quantifiable often gets the nod over those things that are difficult to measure and assess.
In a recent New York Times article, some schools have determined that building character is more important than building curriculum, and are backing that goal up with new initiatives.
What are the essential qualities to build character? Leadership?
Most of us recognize that the turmoil of years past, with ethical missteps and outright criminal behavior being acted out in the public arena, by formerly esteemed individuals, we need to really think about how to instill character-building activities in our youth.
Schools are stepping up to the plate, and regardless of how little or much parents are doing, most see this as a good thing.
One Chicago school professional labeled character traits as “resilience, integrity, resourcefulness, professionalism and ambition” which lead to leadership skills.
But this change will take time. What does exist now, are experiences for teens that work on these very things. Think scouting, faith-based after school education, and informal leadership activities like youth groups.
So, if you agree with this concept, that we need to pay attention to character traits (however you define them), your task as a parent and/or educator is to create opportunities for these traits to flourish. Starting now is a good idea.
- Building Good Character in Teens: Lead by Example (parentingwithallthepieces.typepad.com)
- What’s a Teacher to Do? Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed (siobhancurious.com)
- ‘Children Succeed’ With Character, Not Test Scores (wnyc.org)
- Jewish Parents: Choose your teen’s activities wisely (jteennews.wordpress.com)