“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education”. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Academic success is important and every good school will ensure that there is a healthy degree of focus on this as it opens doors to pupils and allows them to move on into tertiary education or the world of employment. However, I am convinced that as our pupils move through life, the thing that will really matter and will really make a difference to their happiness and their success is their character. As a Headmaster I believe that it is possible for character to be both “taught” and “caught”. I am not advocating introducing “Character Lessons”, but I do genuinely believe that, as a school, we are constantly involved in shaping the form and nature of the character of our pupils as we teach them. Every time we explain to a pupil why poor behaviour is not going to be tolerated; every time we praise a pupil for the efforts they have made; every time we encourage a pupil who is finding something difficult; every time we do these and a myriad other things, we are developing their character.
This term, in my Monday morning assemblies I am going to be sharing my thoughts on this theme which has been based on extensive reading of the resources coming out of the Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues at the University of Birmingham (http://www.jubileecentre.ac.uk/) . If, like me, you have an interest in the formation of the characters of young people, this is an excellent source of some very interesting reading.
I also believe that character can be “caught”; so much of what young people learn is what they see adults around them doing, at home, in school and in wider society. If they spend hours watching inane, prurient and pointless television shows like “Love Island” or “Bromans”, is it any wonder that they do not understand how to interact with the opposite sex appropriately? Those of us who are parents know that as we watch our children grow up, we quickly begin to see some of our character traits developing in our children, because we model behaviour to them. If we lie, cheat, gossip and slander, we cannot be surprised if our children start to do the same. If we are honest, kind, gracious and patient, we will be delighted to see the same aspects of character developing in our children. Being aware of the impact we are having on the young people around us is absolutely crucial for schools and teachers as our behaviour is being observed constantly by our pupils, many of whom may go on to model our behaviours.
I hope that some of this term’s assemblies will be filmed and the video clips will be made available on the website and on our social media streams. I am looking forward to exploring “character” this term.