All schools aim to promote good character. Of course they do. While some commentators suggest character education is pointless, personally I would see any education that does not extend to character as pointless – and even dangerous. People with skills, knowledge and no moral compass rarely make the world a better place.
I want children to think about, focus on and debate vigorously what is right and wrong, what makes for a good life, what it is worth living and working for. And to be surrounded by teachers who do the same.
When I trained to teach, we were taught that the environment is an essential teaching tool – another teacher, in fact. To that end, I think it is essential that the environment in which children are educated reflects character as well as the finer points of the correct use of the semi-colon. And by environment I mean what the children can SEE and what they can HEAR. I would like them to hear and talk about concepts like love and kindness, courage and honesty, as well as to hear and discuss algebra and music, literature and history.
So, how do you embed that ephemeral concept, #character, not just into the curriculum, but into the ENVIRONMENT of the school? In other words, how do we put #theory into #practice?
One suggestion is to have a dedicated place in the school environment where #strengths are highlighted and featured in words and pictures – a #Strengths Display Board, if you like. That is what Downshall Primary in Ilford are planning to do.
So, what might a Strengths Display Board look like?
Here’s one suggestion
Strength of the week: Creativity
This week we spotted the following people being CREATIVE – well done them!
Kevin, Ahmed, Lisa….Mrs Brown
Creativity is one of my favorite strengths and here’s how I use it ….
Jenny: I use it to think of stories to write
Ian: I use it in maths to work out new ways to get the right answer
Mr Brown: I use it to think of new games to teach music
Whole School Strengths Practice – ‘Strange Uses’ (from Character Strengths Assemblies, p. 11) – who’s done it?
Fred, Ginger, Mrs Brown, Jenny the caretaker……
The ‘Whole School Strengths Practice’ idea can be found (shameless resource plug) in here
The idea is to get EVERYONE in the school thinking about and having a go at the same simple strengths practice and to sign the Strengths Display Board when they’ve done it.
We get more of what we focus on!
I think that the visible and audible presence of #character strengths in schools is not only desirable, but is essential for a school that takes seriously its moral purpose, as well as the goal of getting them to read, write and add up. The Strengths Display Board is one way to do that.
Fox Eades, Jenny 2013 Character Strengths Assemblies. Notts: TTS available here