Kids and character: I don’t want to complain, so let’s think of a way to fix it

by Mr. Sheehy

In a moment of down time this week I picked up a copy of Michael Farris’s The Home Schooling Father, a book I borrowed from someone at church. While I am aware of the irony of my (our) desire to provide our children’s education here at home, it is something we are surely going to do. I have lots of reasons for it and may well share them here someday, but that day is not today.

Instead, I am drawn in by a section in the book where Mr. Farris discusses character traits that he is finding increasingly rare in the workplace. He has discovered this through the years as “the boss,” and he shares a list of four things in particular. The list is not surprising to anyone who has hung out with teachers during a few lunch periods or anyone who has seen what the laptop cart looks like after my classes have put their computers away, but I’m aiming to revisit them in a positive manner:

  1. Respect for authority
  2. Taking initiative
  3. Striving for excellence
  4. Willingness to work hard

To Farris’s definite credit, he presents these four items not as a complaint about the dearth of them in our culture, but as characteristics we as parents should craft intentionally and thoroughly in our children. He presents ideas for how one could inculcate each trait, and it’s that pro-active approach I too would like to take with these four items.

How, I am asking myself, can I reinforce these traits for students in my classroom? I know I cannot actually implant them–if families have not worked on these thus far, the damage is done–but it seems to me that I can be a more effective support for those who are attempting to establish patterns of these traits in their children’s lives.

The beginning of the year is approaching and the dominant experience for me during the pre-student days is “person talking, brain drifting.” That drifting becomes a more interesting experience when I have some topic upon which I can dwell, an idea where I can concoct a formula for my approach to it. This year I think I’ll write these four traits on an index card and carry them around during my meetings. It’ll remind me to drift productively, and I’ll attempt to think of ways I can intentionally address such important human characteristics in my classroom.

I’ll give you the report later.

Thanks for reading.