Whatever Happened to Character

We had a professional learning day today. The speaker was inspiring, clear and thoughtful, talking about what it means to equip and prepare kids to thrive in the 21st century. It was all good stuff and certainly had staff talking and thinking outside the box – always a good thing.

But something felt amiss

It took me a while to work it out but the issue crystallised for me when the speaker asked the staff to come up with 3 things that they wanted to teach and impart to their kids. They were then asked to share those answers.

He got the usual answers that ranged from communication, collaboration, problem solving, creativity, innovation, initiative, responsive, active learners, resilience… all the responses that you can get from teachers in a seminar like this.

No-one mentioned character!

Someone came close, they mentioned ‘ethics’, 1 answer out of some 50 responses.

Yesterday a number of news outlets ran the story of a bunch of high school students who had created their own version of ‘Fight Club’, engaging in an all-out brawl while other students videoed the fights on their iPhones and the uploaded them to Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. The general community were rightly outraged, the police called in and an investigation started.

These kids demonstrated creativity, collaboration, innovation etc, even resilience (I’m assuming you have to be to participate) and probably problem solving (they managed to keep it secret for quite a while).

What was missing was character! The capacity to discern right from wrong, the ability to stand for what was good – even when others around you are engaged in bad stuff and urging you to join them. The strength of mind and heart to stand for what is right.

There was nothing wrong with any of the responses I heard, they are good and necessary in this day and age, and I’m sure we all want these things for our kids. I want those things for my kids!

But I also want my kids to have good character, to be discerning, to stand up for what’s right, to ‘act justly and to love mercy’ as the Old Testament talks about.

And I was left wondering today: What will happen to a generation of kids that can create, innovate, solve problems, collaborate, respond and communicate, but do not know how to tell right from wrong, good from evil, and to choose what is right?

About andy63

Auditorium/Facilities Manager at Kennedy Baptist College. Family man, Dockers Supporter, NFL and NBA tragic who loves the Red Bull Air Race and a good meal. A Christian who is grateful for grace and forgiveness and the fact that Jesus is alive.

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