The role of a teacher stretches past teaching subject knowledge. It’s a position which means more than passing on information regarding history, geography, maths and science. The classroom is a sea of opportunity for pupils to spend their time developing strengths such as fairness, hope, courage and a sense of adventure which will give them a life of fulfilment.
A good teacher will see this aspect of learning as a natural part of their job and they will look at the development of individual character strengths and the equipping of personality skills as something they are carrying out on behalf of each child they work with.
Building a positive character in a child or teenager is a joint responsibility which involves the family, the school and the local community. Parents can empower their child with character strengths through the way they praise and show how to recognise character strengths in their siblings and peers and the school can create a learning environment which focuses on the importance of character as a natural part of the teaching day. The classroom becomes a centre of confidence, respect for all, engagement in the teaching activities and peer collaboration.
Goals to set to enhance positive character strengths
There are four goals to focus on when looking at developing and enhancing the character of each pupil:
- Being open minded to the opinions of others
- To be happy with the life they currently have
- To know how it feels to beat a fear in life and to take that feeling into future situations
- To have fun and to recognise that learning can be a joy
Why character is important
Studies over the years have shown that character is more important when it comes to feeling satisfied in life – more than education, physical looks or money. Whilst attaining goals in education show a measurable way of the development of intelligence, it’s not as easy to show that a bench mark has been reached and surpassed when it comes to character strengths and as Martin Luther King Jr said “intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”
Childhood development affects adulthood and so the character strengths nurtured and developed during childhood and then teenage years are strong indicators as to the adult the pupil becomes.
Teachers who are looking to give the fullest education they can to each pupil in their classes should always remember that the character skills they instil and awaken will shape all aspects of life after the school years are complete.
As adults, we know we need courage, humanity, wisdom, forgiveness and a sense of what is right and wrong and teachers hold one of the keys to see these traits begin to be unlocked and to emerge. Working with parents to ensure the strengths are encouraged at home and offering opportunities through projects and classroom tasks to liaise with the community, character strengths will often outshine educational success in a real-life situation and give a real boost to any pupil who feels they are not achieving, as well as serving to help them realise their importance as individuals past any academic knowledge they gain.
We all have different character strengths and this is what makes us who we are. A good teacher will seek out the strengths in each pupil to bring them to the fore to then develop them so they go through school and then life equipped with optimism, diligence, perseverance, creativity and the ability to be thankful and full of gratitude.