The CHARACTER Revolution
Just five weeks into a new school year, I feel excited, I feel exhausted, and I feel challenged. Teaching at the Junior High level, I am constantly aware of how educating our beloved students is more and more about trying to help them (and us and our entire community) counter the culture we inhabit — a culture and society that praises success, money, superficial entertainment, and winning.
Where have we gone? Where are we going?
Earlier this month, a friend and colleague sent me an intriguing article from the New York Times, and in it, novelist Michelle Blake contends that we are teaching our children to cheat: “They cheat, as my high school buddy said, because they’ve imbibed the message — from parents, from peers, from schools — that looking successful is more important than being honest. They cheat because they have been taught, however unwittingly, that it is worth it.”
Ugh, that makes me want to vomit.
My stomach churns because I think Michelle is right; that IS what our culture praises. That IS why I do not watch TV anymore because even the television ads sicken me. In our current day and age, making the hard, difficult right choice is scoffed at, while the easier choice towards the short-cut is celebrated.
This may be the reality of the society we live in, but hope remains in Pandora’s Box.
One of the other hats I wear at school is as an advisor to the Honor Council in the junior high. While it’s grueling, demanding, and often heart-wrenching, it’s rich and real, and it has deepened what I feel is my role as educator. Much of what we try to teach kids is that we care far more about who they are, their character, and the choices they make than we do the numbers or letters that are marked next to them in a grade book.
Students, it’s NOT about the grades. It’s NOT about what you can accomplish to “look” successful.
WHO are you? WHAT do you stand for? HOW do you want to be remembered? WHY?
You can’t cheat on those answers.
May we all continue the fight against what society says is normal and send a far different message to the bright minds, hearts, and souls to whom we have a deep responsibility.