Character Education: In the midst of this process called “life”~

Blog for Module 8    Character Education: In the midst of this process called “life”~

Among the readings for this week, the quote by Kirk that I was particularly drawn to was, “By example and precept, until quite recently, grandparents and parents conveyed to young people—or a considerable part of them—some notion of virtue, even if the word itself was not well understood” (Kirk, 1987, p. 1). As with all students–the students within my high school setting are influenced by a wide range of family dynamics—both positive and negative. At times, I have had the unique opportunity of having the children of former students in my classes. Most often, these have been positive experiences and my former students (now parents of teenagers) have either remained positive about education, or in some cases—have become more positive (unlike when they were teenagers). This year, a sad event occurred when a particular student of mine was busted for drugs (unfortunately, not an uncommon occurrence). What was unusual was that I remember well when his mother was in my class. I vividly recall the great difficulties she encountered after each of her parents were killed in separate “self-inflicted” drunk driving accidents—one year apart. As I considered her son, I was deeply saddened to see such a clear picture of generational problems—from this vantage point.

One of my colleagues posted the following comments that strongly resonated with me: “We must involve students in a life-like situation where their emotions are drawn into the scenario so that they may understand how someone with self-control or humility acts. Although many people would argue we don’t have time to teach things like respect, honesty, and love, I believe another implication of this statement is that we are constantly teaching students values throughout our schools.”

I try to be mindful of modeling for my students and feel compelled to be an example of, “respect, honesty, and love”. Several days ago, we had a particularly focused time of discussion in my classes regarding self-control. I had previously selected a handout regarding appropriate communication skills in the school setting (including specific steps to follow when maintaining self-control)–and introduced the discussion by saying, “I know you already know this information, but every-day–we hear in the news about someone who has ‘lost control’. In the last 72 hours–in our county, alone–there have been at least 3 fatal shootings, and 5 within the last month.  Additionally, a young 3rd grade girl—is now in critical condition (shot at the school where my grandson is scheduled to attend kindergarten in the fall)”. My students were all aware of these events and actively participated in the discussion with unusual seriousness. (Although absent that day, one of my students had been friends with a young man—shot and killed by police several weeks ago. He had last spoken with his friend—the day before.)

Indeed—this lesson was “a life-like situation where their emotions [were] drawn in”…

As this week’s module draws to a close, I am profoundly aware of the fact that  I not only carry my own emotions, but I also tend to carry the emotions of my students—due to my highly empathetic nature. I must remind myself to daily relinquish these often heavy burdens to God—entrusting each person represented–to His care. Only then will I be able to begin each new day with hope for the future.

 

Kirk, R. (1987).The Wise Men Know What Wicked Things are Written in the Sky. “Can Virtue Be Taught?”

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