October Character Education Trait:
"Our children become responsible through an accumulation of experiences."
-Dorothy Rich, Ed.D.
Dorothy Rich, Ed.D, is an icon of the Character Education movement, which began with her seminal book, Megaskills, written in 1988 and updated a number of times since. It is still a reference for all things "character-building" today. Her definition for RESPONSIBILITY is simple and direct: "Doing what's right!"
What are the experiences that can shape responsibility in a child? Per Dr. Rich:
- Taking care of your own and others' property
- Carrying out tasks that help at home, at school, and in life
- Discussing and internalizing what it means to make good choices, develop strong character, and hold to important values
A child experiences these things at our School every day. We encourage students to carry their own backpacks, organize their binders, tidy-up their classrooms, and be gentle with their textbooks. So many of the "School Skills" we teach have to do with caring for their own and others' property – including that which belongs to the School and to their fellow students. You can see that establishing "Friendship and Building a Caring Community" – as we focused on in September – relates closely to being responsible.
There's no end to what children can do to help at school. They can help classmates understand a new vocabulary word by participating and sharing thoughts in a discussion. They can help the teacher by sharpening pencils or passing out papers to prepare for the day. Cleaning up the toys at the end of Extended Care is a chore that is expected of all those still present. All of these examples are tangible and forthright, but others are less so and actually rather abstract. Like the family and classroom discussions designed to foster good decision-making, reliability, trustworthiness, and a willingness and readiness to take on the responsibilities that honor relationships. These would include being on time to reduce others' need to worry or fulfilling expectations to reduce parental frustrations. Providing responsibility-building experiences are essential for children to become competent and successful adults.
- Pam Volker, Headmistress