Can you teach character?

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  • Can you teach character?
  • joshvegas
    Member

    You build character, not teach it.

    I believe ritual humilation and discomfort are the preferred building materials.

    thegreatape
    Member

    I reckon so.

    Premier Icon maccruiskeen
    Subscriber

    You build character, not teach it.

    I’m not sure ‘build’ is quite the word. The character you can imbue might be something you inflict on someone, a negative trait, rather than build something through encouragement.

    Freakenomics did a nice item on parenting and the actions you can take to better the future of your children. Their conclusions were (for all the parenting advice that gets spouted) that the only things that make any measureable difference were:

    1. Show children kindness – its something they’ll never, ever forget

    2. Show yourself to be kind to others – if you are rude to waitresses, an aggressive angry driver, dismissive of others your children will grow up to be complete arseholes

    3. Don’t smoke, then your children probably won’t either.

    But I think number 2 is the important one – setting a better example, not just as a parent but as an adult, all the time.

    Junkyard
    Member

    You build character, not teach it.

    so if you learn it then it can be taught
    surely it is what parents do, well the good ones anyway.

    i think you can help someone to build character by setting a good example and nurturing them through experiences that test them. Not sure whether you can switch someone around completely but if someone has potential you can certainly help to bring it to the fore.

    alaslas
    Member

    Experience builds character; teaching is part of gaining experience; all experience is teaching/taught.

    spacemonkey
    Member

    “Be the change you want to see.” Ghandi

    Premier Icon funkrodent
    Subscriber

    Always remember what the Wolf said:

    “Just because you are a character, it doesn’t mean that you have character”

    That pretty much sums it up for me 😉

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    An interesting question in the office this lunchtime…
    Your thoughts…

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    Looking at the oft used phrase: “It was character building.” usually said after a tough experience…

    For me, building character is a mixture of experience and teaching. You can build character if you know that after a tough experience, that instead of whinging about how hard done by you are, you learn from it, and hopefully don’t repeat mistakes or indeed, make fewer mistakes in future. I think that kids need to be taught that losing a game, failing a test or being a bit shit at something isn’t something to always feel bad about or that they can’t do anything about it.

    I wish I’d had a dad with a bit more patience to teach me stuff like that. Instead he was short tempered, lost his cool easily with things he couldn’t change and when I now look back on his adult life, I can see that he often didn’t learn much from his mistakes. He was still “one of the good guys”, but I don’t think he taught me much in terms of character (while he was alive, that is). I had to learn it for myself – too late in life for some things that I feel I could have done better.

    So as such, is it something that can be taught? I dunno…depends on the definition of “taught” I suppose. You can give a child the tools to become a “better” character and hope he or she uses them positively. You can learn it yourself too but you’ll possibly have some tough lessons along the way.

    TooTall
    Member

    Character evolves. Different people have different characteristics that will emerge to a greater or lesser degree when they are in different circumstances – usually trying / testing ones that are outside a pre-existing comfort zone.
    I think you provide the situations that allow character to develop, but you aren’t teaching it per se.

    Premier Icon dannybgoode
    Subscriber

    You can learn something without it being specifically taught. You nurture, support and encourage the development of character traits in a child that find appealing (hopefully) and discourage the development of those that are not.

    As one progresses through life various factors both environmental and ‘spiritual’ will further shape those early characteristics.

    You cannot I don’t think sit someone down and ‘teach’ them character.

    Cheers

    Danny B

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Character doesn’t really have a strict definition though does it?

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Character doesn’t really have a strict definition though does it?

    ^This being my argument.
    If there is a definition, I think there is more of an agenda..?

    Premier Icon lapierrelady
    Subscriber

    According to ‘Of Good Character’ by James Arthur (2010), you can, and it is increasingly something schools are interested in doing

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    It’s one of those things like ‘common sense’, it’s a vague term that people manipulate to suit their argument. There are plenty of specific terms you can use to describe someone: courageous, indefatigable, moral, dedicated, sincere, conscientious, loyal, strong, loving, caring etc etc etc.

    yunki
    Member

    I think really, to appreciate the nature of ‘character’ and what it essentially is, a person needs to lose absolutely everything that they hold sacred.. At least once, preferably more

    Until then you’re likely to be getting your prejudices and insecurities muddled up with what you perceive to be ‘character’

    Mikeypies
    Member

    Public schools think so and for many it is one of their selling points also the armed services do as well

    yunki
    Member

    Yeah, I’m not sure if it necessarily quite right when you’re just playing at it, while a team rebuilds your whole life for you in a nice safe cosy controlled environment, following an ideology and a schedule..
    I think you have to do it for yourself out there in the big wide world for the real effect..

    And I don’t think you can take that path as a lifestyle choice.. You probably need calamity, to be pushed into the situation and have to claw your way back out through necessity.. That’s what those schemes try to replicate in a way, except that they very carefully control how you crawl out and in which direction.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    Public schools think so and for many it is one of their selling points

    Sure you’re not confusing Character with sodomy?

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Subscriber

    Cheers all, a good debate. Started as I have been tasked with running a programme to explore character in school leadership and teaching staff, and how schools could ‘teach’ character… All under new teaching and learning standards up here. It will be fun!

    slackalice
    Member

    Do your belief’s form your experiences? Or do your experiences form your belief’s?

    A rich aspect of one’s character IMHO

    soobalias
    Member

    character is built not taught.
    you can build a wall, you cannot teach a wall*

    *failing secondary school teachers have my utmost respect for trying

    globalti
    Member

    My Dad was only one of three people who have taught me a lot in life; the others were his climbing partner, who we all admire very much and my former business agent in Nigeria, from whom I learned an awful lot. Both have been influential on my character but I expect my Dad has had the most influence.

    Junkyard
    Member

    character is built not taught.
    you can build a wall, you cannot teach a wall*

    Fallacy of equivocation

    You can build* an understanding of maths – that is not the same as saying you can build* a wall

    * same word but different meanings

    Yes. Although some people are more resistant to growth than others.

    That applies to the self too.

    Do your belief’s form your experiences? Or do your experiences form your belief’s?

    Yes.

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    Only love enables us to climb over any wall built between us JY. 🙂

    TooTall
    Member

    a programme to explore character in school leadership and teaching staff

    Now you are bringing leadership into it as well – canned worms all over the place.

    Only love enables us to climb over any wall built between us JY

    or a ladder

    deadlydarcy
    Member

    or a ladder

    Metaphor fail on my part then. 🙂

    antigee
    Member

    couldn’t you just eat?

    I can’t define character but here in Aus’ at least in Victoria state primary schools teach “resilience” (worth googling but put au in the question or check out Michael Rutter) at a low level it is coping skills but is really about self determination – also I’m sure people who are dealing day in day out with trying to get “kids” to move out of / avoid gang culture in the UK would have a lot to say on the topic if weren’t too busy trying to do it – that’s a cover up for not having any definitive source to point to but I’m sure someone can

    Premier Icon lapierrelady
    Subscriber

    There was a really good link in another thread on here to an article by George Monbiot on unleashing kids in the outdoors…that’s what we try to do on a limited scale by doing lots of sports, performance arts etc. Some of the best (if not the best) learning at school is done outside the classroom. In the name of fun I’ll be spending my Saturday night under canvas with 26 14 year olds…should be a bonding experience given the weather forecast!

    chewkw
    Member

    Can you teach character?

    No.

    🙄

    Premier Icon lapierrelady
    Subscriber

    Oh, and I also think one of the best ways to ‘teach character’ is to model good character traits to young people rather than sit them in a classroom and bang on about ‘citizenship’.

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