Can you teach character?
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.Posted 4 years agomuppetWranglerMember
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.Posted 4 years ago
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.Posted 4 years agoTooTallMember
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.Posted 4 years ago
I think you provide the situations that allow character to develop, but you aren’t teaching it per se.dannybgoodeSubscriber
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.
Danny BPosted 4 years agomolgripsSubscriber
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.Posted 4 years agoyunkiMember
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’Posted 4 years agoyunkiMember
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.Posted 4 years ago
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!Posted 4 years agoglobaltiMember
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.Posted 4 years agoantigeeMember
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 canPosted 4 years ago
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!Posted 4 years ago
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