At Shearwater, we have just commenced a whole school focus on virtues. All areas of the School will look at a virtue each week. In Term 3, these will include compassion, caring, generosity, friendliness, courtesy, consideration, flexibility, kindness and gentleness.
The word virtue itself comes from the Latin vir, which has a root meaning of 'force' or 'agency'. In Latin, the expression virtus moralis became the established equivalent of the Greek expression arete ethike, 'moral virtue' or 'character excellence'.
An education in virtues is about a good disposition of the heart and mind that are regularly put into actions (head, heart, hands), and is the foundation to solid character development. As Heraclitus (Ancient Greek philosopher) put it, "Character is destiny" and virtues are the content of our character!
We believe that fostering the development of character means supporting children to develop and grow good habits.
The Class 5C virtues program consists of a weekly lesson where the students and I discuss the virtue in focus and its possible implications. We hear stories and experiences relating to the virtue and also do practical activities.
In our lesson in Week 1, the students spoke in pairs about what they thought compassion was and then discussed this as a whole group. We found that it is not all that difficult to cultivate a sense of compassion for others. It seemed easy to give others compassion and understanding even when they fail or make a mistake. But we realised that it can sometimes be much harder to extend that same compassion to ourselves when we make a mistake. We completed an activity that provoked compassion for self and the children answered the following four questions in their workbook, providing opportunities for awareness, insight and further discussion:
- First, think about a time when a close friend felt really bad about him or herself or was really struggling in some way. How did you respond to your friend in this situation? Please write down what you did or said and note the tone in which you talked to your friend.
- Now think about times when you feel bad about yourself or are struggling. How do you typically respond to yourself in these situations? Please write down what you do, what you say, and note the tone in which you talk to yourself.
- Did you notice a difference? If so, ask yourself why.
- Please write down how you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to your friend when you’re feeling down or have made a mistake.
Class 5 Teacher & Primary Faculty Coordinator