Character Matters

2012_2013_YGhandour_02I’m the director of Lower Canada College’s Junior School program (K-6) and also the parent of three children, ages 10, 8 and 3. As a professional and a mother, I’m always curious about where teachers are at in their professional thinking.  At a recent Junior School staff meeting, I asked my team of teachers: “If you had only one day left to teach, what would you want to teach your students?” Interestingly, every single one of them answered the question using words like “respect,” “compassion,” “tolerance” and “integrity.” Music to my ears!

Even though our teachers are continually asked to work on developing the various courses prescribed by the Ministry of Education, and filling out report cards that focus predominantly on subject-specific mastery of skills, schools have an important role to play in teaching social skills. In fact, you might even consider it a moral obligation.

Social rules and expectations of behaviour need to become part of every school’s “hidden curriculum” and taught like any other set of skills. Unless we teach these to students—our children—as we teach them math and grammar, we simply can’t expect our young ones to know how to behave in, let alone be prepared for, real-life situations. More specifically, we cannot be disappointed in them for having behaved wrongly if they were not taught otherwise.

A well-defined character education program helps to create a positive school environment. Our students are our future leaders and our hope is that they graduate not only intellectually capable, but socially responsible too.

By putting an emphasis on educating the heart as well as the mind, we ensure that our children will be ready to meet the challenges of the future not only with confidence but also with compassion.

Of course, the support of the family in character education is also key, but I’ll leave the parent-school partnership as a topic for a future blog!

Yasmine Ghandour
Junior School Director at Lower Canada College and mother of three

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