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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Virtuous Education

Who are you?  Are you good?  Are you bad?  Is what you are something that is unchanging?
Think back to when you were a child and imagine that your conversations were filled with the following words - assertiveness, caring, cleanliness, commitment, compassion, confidence, consideration, cooperation, courage, courtesy, creativity, detachment, determination, diligence, enthusiasm, excellence, flexibility, forgiveness, friendliness, generosity, gentleness, helpfulness, honesty, honor, humility, idealism, integrity, joyfulness, justice, kindness, love, loyalty, moderation, modesty, orderliness, patience, peacefulness, perseverance, purposefulness, reliability, respect, responsibility, self-discipline, service, tact, thankfulness, tolerance, trust, trustworthiness, truthfulness, understanding, and unity.

Now, imagine if those words were always brought up in a loving and positive manner (i.e. not shaming).  Then add this...assume that everyone has those virtues within and our task in life is to develop them.  From the tablet Kalimat-i-Firdawsiyyih (Words of Paradise) reflect on the following...
"Say: Honesty, virtue, wisdom, and a saintly character redound to the exaltation of man, while dishonesty, imposture, ignorance and hipocrisy lead to his abasement.  By My life! Man's distinction lieth not in ornaments or wealth, but rather in virtuous behavior and true understanding." - Baha'u'llah

Then from the Lawh-i-Dunya (Tablet of the World)...
"O people of God! I admonish you to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues.  Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy and is attired with the vesture of uprightness.  Whoso is endued with courtesy hath indeed attained a sublime station." - Baha'u'llah

When considering the potential within, we most often underestimate its ability to develop and its final influence and power to transform the world.  There are many writings from various faiths that focus on virtues.  I would think that most, if not all, people would find that individually developing the 52 virtues listed above can fundamentally change life as we know it.  Of course, these virtues should be balanced in their expression and a lifetime of virtues development is more realistic than pretending that you add them one by one like stones in a jar.  No one person extols these virtues perfectly, but to recognize them and encourage their development is noble.  Does your school encourage development of virtues?

In schools, virtues development is in the form of character education.  I am only familiar with The Virtues Project (being a recently certified facilitator) and am convinced that The Virtues Project as applied to schools would create an environment that would allow children to flourish academically, emotionally, and socially.  Take a look at Boston University's FAQ on character education here - FAQ.

Personally, I feel that any virtues development program within a school must be threaded throughout the curriculum and made explicit in all classes.  Virtues do not begin and end at the door of one classroom.  I would love to hear from you about any programs that are being used at your community's schools.  What are they?  How are they implemented?  What is their effect?

Lastly, please take a look at the 52 virtues listed above once more and consider how these are exemplified in your workplace, your home, and your daily interactions with others.

1 comment:

ARTIST VICTORIA O'NEILL said...

Hi, my school district has a very active character education program, with virtues. It begins at the elementary level, and takes a different form through middle and high school. It has been extremely effective in really helping people follow the Golden Rule. There is hope out there! I'm an artist/art educator and use Baha'i principles in many of the projects I design and implement for bringing people together through the arts.