Balancing Academic and Character Development
At SOTE we believe that a person’s success in life — whether it be work, family or community — will largely depend on what kind of person they are, on their character. The Total Education program therefore aims for a balance of academic and character development.
Although all children need the key skills of literacy, numeracy and much else in the way of academic knowledge, academic achievement can be over-emphasised.
Character development is not treated as a separate subject. It involves every aspect of school life.
The development of character is something that has to be understood and worked on — it doesn’t just happen. The most important influence is the perhaps old-fashioned idea of the “good example” or what we would nowadays call “good role models”. Both teachers and parents have a crucial part to play in this.
Teaching Character Development
SOTE teachers are selected because we believe they are people of good character, who have a sense of integrity, a capacity for patience and a strong sense of responsibility.
Everyday situations that arise in the classroom or the playground are used by teachers to develop the students’ awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses. Teachers show how the application of positive values can help the students manage the personal issues that confront them.
Students are given an experience of service and a practical understanding of qualities such a patience, consistency and responsibility.
Special days such as “Students Running the School Day” or the “We Can Do It Day” are a regular feature of the educational program. These activities give all age groups the chance to interact, to highlight their talents and to enhance their self-esteem.
Parents and Character Development
Parents are supported in their role through the Parents Program — coming together in small discussion groups on a weekly basis to talk about their children’s progress in character as much as the academic sphere. Parents are also encouraged to reflect on what qualities of character they are modelling to their children.
Regular guest speakers provide valuable input to the Parents Program.
With both parents and teachers as positive role models, the children pick up the right way to conduct themselves.
In our experience, character development is something that takes time and patience. It is not taught in the conventional sense. It happens through the positive influence of teachers and especially parents. The school has encouraged us to look at our own behaviour and values and how these influence the children.