Character is everything

Posted on October 15, 2021

Character and virtues; values and ethics. These are the topics that occupy my mind on most days of the week as I oversee the pastoral care, Religion and Values Education, extra-curricular, leadership development and behavioural management aspects of the life of the School. If you have heard me speak, it is likely that you have heard me refer to one or more of the following great quotes –

“Do not believe that excellence can be defined in merely academic terms, without a corresponding concern for the kind of people we are”. (Steve Garber)

“Character is the main object of education” (Mary Woolley)

“Character is at least as important as intellect” (Angela Duckworth)

“Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education” (Martin Luther King Jnr.)

“It is possible to get all A’s and still flunk life”.  (Walker Percy)

You have probably also heard me say this before: I firmly believe that the most important outcomes of education are not numbers such as ATAR and NAPLAN scores, which simply indicate academic progress at a particular point in time. At St Paul’s School, we subscribe to a more holistic ideal of education, in which we focus on who the child is becoming. Rather than simply focus on what knowledge and skills students have acquired, we want our children to live good lives. We want them to flourish.

As you may have heard from your child(ren), in the Secondary School we have experienced a spate of graffiti and other acts of vandalism in recent weeks. Vaping continues to be a matter of concern also. We are not alone in this: colleagues in other schools are reporting exactly the same issues (not helped by some challenges being propagated by the TikTok social media platform). But we are not “other schools”. We are St Paul’s School, and we aim to produce young men and women of character, which is why we (and I include the majority of students here) have been so disappointed that a very small minority have failed to live up to our standards.

Dr Browning and I, together with the House Leaders, have been urging the students to think before they act. The following wise advice has come down the ages from Lao-Tze, a Chinese philosopher from the 6th century BC –

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Mr Nigel Grant

Executive Director of Faith & Community 

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