Teaching character traits is not something I have ever taken lightly.
I want them to do good audaciously. To be honest when it doesn’t benefit them. To be kind when everyone is cruel.
That means I model the character I want to see in them.
And to be honest, I am both embarrassed and elated when my oldest recognizes when I fall short of my own goal.
Because that means I am doing well, even when I feel like a failure.
What are these most desired traits?
- They are always curious, open, and striving to learn more.
- They are always honest.
- They welcome criticism that teaches them something and to give it without being malicious.
- They value truth above all else and work their entire lives to pursue it.
- They are always thorough and work hard.
- They work well in teams.
- They are compassionate.
- They are willing to listen to the genuine experiences of others without condemning.
- They are willing to admit when they are wrong and change their practices to accommodate the new information.
- They are able to defend their arguments with solid evidence.
A good leader encompasses all these traits. A good innovator embraces these traits as strengths.
Should you teach character traits in homeschool?
Not every child is going to grow to be an innovator, so what does this matter?
It matters because teaching character traits, paired with basic logic and reasoning skills, are the foundation for a lifetime of easy problem solving, of being able to make important decisions as an adult, of being free of undue influence for your life, so you can do the things that are truly right whether it’s the popular decision or not.
The person I described above is hard working and thoughtful, willing to see their own mistakes but also able to stand strong when they know they are right.
You want to equip your child to LEAD, not follow. You want to teach your child power comes from respect and not force.
Who does this look like?
I want my children to grow up to do great things then turn around and use their accomplishments to benefit mankind, like Dr. Jonas Salk. He invented the first polio vaccine and did not patent it himself in an effort to make it readily available to everyone despite their ability to pay.
I want my children to be as dedicated to knowledge as Marie Curie, who worked and was miserable in her early years. No traditional universities would accept her because she was a woman, so she took up with Flying University, an illegal Pro-Polish organization when Poland was occupied by Russia.
I want my children to go on to break down barriers, like Wang Zhenyi, a Chinese woman born in 1768.
She taught male students (GASP!) and is still applauded for her accuracy in complex mathematical calculations today. She wrote educational material in language that made the information accessible to all the people of China.
I want my children to be as excited about knowledge as Edward Alexander Bouchet. He was the first African American to be admitted to Yell (1870).
When racism kept him from getting a job as a researcher (despite his doctorate), he began teaching, He dedicated his life to inspiring others to blaze a path to knowledge and strength.
I want my children to have the grit of Granville T Woods, who started his own company when he couldn’t find a job. He eventually went on to create the telegraph.
How can you build these characteristics in your kids, even if they don’t plan on going on to careers in science?
How can you equip our children to be leaders who can stick with a problem until it is solved?
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