Character Education Outside the Classroom

September 11th, 2008 | by Suki |

Warning: This post is rather ‘deep’. It’s 2:30 am – what do you expect?

Despite growing up in a country torn by civil war, I am who I am today, because I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a few enlightened people in the midst of chaos. Even as a very young child seeing horrific images in the newspapers and on TV, I had illuminating examples around me of kindness, courage and love.

While we invest our energy and time into teaching our children to read and add numbers, let’s also focus on helping them build bridges of awareness and understanding and as the Dalai Lama says, a sense of “universal responsibility”.

Here are some ideas loosely based on my own upbringing (or “broughtupcy” as my Trinidadian friends like to say):

  1. Encourage your children to read up on what’s going on all over the world through age-appropriate magazines and websites. If they have questions, that’s OK. Investigate the answers together and let them know that sometimes the answers are complicated.
  2. Get them involved in community projects whether it’s at the local animal shelter, library, church, synagogue, mosque or temple. They will feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and importance working with ‘grown ups’.
  3. Help them raise funds for a cause or natural disaster or ask them to help stuff care packages. I remember spending many late nights preparing things as a child for refugee camps and orphanages. It gave me a sense of perspective about my life and my obligations that has stayed with me into adulthood.
  4. Encourage your child to write about their experiences in their journal or their blog or to share their thoughts in their school newspaper or community newsletter. The act of writing is powerful and writing about powerful experiences will help them process them better.
  5. You may find your child or student asking how else they can help after their experience. That’s wonderful. There are some amazing cases of children as young as 9 who raised hundreds of dollars to build water wells in Africa. Share these stories with your kids and let them learn how other children did it. Try to give them the resources they need to start small and experience success. This will have a lifelong impact on them and it’s probably one of the best gifts you could ever give.

“If we wish to create a lasting peace we must begin with the children.” – Mahatma Ghandi
Herein endeth the sermon :)

Post a Comment

Spam Protection by WP-SpamFree