July 22, 2017

Forming character

ONE of the important goals of education is to form the character of children. It is that part of a person that provides stability and direction in his life and everything in it, starting with the way one thinks, his attitudes and his reactions to things in general.

A person, of course, is a very dynamic being, but he needs to have a sense of permanence and confidence. He needs to be rooted and moored in some sound foundations and oriented to some clear and good goals. He just cannot be drifting aimlessly, twisting in the wind.

A person needs to have an over-all view of life. He has to have a good idea of where he comes from and where he is supposed to go. He has to find meaning and purpose in everything. In fact, he has to know what man is really all about. In this, he cannot and should not be left in the dark for long.

Thus, we have to feel the need to be clear about who and what we are. This involves our core beliefs and faith. Let’s try to be professional and serious about this, avoiding being amateurish and sophomoric. And so we have to understand that we have to be committed to a global view of man and life.

For this, our Christian faith gives us the whole thing—from man’s creation to his eternal destiny. We have to be wary of some attractive ideologies that offer partial truths that often get distorted and exploited for some ulterior motives.

In short, we have to be committed to our Christian faith, for it contains the whole truth and mystery of man, and goes much further than any man-made ideology can offer. Commitment to our Christian faith should not remain on the intellectual level only. It has to involve our whole life with all our powers and faculties.

So everyone has to work to form the right character for oneself and for others. With respect to the children,  the task is a long, tedious process that has to go in several stages, typically slow, even meandering, in accordance to the rhythm of life itself, but it should be abiding and relentless.

Good knowledge on shifting gears is definitely a necessity here, since we are going to meet all kinds of terrains, challenges, circumstances and other factors and conditionings.

Since children are not aware of the need to form their own character, their parents and teachers have to gradually make them aware of it. In the end, it is the children themselves who are the primary agents in forming their own character.

The responsibility of the parents and teachers is undoubtedly big and indispensable, but at best secondary. To the children, parents are the primary educators. Teachers just help. Both need to coordinate very closely with each other.

For sure, they need to make time for this all-important duty. This cannot be treated as a sideline only. They need time to be with the children, and time for their planning and meetings.

For this reason, parents and teachers should be clear about what is involved in forming the character of the children. They have to know what education is really all about.

Then, of course, they have to know the many, endless details of the techniques and methods involved, when to be strict, when to be lenient, etc. They have to realize then that they need formation themselves and that their formation as educators also has to go on. It should be an endless affair.

For sure, education just cannot be understood as imparting some knowledge and skills to the children. It covers a whole lot more. Many considerations have to be made—the temperament and psychology of the children, the close monitoring of their behavior, etc.

As educators, parents and teachers have to be knowledgeable not only about the subjects involved in education, but also about the appropriate ways to educate children. They need to combine a wide range of qualities—patience, cheerfulness, toughness, optimism, naturalness, openness and flexibility, etc.

They have to be good at motivating, since children respond so favorably to this that we can say that their growth and development would depend largely on the motivation they receive especially from parents and children.

They have to feel appreciated and loved, needed and important. Even when they have to be corrected, they should realize by the way we do the correction that they are in fact loved and needed, never rejected.

This, I think, is how they form their character and acquire both human and Christian maturity.

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