There is no such thing as a neutral education.As soon as we begin to teach something to someone else, we are inevitably making value judgements about what we are teaching, how we are teaching it and why we are teaching it.Any decision we make about what or how to teach contains within it, an implicit understanding of the human condition, of what is important in life, of the relationships we want to foster, and of what is worth learning, knowing or questioning.
For this reason, character education requires learning and development to be set into context, against an understanding of what it means to be human and how the world works. While lists of virtues and values can be a helpful way of assisting people in understanding what character education may look like in the classroom, these are insufficient without a coherent and rigorous sense of purpose underpinning them. This sense of purpose will inevitably be culturally specific, rooted in particular communities and their beliefs and practices.
We see the ultimate purpose of education as the promotion of “life in all its fullness.” Education is about more than just producing increasingly efficient economic units: it is about developing people who can flourish in all areas of their lives. Character education is essential to this.
Within this broad narrative of the ultimate purpose of education, character education must focus on the whole child. It must develop much more than simply the “performance virtues” of grit, resilience, curiosity and creativity, essential though these may be. Rather, it should see the development of intellectual, spiritual, moral and physical attributes as equally essential to preparation for a full and flourishing life.
Any discussion of ultimate purposes, including discussions about character education, inevitably draws out areas of disagreement. Consequently, as educators, we must become open to disagreement. Indeed, one might argue that a legitimate purpose of character education is that of learning to disagree well – to listen deeply to others and recognise their worth, no matter how deep the disagreement.The debate around ‘BritishValues’ teaches that tolerance in a pluralist society must reflect the Archbishop of Canterbury’s encouragement to engage in reconciliation – honest, loving, faithful, committed disagreement.
At St. James’ we promote our character education through teaching our children to ‘Live The Fruit of The Spirit’.
” The Fruit of The Spirit is defined as: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22–23)
Christ’s followers are truly living in the power of the Holy Spirit when we bear the fruit of unconditional love, a joyful heart, a peace-making and peace-keeping nature, deep and abiding patience, compassionate and merciful kindness, sacrificial and cheerful generosity, radical faithfulness, a gentle disposition with all, and an obedient and mature self-control.
St.James’ supports UNICEFs Rights Respecting School approach. We teach the children about the rights of a child and have established 5 clear rights within our school. The children link these rights to our Christian Values and work hard to uphold the rights of all children at St.James’. Our core rights are:
St James’ CofE is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. We expect all staff, visitors and volunteers to share this commitment. If you have concerns regarding the safeguarding or welfare of any of our pupils, please contact Stuart Booth or Joanna Chambers.
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