Teaching good character, morals and virtues is accepted as an implicit part of a child’s education at home and at school. But, what if they were taught explicitly at school? What if when your child went to class, they learned how to develop specific character traits as part of their day-to-day school life?
We all know that character traits such as diligence, persistence, positivity and self respect help build a well-rounded individual. However, evidence shows that they also translate into better academic outcomes.
“Common sense tells us that good character is the foundation for improved attainment as well as for other school priorities such as good behaviour and enhanced employability. Nevertheless, the growing research literature shows a clear and positive correlation between character education and academic attainment”
Professor James Arthur, Professor of Education and Civic Engagement, University of Birmingham, UK and Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Values.
Weber and Ruch 2012
Demonstrate that the research shows that character traits (e.g. perseverance, care for detail) were identified as contributing to school success. Variables such as self-reliance, responsibility, insistently orderly, and being socially mature, are positively related to academic success.
Durlack, Weissberg et al., 2011
Findings from meta-analysis of 213 USA school-based programs demonstrated significantly improved social and emotional skills, attitudes, behaviour and academic performance that reflected an 11- percentile-point gain in achievement.
Research and common sense is why Kilvington has created The Character Initiative. Our students not only flourish in the classroom, on the stage, in the sporting arena and as leaders, they are developing the skills to flourish in life.
Character Initiative Program Director
To support Kilvington’s commitment to character-based education, we have appointed Martine Walls as the School’s Character Initiative Program Director.
“I am passionate about preparing students to be the best they can be. Character Education is the foundation for a happier and richer life. It is our responsibility to teach students to be great people and for us to role model positive behaviours.
We will continue to build our Character Education framework, constantly looking at ways to embed character into the curriculum at the subject level. In the future, we will have a variety of character-based flagship programs and electives that will support our students in their academic and personal growth, equipping them with the skills needed for life beyond Kilvington.” Martine Walls
The following programs are some of the examples of how character is embedded into school life Kilvington.
Each year, a character trait is carefully selected as a point of focus for each term or semester. In 2017, Semester One’s first character trait is Courage. Second Semester’s character trait is Curiosity.
These traits are applied across a wide range of activities throughout the school year.
Our Prep to Year 6 students focus on the selected character trait in the classroom in the following ways:
- Setting goals based on each character trait
- Role play
- Incorporating the character traits into classroom dialogue on a day-to-day basis
- Discussions at home and in the classroom.
- Class journal
- Class Tweets on the whiteboard
- Happy jars
- Presentations from students
- Create posters
- Explore the science behind Growth Mindset
Our Years 7 – 12 students focus on the term’s character trait in the following ways:
- Setting goals based on each character trait
- Quizzes to measure each student’s appreciation of a character trait
- Online applications to increase understanding and development of a character trait
- Group exercises including sharing stories and activities
- Board games
- Group discussions involving character traits in the context of novels, music and films
- Teachers take the opportunity to reinforce the character word in general class subjects.
Ethical Leadership Elective
Kilvington’s Ethical Leadership elective is available to Year 9 and 10 students.
Underpinning this elective are three student leadership committees. Each committee is responsible for the planning and promotion of one major project. The include:
1. Sustainability/Resourcefulness and Lateral Thinking
- Involvement in the implementation of a vegetable garden. (Harvest to plate, mentoring opportunities, independence and self-reliance)
- Healthy Living
2. Diversity/Celebrating and Respecting Difference
- Cultural (global, demographic, multi-cultural awareness)
- Social (refugee blankets)
3. VIA (Values in Action)
- Strength of character
- Global citizenship
- Family and Community
Matt’s Place Food Drive
Our ‘Neighbour Committee’ within the Year 10 Ethics in Leadership elective ran a food drive for Matt’s Place in March 2017. Students arrived to stock empty shelves, and left with shelves and cupboards bursting at the seams. Our community made a major contribution to the lunches and hampers prepared for the homeless and disadvantaged supported by Matt’s Place.
K Kids – Inside Out
Kilvington Kids – Inside Out is a program designed for Junior School students as part of the RE curriculum.
Using specific definitions, practical applications, captivating stories from Australian nature and history, memorable songs, and a variety of age-appropriate activities, crafts, and object lessons, each year level will study specific character traits based on Australian native animals.
Students will have the opportunity to ‘earn’ an iron on transfer style badge that they can start to collect on their library bag. These were designed by Year 11 student Olivia P together with Rosie Busuttil, Academic Dean of Visual Arts.
There are 21 character qualities to collect in all. Examples include:
Gratefulness: The Numbat
Initiative: The Wild Budgerigar
Diligence: The Emu
Attentiveness: Eastern Grey Kangeroo
Creativity: Brushtail Possum
Self control: The Honey Possum
Integrity: The great Egret
Assembly of Notables (Year 7)
Each year, Year 7 culminates with students preparing for the Assembly of Notables. This involves selecting a notable historical figure – usually of great character – to bring to life at a special assembly attended by students, staff and parents. Each student is allocated a mentor to provide support and guidance.
Students undertake research about their notables’ challenges and achievements and then write a 500-700 word thesis that can be assessed by parents on the night via a specially developed app. Students create backdrops, use props and wear costumes and make-up to help the audience appreciate each notable’s life
Some notables have included: Dr Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Fred Hollows, Helen Keller, Neil Armstrong and Jessica Watson.
Year 9 Students Lend a Helping Hand
Year 9 Challenge students take part in the Helping Hands initiative. Run by the Helping Hands charity, the students work in teams to build prosthetic arms, which are then be sent to land mine victims in countries across the world.
The project is part of the K-STEM and Character Initiative. The students are tested in their engineering skills, as they have to be able to build a working prosthetic arm that is of high enough quality to be sent to a recipient. Their team working abilities are also put to the test, as they have to build the arm with the dominant hand covered. This forces students to work effectively as a group and also shows them how difficult ordinary everyday tasks become with only one arm.
Every team works together to complete their arm and is a testament to the mature and responsible citizens that Kilvington students are. We wish our hands well on the next stage of their journey!
Character Initiative in the News
The Age, June 19 2016