It is not uncommon for current or prospective parents to ask, “How would you describe the Middle School journey and what would you say is its primary focus?” When answering, I certainly reference the academic rigour and growth that we look to provide all of our students, but I equally focus on character growth.
Character growth in the Middle School usually focuses on our school’s four core Values: respect, courage, honesty and service. These values are now beautifully represented through the Spindle Whorls crafted by Dylan Thomas, our Indigenous Scholar. I was reflecting on the Spindle Whorl that depicts courage, Siin’lqi, which is currently in the Chapel, and how it is a fitting value for the Middle School student. Courage, at times, can get overlooked when we reflect and learn about our four core values, when one might argue that it is the most important value.
What makes the characteristic of courage so important? Is it because our world, more than ever, requires the strength of character to overcome some seemingly insurmountable obstacles? The opportunities to practise courage at the Middle School may seem small but they provide manageable opportunities to build the skill of courage. For a Middle School student these opportunities can show in standing up for a friend, reading a “prop” in assembly, raising a hand to ask a question, or trying a new sport or instrument. These are just a few examples of the hundreds of scenarios a Middle School student might come across on a daily basis. The repeated practice of small acts of courage builds skill over time and these skills can then be applied to bigger obstacles and more complex situations.
As parents and guardians, we have an insatiable desire to support and love our children. All very normal and necessary, but at times this desire of us trying to ensure our child’s life is ‘obstacle free’ can get in the way of our children growing into young adults that have a full complement of skills to take on life. As adults, we are all too aware that life will provide our children with a number of bumps on the road, probably more than we can imagine, due to social media and the rapidly changing world in which we live. If we do not allow our children to take on these obstacles and challenges then how can we expect our students and children to grow and gain the confidence and courage to take on new challenges?
And so the next time your child experiences a bump in the road, think of this challenge as a skill-building opportunity and encourage them to face it head on, thereby allowing them the chance to grow. Our world needs courageous problem solvers. In the Middle School, our students are fortunate to be supported by teachers, administrators and parents who will be there to pick them up when they fall down. All of these experiences are required for one to become courageous and I cannot think of a better place for our students to learn this important characteristic than in the supportive environment of the Middle School.