December 07, 2018

Mini Musings - Building Communities of Character

by Joanie Packard, Communications Specialist

“All over the country there are schools and organizations trying to come up with new ways to cultivate character. The ones I’ve seen that do it best, so far, are those that cultivate intense, thick community. Most of the time character is not an individual accomplishment. It emerges through joined hearts and souls, and in groups.” -David Brooks, Communities of Character published in the New York Times 

This week’s PA meeting focused on “Communities of Character.” The McGillis School strives to create a community of character and a great sense of belonging. How do we maintain it, and how do we make sure to envelop new members into our supportive nest? What does community mean here? What are we doing to instill character in our students? Can we even ask those questions without looking at ourselves? David Brooks reflects, “Most of the time character is not an individual accomplishment. It emerges through joined hearts and souls, and in groups.”

We investigated our thoughts and our feelings about our community and its penchant for building character through a series of small group discussions followed by a whole group conversation. And we reflected on how our kids often have less and less opportunity outside of school to create social groups. We discussed ways of building a better community and ways of building more outside of our usual silos.

At our next PA meeting, on January 17, Sarah Davies will help us continue the conversation by leading a book club style conversation. Please join us in reading The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and/or The Blessing of a B Minus, both by Wendy Mogel, Ph.D. Both are available for purchase in the Front Office. The Blessing of a Skinned Knee is focused more on Kindergarten through 3rd or 4th graders, The Blessing of a B Minus is more adolescent focused.

What is the premise? Well, kids are meant to fall down and then learn how to get back up. If we deny them those opportunities, we’re denying them the opportunity to build their own strength and resilience. This is development. How do we step back as parents and let our children experience these growth opportunities? The books are funny — thank goodness — we all know we need to embrace a whole lot of humor around parenting.

We’ll be discussing both books at the next PA meeting on January 17. Don’t feel like you have to read both, or even one in its entirety. No matter the number of pages you read, please join us for what promises to be an insightful conversation!