Here at Brookside, we strive to develop the whole child. Character is a big part of this. In addition to the development of generalized character traits, we are currently involved with two initiatives to emphasize two vital areas of development: empathy and resiliency.
The character trait of empathy is intentionally infused in our STEM curriculum. Throughout the curriculum, we look to provide students opportunities to identify real needs that people (students or people outside the school) may experience, and give students an opportunity to address those needs. By explicitly linking technology and engineering to empathy, we hope to reinforce the ideals that, as people, the decisions can be either positive or negative towards others.
Unfortunately, children are inundated with headlines and stories of bullying, violence, and intolerance. To compound that, children are highly in tune with social media, and experience some of these situations more viscerally and virtually than prior generations. As a result, in addition to teaching children how to be empathetic, it is also vital that children learn how to overcome challenges. This forms the basis for our resiliency initiative. Throughout the year, and infused into our curriculum, teachers will structure opportunities for children to practice and develop resiliency. In doing so, we hope that students will have the skills and confidence to deal with obstacles now and in the future.
One of the ways Brookside is unique in the area of character education is that we look to teach it more through daily interactions than through programs or events. As a result, our peer leaders and student council develop many of the character activities for the school. We do a minimum of 5 student led character activities each year on top of the teacher led ones. We have found this structure to be effective.