Character Does Not Co_unt Without U: APRIL 2023

Monday, Mar 27, 2023


By Gary Smit edited by Tamara Cook

This April is all Pillars month, where the focus of classroom character lessons is on all six pillars: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, Citizenship. In recent years, many schools have neglected working on students’ non-cognitive skills in order to focus on the intellectual aspects of success such as test-taking and content knowledge. This puts students and school communities at a disadvantage, depriving them of a well-rounded education that teaches both academic and non-cognitive skills. If we want students to achieve their full potential, we must provide them with ample opportunities to develop a more comprehensive set of skills.

A CHARACTER COUNTS! School, like A.D. Henderson & FAU High School, explores the potential of the non–cognitive factors – attributes, values, behaviors and attitudes - independent of intellectual ability that students need to become successful individuals. Recent studies show that non–cognitive skills might be as important as, or even more than, cognitive skills in determining educational outcomes. In an article entitled “True Grit,” Justin Minkel says, “Imagine academic skills as apps for an iPhone. Non–cognitive skills are the operating system for the iPhone itself. You might not need them to memorize state capitols or do twenty addition problems in one minute. But to do the kind of research built into the Common Core Standards, or to take on the engineering design challenges involved in STEM curricula, kids need to develop non–cognitive skills and character traits.” Richard Roberts paints a compelling portrait of the value of non–cognitive skills: “Devoting class time to these skills is a more effective way to increase academic achievement than spending all your time on the academic content itself.” A school community’s job is not only to build students’ content knowledge and academic skills, but also to foster the non–cognitive skills that are crucial to students’ academic performance with the support of parents/guardians/family. Integrating CHARACTER COUNTS! into our school curriculum is helping students to do their best academically and to be their best selves.