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Performance Character

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Different people have different opinions of success. What does it mean when parents mention that they want their kids to be successful?

Academic success followed by landing a high paying job? If the young adults have low paying jobs yet they love what they do - is that considered not too successful?

Have we neglected the children’s characters? In future, will the children possess the desired moral values? Will they show filial piety? Will they show confidence and not arrogance? Will they contribute back to society as one’s success is also quite dependent on others for help? Take for example, the teacher's or parents' influence in the children’s lives.

David Levin and Mike Feinberg are the founders of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program). KIPP was set up in 1999, and it is a charter school set up for the under privileged children in parts of America. Children are selected via a lottery system. KIPP provides a dynamic and encouraging environment for the children’s education success. In fact for the first batch of students, they triumphed on the eight-grade citywide achievement test, graduating with the highest score in Bronx and the highest in all of New York City.

David and Mike kept a close record of their students' programs and were disappointed to know that every other month after they graduated from KIPP, students were slowly dropping out. At the end of the first batch of thirty eight students who graduated from KIPP, only eight managed to attain a Bachelor of Arts.

What Happened?

When the drop-out report rolled in on the first, second and third batch of KIPP students, Levin spotted something peculiar: the students who persisted were not necessarily the ones who excelled academically at KIPP. They seemed to possess certain other traits; skills like optimism, resilience and social agility.

Realising that the children needed character moulding, Levin decided on seven characteristics that are likely to predict life satisfaction and high achievement.

They are as follow:

Grit: Courage and residue; strength of character

Self-control: The ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotion and desire

Zest: Great enthusiasm and energy

Social Intelligence: The ability to get along well with others, and get them to cooperate with you

Gratitude: The quality of being thankful

Optimism: Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something

Curiosity: Strong desire to know or learn something

Levin integrated “Dual Purpose Instruction” in the class curriculum, where the class discussed about character strengths during each lesson. They started implementing character report cards to help the students improve on their characters.

Other than building success academically, I hope that parents as role models will evaluate in-depth on the question of "what sort of person would I want my children to be?"

Read more about Role Models to understand the impact you have on your child.