The Curriculum of Character

Curiosity. Intelligence. Critical thinking. And most important of all: Virtue.

At the end of last week, I'd had it up to here with two of my boys' relentless and insidious attacks on each other. One would purposefully provoke the other and the offended party would retaliate. Then, after intervention by me, the offender would "apologize" and the victim would offer conditional forgiveness, which would infuriate the it became a vicious cycle that would repeat again, but with the roles reversed.

By Sunday, I was pulling my hair out. I was so sick of hearing, "See, this is why I hate my brother!" And "Everything would be fine if he were not around!"

No, no, no, this is not what homeschooling is about. Homeschooling is about nurturing an appreciation for siblings and laying the foundations of life-long friendships. How have we gotten here, so far off the mark?

Squabbles happen - I get that. But this undercurrent of animosity...not having it.

I had a long and fruitful brainstorm with my mom. By the end, I felt armed with some practical solutions, felt like I added a few tools to my tool belt. But most of all, I realized that I've lost sight of covering the most important subject of all during our school day: virtue.

We wait for fights to break out before we strategize how to make peace.

We wait for the complaining to happen before we figure out how to look for things that make us feel grateful.

We wait till everyone is rude and grumpy and mean and stubborn before we start talking about being considerate, pleasant, kind and concilitory.

That's the opposite of the way it should be.

I have my big lists of "things they need to know" and "skills they need to build", and I've passed those out over the course of the week, the month, the year in order to make progress. But in the pursuit of that progress, I've forgotten that the development of virtue should be strategized and executed with the same enthusiasm.

You know how it works: as soon as you realize something, it seems like that conclusion is reinforced from all sides. Confirmation bias, in all the best ways. I saw hints of it in the read-alouds we were enjoying together, in conversations with other parents, and then summed up perfectly in a philosophy podcast that I've been listening too:

"One’s virtue is all that one truly has, because it is not imperiled by the vicissitudes of fortune.” - Boethius

So this week, we began a more structured approach to dealing with the interpersonal problems we've been dealing with lately. And I'm looking for further resources to enrich our study and discussion of virtue. If you have some favorites that have worked in your house, please share in the comments!

#siblingrivalry #homeschool #characterdevelopment #virtue #goodcharacter

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