One of the dispositions of Learning@STLUKE’S is questioning. We all know that little children have lots of questions. But, often as children get older they are not so open to asking questions because they can feel judged by others. However, it is important to challenge them to be questioners not just about knowledge, but about what it will mean for them and their character development when they are faced with having to make a choice.
Life is full of choices. The types of choices, and the opportunity to make choices, increases as children get older. This week at Senior Assembly, I challenged our students to ask themselves, “How will my character be shaped by making this choice? How will I be shaped at a deep level if I make this choice?” I have challenged them because I recently read a young man’s story about what happened when he made a particular choice during his early teen years. Also, while I was in South Africa I met a group of young men who had also made choices that had shaped their character and lives.
In the case of these young men, what they had in common was the choice they had made as 14 year olds to start smoking marijuana. In every case it had led them onto harder drugs, into crime and, in some cases, into gaol. They didn’t come from homes or families where they weren’t loved, and as one young man said, “I accept the responsibility for what I have done. I am sorry that my parents didn’t challenge me as I started to lose my focus at school.”
However, it is not just the choice around what our young people do about drugs, it is the choice they make about their behaviour at parties, it is the choice they make about how they portray themselves on social media, it is the choice they make to deal with truth, it is the choice they make on how they spend their time, it is the choice they make in how they treat others, it is the choice they make when they stumble across pornography on the internet. Every choice shapes character for good or ill.
We need to proactively help our young people to make good choices. They need to be encouraged to see that becoming people of character is important for their flourishing and becoming the young men and young women God has created them to be.