VIRTUE OF THE MONTH:
Perhaps one has to live north of the Mason-Dixon line to fully appreciate why December demands courage. In northern New Hampshire, where this program originated, we are often grappling with twenty-below-zero weather, cars and buses that won't start, and indoor recess. Sickness dogs us. Snow days close our doors. Will we make it through December?
December is a great month to focus on courage.
Courage is a big virtue, with physical, moral, intellectual, and civic dimensions. At each grade level we address different dimensions of courage, and teachers should take special note of those indicated in the Core Virtues book. But at all levels we stress that courage is not being "unafraid"; it is moving beyond fear in order to accomplish a higher good. Or, as Plato had it, courage "is knowing what things are truly to be feared."
At the lower grades, December offers the opportunity for splendid discussions on the difference between courage and recklessness. The same action (jumping off a bridge, for example) could be courageous or foolhardy depending on one's motivation. Is the jumper trying to save a child who is floundering in the river and cannot swim? Or is she responding to a dare? Our goal in December is not to make students oblivious to danger and foolhardy, but to showcase lives and stories that speak to the human will to act when necessary, despite pain, pleasure, or pressure to the contrary. This involves, as Aristotle argued, "habituation" - frequently doing the frightening things that conduce to a greater good. Last year we featured, Eleanor Roosevelt's wise advice: "Do one thing everyday that scares you." It's a good motto.
ABOUT CORE VIRTUES
The Core Virtues program highlights a different virtue (or trait derived from a virtue) each month of the school year. Caprock Academy is currently in Year 3 of the Core Virtue 3-year rotation.
Core Virtues is a literature-based program with the goal of cultivating character through the promotion of basic moral, civic, and intellectual virtues. It emphasizes such “core virtues” as: respect, responsibility, diligence, honesty, generosity, perseverance, courage, faithfulness, compassion, openness to inquiry, and humility in the face of facts.
At Caprock, we weave core virtues into as many classes as possible and strive to help students grasp the importance of these virtues in their daily life.