Back to Basics

“Factual knowledge alone is thus no longer the great differentiator between those who succeed and those who do not. Instead the individuals who are emerging as the new “winners” – the new thrivers-of the twenty-first century are those who possess above average creativity, strong analytical skills, a knack for foresight, and surprise surprise good people skills.” From Stephen Covey’s book “The Leader in Me

Last week I used this quote as part of another blog post. The other night I attended the #leadfromwithin chat and the chat focused of things like loyalty, honesty, respect, and other important traits leaders should have. I also attended a class given by @gperl about humility.

All of this got me thinking that we need to go back to basics. We need to teach character development and leadership skills with the same emphasis that we teacher other subjects if not more. I often tell my students that when people meet you on the street they won’t ask you or judge you based on how much of subject “X” you learned but rather they will see and judge you based on what kind of person you are. Here is my partial list of some of those amorphous and less tangible things we need to be teaching:
• Honesty
• Humility
• Trust
• Respect
• Loyalty
• Empathy
• Transparency

How do we teach these skills? I believe these skills need to be modeled and taught by example.
I recently heard the following: You can teach your child about honesty and read about it and give examples from the Bible and other sources and of all that teaching will not mean anything if when the next time you go to the movies and you tell your 13 year old child to tell the cashier that he is 11 to get in at the child price.

If we want to prepare our students for the 21st Century we need to go back to basics and teach them, no show them what it means to be a good person.


  1. Jennifer L said:

    What is frustrating for me as a teacher is how to teach my students trust, respect, and loyalty when they are taught everywhere else in our culture that teachers are not to be trusted or respected and that our only loyalty is to ourselves.

    January 29, 2011
    • Jennifer,
      Thanks for your comment. my philosophy has always been we need to take the high road. We are not going to change people. nevertheless we need to be the best we can be and provide positive role models for our students so they become good people and also so that they understand through our actions what being a teacher is really about.

      Thanks again for the comment

      February 2, 2011
  2. Kyle said:

    Great post Akevy, I know that these skills and attributes are way more important than facts in math, science, or literature. the challenge is how we get kids to develop. Notice I didn’t say that the challenge is how we teach it, because we can’t TEACH these important skills.

    In my district I have been directly involved in “canned’ programs like 6 pillars of character, the virtues project, LionsQuest, etc. These don’t work if you try to teach them. The one successful implementation I have seen is the Leader in Me program from Covey, and it’s success is base on the fact that it requires the first year as training for the entire staff, followed by 2 years of introduction to the students. The kids only pick up the 7 habits through constant modeling, shared language, and everyone living the habits. Another key to our success was how we as a staff personalized the lessons and activities to our school

    I think schools need to commit to building their own version of how to develop these skills in order to meet children’s needs in the 21st century, but the 7 habits is a great place to start.

    January 29, 2011
    • Kyle,
      Thank for your comment.
      I agree about the 7 Habits. I am currently reading ” The Leader In Me” and it shows how these traits and idea can be and need to be taught to children at a very young age.

      Thanks for the comment

      February 2, 2011

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