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Norwich School Blog

Good character is everything - words from a Lent term assembly

Lent term Blog from Andrew Rowlandson, Geography Teacher, Norwich School

I remember well the moment in hospital when I was first passed my little girl. Covered in blood and looking like an extra from Lord of the Rings - yet somehow still the most beautiful thing in the world. As I gazed upon this new addition to our family I imagined that moment to be the first page in her biography - who would she become? Where would she go? What would she do?

Three weeks later I was sat in a funeral service for my wife's grandma. She was being remembered as a wise, compassionate and thoughtful person who had not sought the limelight or external praise. Instead she'd become a woman of noble character - showing care towards others and deeply loved by all.

It's easy to feel that the measure of success in our lives is by the amount of achievements we've had - by the number of certificates on our walls. But this remarkable woman was being praised for WHO she was.

A few days later a friend sent me a quote that reflects this - Dr Brene Brown, a Professor at Houston University said, 'what we know matters but who we are matters more'... 'What we know matters but who we are matters more'. 

Of course as teachers we are concerned about helping you reach your academic potential but we are also concerned about helping you become people of good character - something greatly valued by friends, family and future employers. 

Before qualifying as a teacher, I was asked to help interview job applicants for a previous employer. Although their qualifications and experiences had given them a shot, we were encouraged to consider whether the candidates would be a good fit for the organisation. Were they motivated, teachable and likeable? The ultimate question was always: "Would I want this person to join my team?"

I remember one female applicant who gave the impression she was invincible. Her academic record was impeccable but when asked about her 'areas for development', she found it difficult to identify any personal weaknesses. She gave the impression of being offended that I'd ask such a question!    Now, either she was perfect or simply unaware of blind-spots. It was these kinds of experiences that encouraged us to look for more than just competency - we realised we also needed to look for character and chemistry. 

American President, Theodore Roosevelt said: "Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike." 

Today's bible reading highlights some of the qualities that I think help to produce people of good character: faithfulness, love, kindness, patience, joy....

Qualities that take practice and intentionality to cultivate but always bear fruit.

I have no idea what Rebekah will do in the future but I hope she will come to understand that she's loved and valued for WHO she is. Just like my wife's grandma, I hope she too will come to prize character over achievements.