AB Daley School has incorporated the work of Dr. Michele Borba into the culture of the school. Dr. Borba’s book titled Building Moral Intelligence The Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing (Jossey-Bass 2001), is a much needed manual for parents and educators in our face paced world. This book provides guidance on how to instill essential virtues in our children that will help them become ethical citizens.
What is to follow are my thoughts and notes upon reading Dr. Borba’s book. I consider myself a mother first, an educator second, I also feel that it takes a village to raise a child. The advantage of an educator is that I am fortunate to be involved in many children’s “communities.” I feel that this book offers me reassurance for how I naturally parent, and for me teaching is an extension of parenting. Throughout the day, in my classroom, there are many opportunities to reinforce the seven virtues. By following Dr. Borba’s advice, and in collaboration with parents, I offer learning opportunities that will provide students the opportunity to become ethical citizens.
Moral Intelligence is the capacity to understand right from wrong. It is the ability to control our impulses and delay our gratification, which in our era of “instant gratification” is a huge undertaking. Instilling moral intelligence provides our children with strong ethical convictions and teaching to act on them in the right and honourable way. It is crucial to build moral intelligence so children can develop a deep inner sense of right and wrong and this knowledge used to protect them from outside influences. It is imperative to understand that moral intelligence is learned, we must consciously teach, model and nurture the seven essential virtues in our children.
Seven Essential Virtues
1. Empathy: This is the core moral emotion. It allows us to understand how other people feel. It is the moral emotion that urges a person to do what is right because we can recognize the impact of emotional pain on others.
2. Conscience: This is the strong inner voice that helps us to decide right from wrong. It is the corner stone for the development of crucial virtues of honesty, responsibility and integrity.
3. Self-Control: This virtue helps us restrain impulses and think before we act. It will help us become self-reliant because we know we can control our actions. This virtue enables us to put aside immediate gratification and stirs our conscience to do something for someone else instead.
4. Respect: This encourages us to treat others with consideration because we regard them as worthy, as a result we will possess greater self-respect.
5. Kindness: The virtue of kindness helps us show our concern about the welfare and feeling of others. By showing kindness, we become compassionate and less selfish. As well, treating other kindly is simply the right thing to do.
6. Tolerance: This virtue helps us appreciate the different qualities in others. It allows us to stay open to new perspectives and belief; we can respect others regardless of race, gender, appearance, culture, belief, abilities or sexual orientation. We respect people based on their character.
7. Fairness: Is the ability to treat others in a righteous, impartial and just way. It increases our moral sensitivity.
Together these seven virtues will become your child’s moral compass, guiding her toward responsible living and ethical conduct. They are the tools she will use to chart her moral fate.
The goal is for our children to become less and less dependent on our moral guidance by incorporating these moral principles into their daily lives and for the child to take ownership of them. Providing our children with consistent, repeated, short lessons of the seven virtues is what is required for them to master the virtue. Please remember that telling our children is never as powerful as showing what the quality looks like by demonstrating it in our lives.
Future posts will examine each virtue in depth.
That's my view, from the 86th pew,