Parents, students and staff at Trinity Academy were privileged to attend a keynote address on the topic of ‘character education’ by a world-renowned developmental psychologist.
Professor Thomas Lickona (PhD) was visiting the UK as part of his work for the State University of New York at Cortland, where he analyses research into how respect and responsibility can be fostered in children and teenagers to overcome the challenges posed by today’s society.
“Parents and teachers increasingly need to act as ‘character coaches’ towards the children in their care,” Professor Lickona told the audience, “and as a result, parenting today needs to be much more intentional and deliberate than in the past.” He highlighted three cultural changes that have made it increasingly difficult to raise ‘children of character’ in modern society: an emerging ‘culture of entitlement’ among youngsters; the fact that time spent on mobile devices vastly reduces the opportunity for families to engage together; and a hypersexualised digital environment which has begun to normalise dehumanising and damaging behaviour.
Much of Professor Lickona’s address was devoted to giving parents valuable tips and advice on how to nurture their children and equip them with valuable character skills. He strongly advocated the practice of holding regular family meetings and ‘connective rituals’ such as family mealtimes, which, he said, are “vastly underused” but which can have a huge positive impact on young people’s outcomes in life.
Professor Lickona acknowledged the role played by school staff in building children’s character, but added that: “Family and home come first; the emotional dimension there is especially strong and parents are often the single most powerful influence in their children’s lives.”
Following the keynote address, Trinity Academy Principal Jonathan Winch thanked Professor Lickona for his time and his insight. “Our world is vastly different to the world of 70 or 80 years ago,” Mr Winch said. “The stakes are high; we only get one chance at getting it right for our children.”