We have a 6-virtue kindergarten. What happens after that?

Guest blog by Meredith Williams, Kindergarten Teacher, Wayne County, NC

My county recently set up an articulation day with schools that feed into the local high school.  Each teacher was part of a group of elementary, middle, and high school teachers assigned to discuss the curriculum challenges and successes we had with educating children for the 21st Century.

Our discussion quickly took a negative turn when the only high school teacher in the group started describing the unfortunate state of his classes.  He said he didn’t see a solution for the problems he had in his classroom.  He said students “just didn’t care.”  He said if they didn’t want to do an assignment, they just didn’t.  He also said there was little support at home and he felt like consequence were useless because these students had no intrinsic motivation to succeed.

As I listened, I couldn’t help but think of everything I was learning about “The Six Virtues.”  I considered the way I taught them in kindergarten and wondered how this HS teacher’s students would behave, if they had been taught the virtues throughout the grades.  Would this teacher have the same experiences?  The students described by this teacher exhibited the vices that are opposite the Six Virtues.  After listening long enough, I explained what I had been learning and shared some of the ideas from The Six Virtues of the Educated Person.  The high school teacher couldn’t write down the virtues and website fast enough.

I have taught kindergarten for five of the seven years I have been a teacher.  It is my favorite grade level because I enjoy the lessons I have with students that go beyond the curriculum.  These lessons usually focus on what I now refer to as “The Six Virtues.”  Any kindergarten teacher can list countless experiences when he/she has had to stop everything because a teachable moment occurred where it was necessary to point out a situation where understanding, imagination, strong character, courage, humility, or generosity were present in student interactions (or needed to be).

After I discuss these mini “life-lessons” with my students I can hear them reminding their friends and others in the class to “do the right thing.”  It sets the tone for my classroom each year.  It is my belief that one can not teach a kindergarten class without discussing some aspect of these virtues on a daily basis.

What I wonder from my discussion with the high school teacher is how his experience would have been different if his students would have consistently experienced a curriculum based on the six-virtues.


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