challenges into the character strengths they and all of us need to be successful. With such intention, we can begin to demystify the secrets to success, which really aren’t so secret, but simply a matter of not knowing what you don’t know.
This will require that we first, believe no matter the background or circumstance of any child, that he or she is capable of learning and achieving and second, intentionally focusing on developing character strengths using both classroom lessons and students’ unique experiences to draw connections to the character strengths they can develop and hone.
Learning is often fun and occurs effortlessly. But there are times when it can be daunting and frustrating. Sometimes you just want to give up. The fact is that learning is hard. Persisting, resolving, recovering, and being optimistic are strengths that serve students well in life and in school.
That’s where character comes in. King understood that character and academic achievement were inextricably tied. Tolerance, fairness, respect and diligence were needed not just for people to get along but to create an environment conducive to learning.
Recently another memorial to King was unveiled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Much was said about King’s legacy as a civil rights leader and how he took the fight for freedom and justice to the streets; how he longed for the day when we’d be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.
At the memorial to King at our alma mater, I see doves flying free and I’m reminded that we build character at home and in the classroom. That’s where the fight for justice and equality really begins.
Etienne R. LeGrand is president and co-founder of the Atlanta-based W.E.B. Du Bois Society.