Principal Hardy’s addresses over the first few assemblies thus far this year have focused on the different elements of character, a central concept here at Greenwood. In recent weeks, he discussed:
- Performance character: trying your best, even when it seems impossible
- Moral character: doing the right thing
- Civic character: using what we have been given to give back to the community
On October 24, he touched on the fourth, and final, component of character: intellectual character, or strength of mind. Ron Ritchhart, a researcher at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, puts it perfectly when he describes a person of intellectual character as “curious, open-minded, reflective, strategic, skeptical, and truth-seeking.” These are all qualities that we work to help students at Greenwood to develop.
“For too long, schools have been about memorization,” Principal Hardy says. “Skills and thought change with history, and rote learning is no longer enough.”
Principal Hardy illustrated his point using the work of Daniel Pink, author of the bestseller A Whole New Mind. “As we moved from the Agricultural Age into the Industrial Age, skills such as literacy became necessary, and this is when schools became widespread and education became more highly valued” he said. “In the 20th century, it was knowledge that was the most important, and accordingly, literacy and numeracy skills.
“In the 21st century, though, we need more than that. We now live in a world that is more interconnected and more technologically advanced than we did in the 18th and 19th centuries. Daniel Pink writes about the importance of focusing on the conceptual and big picture thinking, as the kinds of jobs you will have in the future will depend on these skills.”
A great Greenwood example comes from Grade 11 student Ben Taylor, who used his skills in flash animation to create a video illustrating the scientific concept of albedo. “Ben took some relatively dry information and used it to tell an incredibly engaging story,” Principal Hardy said. “He was thinking creatively and conceptually, where it would have been easy to simply regurgitate the facts.”
“When you’re learning, it’s important to debate, to challenge, to rethink, and to make concepts your own. That’s exactly what Ben did, and that’s what I encourage each of you to do every day.”