Every parent hopes that their child will grow up successful, in happy relationships, good health and rewarding careers.
What if a child’s success is not determined by IQ but in strength of character (CQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ)?
“Success in today’s world puts a higher premium on character qualities,” says Andreas Schleicher, head of education and skills for the OECD.
But this is not what most schools focus on.
“Most employers tell you how important collaborative skills are becoming at the workplace, and that is also what we are seeing in our data. But then you still see most students sitting behind individual desks and learning to take their individual exam,” he said.
Paul Tough, in his book on How Children Succeed—Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, outlines seven character traits that he says are key to success:
- Social intelligence
In the New York City borough of the Bronx, schools saw huge improvements in their students when they moved the emphasis from IQ and test scores to building character.
There are two components embedded in “Leaders of Character” – performance character (e.g., diligence, grit, resilience) and moral character (e.g., integrity, respect, generosity). Students need to have both performance and moral character to become leaders of character.
Mr Sulaiman Bin Mohamad Yusof, Principal of Naval Base Secondary School observed that character attributes play a greater role than inborn talents and socioeconomic background in enabling many of his past and present students, as well as colleagues overcome challenges and achieve success. In fact, Mr Sulaiman himself faced emotional challenges growing up and struggled academically. Today, he is Principal of Naval Base Secondary School. Many other educators concur as they have observed that their most successful students are not the ones with the highest test scores.
These days the debate is no longer about whether character matters, but which traits—grit, self-control, generosity—matter the most and how to effectively teach them.
That is why at Flower Power Centre for Creativity, we weave exposure to character qualities (CQ) into our creative writing for primary school and also offer separate CharAction camps during School breaks. Our worksheets also facilitate further parent-child discussion on specific CQs, which we strongly encourage.
By the way, true creativity also requires many character qualities.