Here at Wisdom Wonder Project, we believe the development of character is essential to becoming well educated—not only gaining the knowledge of good character, but really internalizing its value and cultivating the desire to grow in good character. Without character, education is incomplete and potentially dangerous.
We also believe that developing character is a process. We don’t “arrive” at excellent character, but we develop it within us over time through many means, including mistakes and doing hard things. We are all on this journey together, and by infusing into their education, invite our children to join us.
For these reasons, we have chosen a character trait to focus on each month. These traits, carefully chosen, have all been valued over the course of time—as applicable thousands of years ago as they are today. Although cultural circumstances change, character traits stand the test of time, and our twelve traits are among those.
We will list the month’s character trait with its definition, a Catch Phrase for ease of use, along with a quote that captures that trait’s meaning. Each month, we will post about the featured character trait along with curated book lists that teach the trait through literature. Since June is when students most often graduate to their next level, we thought summer would be a great place to start.
June | Responsibility
Basing decisions on practical wisdom and good sense, being dependable in carrying out commitments and duties, and being accountable for one’s words, behavior and actions.
CATCH PHRASE: Think before you act; finish what you begin; take responsibility for yourself.
Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
July | Citizenship
Recognizing one’s place in the greater communities (family, school, local and country) through active service and respectful devotion to the community’s members, values and standards.
CATCH PHRASE: Everyone counts.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Mead
August | Resourcefulness
To act effectively and imaginatively, to use information and available resources wisely and efficiently.
CATCH PHRASE: You can figure this out!
It is wonderful what you can do when you have to. –C.S. Lewis
September | Diligence
Committing to doing tasks with excellence and persevering with determination and patience to complete tasks in spite of difficulties and discouragement.
CATCH PHRASE: Do your best, don’t give up!
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. –Aristotle
October | Kindness
Recognizing that relationships are core to who we are becoming, and therefore being tender, courteous, helpful, forgiving and compassionate towards others and self. Looking for the goodness in all. Being unselfish and generous.
CATCH PHRASE: Be nice.
I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. –Rudyard Kipling
November | Gratitude
Being thankful and showing appreciation for those in our lives and for what we have and receive.
CATCH PHRASE: Say thank you as much as possible.
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. –G.K. Chesterton
December | Humility
Knowing, accepting and being who we are while demonstrating modesty about our accomplishments and gifts, admitting mistakes and valuing others for who they are and for their input.
CATCH PHRASE: Admit mistakes and cheer others on.
There is no respect for others without humility in one’s self. –Henri Frederic Amiel
January | Stewardship
The careful and responsible management of things entrusted to one’s care, including one’s mind, body, time, money, environment, and property, with proper regard to the rights of others.
CATCH PHRASE: Take care of your stuff, take care of their stuff!
What is common to many is taken least care of, for all men have greater regard for what is their own than for what they possess in common with others. –Aristotle
February | Courage
Attempting difficult things that are worthwhile and facing difficulties and challenges with determination to do the right thing even when others don’t.
CATCH PHRASE: Dare to be different!
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. –E.E. Cummings
March | Integrity
Having the inner strength to be truthful and trustworthy, acting justly and honorably, and being consistent in words and actions.
CATCH PHRASE: Tell the truth; keep your word.
Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful. –Samuel Johnson
April | Respect
Showing high regard, value, and appreciation for authority, others, self, and property.
CATCH PHRASE: You don’t have to like or agree with everyone, but you do need to treat them with respect.
Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners. –Laurence Sterne
May | Resilience
The ability to recover strength, determination, spirit, flexibility and good humor in the face of change, mistakes, and trials.
CATCH PHRASE: The only real failure is to not try again.
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. –Confucius