You're More Than Just a Test Score: Character-Building in Catholic Schools

In his New York Times article, “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” Paul Tough, author of Whatever It Takes and How Children Succeed, discusses the importance of character in determining the potential success of a student.  The article finds that the real ingredients for future success are not based solely on IQ, but are a combination of: “zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, curiosity.” The article goes on to ask, “What is good character? Is it really something that can be taught in a formal way, in the classroom, or is it the responsibility of the family, something that is inculcated gradually over years of experience?”

As I considered the article, I couldn’t help but make a connection to Catholic Schools. Many excellent schools in Chicago provide students with a solid academic foundation, but Catholic schools are different and special in that they also focus on the values of hope, love, and community.  Catholic schools talk openly about morals and spend time each day giving children an opportunity to learn, share and understand the consequences of good and bad behaviors.  Wouldn’t it be cool if each student graduated with not only a G.P.A.  but a C.P.A., for character point average?”   said David Levin, the co-founder of a charter school network in New York, in Tough’s article

Catholic schools inherently work with students to increase their C.P.A. daily.  In fact, at most Catholic schools, I’d argue that the C.P.A. is just as important if not more important than the GPA.

Here are a few questions to consider as you think about your child’s education: 

·        Can your child’s school teach the sort of lessons that will help your child become a good and compassionate person?

·        Is there a clear expectation that everyone will be treated with respect by teachers and other students?

·        Does the school you send your child to have a sense of values consistent with your own?

·        Will your child’s school foster a sense of “zest, grit, self-control, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, curiosity?”

How a school handles these issues indicates whether the school is capable of reinforcing the values that you teach at home. Ultimately, Catholic schools will enable your child to grow up to be a good and compassionate person. Catholic schools partner with families to instill those values that enable children to grow up to be “successful” adults.  What more could you ask for?

We’d love for you and your family to join our school community. For more information about Chicago Catholic Schools visit- www.chicagocatholicschools.org to #DiscoverTheDifference

- Maria I. is a mom of two boys. She lives in the city of Chicago and sends her kids to the local Catholic school.