Recently, I heard a commercial for a private school. The spokesperson went on and on about high test scores, the very high percentage of the students who go to top-rated universities, and other statistics. Send your child to Veryhighscore Academy! We will bring out the best in your child!
Really? I was amazed that the word character was not mentioned once. It was all about grades, test scores, scholarships and the like, reflecting and exploiting the obsession todays parents have with this trivia.
Trivia? Hello? Are you hopelessly stuck in the past, John, or what? Why, everything hinges on what college one gets into!
No it doesnt. A poll of top executives, many of whom run Fortune 500 companies, found that quite a number of them went to ordinary schools like Western Illinois University, which just happens to be my alma mater. You ever hear of it? No? Fancy that!
Nor do high grades make the individual. That includes test scores, class rank or being in honors classes. If they did, all highly successful (by whatever standard) people would come from the top 10 percent of their classes. They dont. Some were quite ordinary students.
And then there are the many stories of people who were high achievers in school, went to top-ranked universities, and never lived up to expectations.
In the 14th century, William of Wykeham penned the motto of Winchester College and New College, Oxford: Manners maketh man. An individuals manners are a reflection of his or her character, so an apt paraphrase of the motto is Its all about ones character!
The C student who always does his best and strives to improve is going to go further in life than the A student who is a slacker.
It is by learning and practicing social courtesies that a child develops good character. Training in manners teaches a child to pay attention to others and look for opportunities to be of service to them, even in small ways like opening doors and helping carry things.
A life well led is not defined in terms of how much money one makes or ones title. It is defined by service to others. And service to others equates to humility and modesty, which the world needs a whole lot more of these days.
John Rosemond: www.rosemond.com