Lynn Rhodes (one of ACC’s faculty members) sent me this link last week. It’s a long article from the New York Times Magazine:
One of the things the ACC trustees and I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about are the qualities we want to see in our graduates. We’ve settled on a handful of primary outcomes: academic excellence, Christian character, servant leadership, global awareness, and a capacity to be self-sufficient. Each of these have their own sets of traits within them.
The article addresses some of the same things by asking, What does it take to be successful in life? According to researcher Angela Duckworth, “Character is at least as important as intellect.” The work done by the ACC board this past year settled on the same belief.
But, here’s the interesting difference this article discusses at some length: there is a difference between ethical character and performance character. When we think of “character” we often think of ethical traits (honesty, integrity, moral). This isn’t all bad and ethical character will help us be successful in life.
But performance character includes traits that aren’t tied to ethics and morals, but to the qualities that make one successful in life. The researchers in this article narrowed it down to 7 (from a much longer list) for use in a couple of test schools:
- Grit (here’s a simple assessment tool, also found and sent by Lynn, of grit from the researcher)
- Social intelligence
I think this list helps us really see the difference in what we usually look for in “character” as ethical character and what the authors are calling performance character. And I think we do want to instill these traits in our ACC students as well.
Having these lists and ideas hopefully will help us think even more about what qualities we’re looking for in graduates of ACC. And also then begin the struggle for how to actually instill performance character in the students while they are in Swaziland.
Truly to be successful in Africa today we must have leaders of integrity (a mantra of mine and, thus, ACC — and part of self-control!), but we also need leaders with the enthusiasm (zest) and follow-through (grit) to make things happen in their communities.
Surely curiosity will bring success when we can see beyond the “way it’s always been” toward new ideas, paths, and strategies to improve life and grow the kingdom.
Surely gratitude and optimism inspire others and sustain the zest.
Some of these ideas are captured in our outcomes work already. For instance, curiosity is built into our definitions of global awareness, but may be difficult to teach. You cannot lecture social intelligence or self-control.
But we want to provide more than a degree; we want to form people into successful leaders with both ethical and performance character. This is much more difficult than teaching them theories and facts. Yet, at the end of the day our task.
Which do you think would be most important and what strategies do you think would work to instill it in a student? Are these performance character traits worthy ones to think about pursuing more intentionally?