Character Education: Developing Good Citizens - Part 4 (Perseverance)

in steemiteducation •  6 months ago

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I wasn’t planning this post today. I actually had something completely different in mind. However, events at school today have led me to change my mind and post another installment of the Character Education series. As part of Education Week, our school is having several presenters visit the school. There will be a variety of talks given for different grade levels. Look forward to a post next week about our Human Library. Today was the first day of presenters and as a kick off to the week, we had an Olympic Athlete talk to the students about her experiences. The kids even got the chance to see her medals.

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Geneviève Lacasse is one of the goaltenders for the Canadian Women’s National Hockey team that competed in the Winter Olympics this February in PyeongChang, Korea. She has been playing for the Canadian Women’s hockey team since 2014 and has participated in several different tournaments including two Olympic games. She talked to the kids about her experiences and how she got to be part of the team and took lots of questions from the kids. It was great to hear all about her experience at the Olympics and how she became a hockey player and all the fun she has had playing for team Canada. As nice as all those things were, to me, the most important thing the kids learned from her was how it wasn’t easy getting to where she was and it wasn’t all roses and puppy dogs along the way. It took an incredible amount of perseverance to get her to that level and at times, even more to keep her there.


A continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition: the action or condition or an instance of persevering: steadfastness

Of all the character traits discussed thus far in this series of posts, perseverance can often be the most difficult to coach and teach. Perseverance or the opportunity to demonstrate it often comes at the times when it is most difficult. By definition perseverance requires you to be struggling or even failing with something and to push through. When faced with a tough or seemingly insurmountable challenge we are always faced with a choice. Fight or flight. Do we continue fighting and trying until we have achieved success? Or do we quit and run away from the task all together?

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Geneviève Lacasse shared with us the amount of effort required to do the training necessary every single day to compete at her level. She talked about days when she didn’t want to workout or go on the ice. She talked about moments when it seemed too hard to continue but she was always able to dig down and fight through these feelings and give her best effort. One of the most interesting stories she shared with us was about how she actually got cut from the team early in 2016. She described this as a huge moment in her hockey career. It would have been easy for her to walk away from that moment thinking she wasn’t good enough to play on the National team anymore but she decided to keep working hard and persevere to make the team again.

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I love ya Yoda but I might have to disagree here. In order to "do" sometimes we have to try, try and try again

Some people say the at perseverance can’t be taught but rather it is a natural instinct that comes out during difficult times. When people are faced with a challenge they can step u in ways they never knew they could and persist through trials and tribulations without that feeling of wanting to quit. This ability to never quit can lead them to success that others might have more difficulty obtaining. Although I do believe that there are some natural elements to the ability to persevere, I also believe that this is a skill and trait that can indeed be taught.

Perseverance is a skill that can be taught. Although most of us learn it through trial and error, it can and should be taught, just like any other key skill or competency. Perseverance is the quality that allows someone to continue trying even in the face of difficulty, adversity, or impossibility. Grit is another important skill aligned with perseverance.

I am faced with students every single day who struggle with perseverance. When faced with a tough question or a difficult task on a subject they quickly shut down and do nothing rather than try and fail. The fear of failure can be overwhelming and at times debilitating. Nobody wants to fail and there develops this strong belief in kids that if you don’t try at all then you can’t fail. Although the logic here technically works there is a significant flaw or consequence of this type of thinking. How can you ever hope to succeed if you are never willing to try? We need to take the time to teach kids about how to work through difficult times and push on even though they think they can’t.

Is this the attitude we should have?
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One way we can do this is to share stories of perseverance with them. Hearing about Geneviève Lacasse's challenges and struggles to get to the Olympics is a great way to show kids the benefits of perseverance. However, these stories don’t have to be as grandiose as an Olympic athlete. We all have moments where we have faced tough challenges. We need to share these moments with our kids and students and let them know the results of decisions made. I like to share stories with my students and have discussions about how the situation was handled or how things could have been done differently. I also like to have them think about what could have been missed or lost out on if not for the perseverance displayed. This is truly one of my favourite attributes to comment on when writing report cards as it is a strong indicator of student success.

There are many movies and stories that you can watch to demonstrate perseverance. One of my absolute favourite movies is Rudy. Rudy is the story of a young man who had a dream of playing football for Notre Dame College. Ven though he was extremely undersized and nobody gave him a chance, he persevered and worked harder than anyone else and eventually achieved his dream of playing in a game. Sports often provides opportunities to discuss these types of moments.

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As always, I try to use literature as a way to prompt discussion about character traits and perseverance is no different. The book “Wonder” discussed in my last post is a great example of this quality. With my grade 8 students, “The Hunger Games” provides a great entry point to the theme of perseverance. It is a book/movie that many students are fairly familiar with and so it makes it quick to break down how Katniss and many others had to persevere. We also get to look at their lives outside of the arena as well. It took a lot to persevere and survive the conditions that many people were living through. I think my favourite book to read with my children and discuss this issue is Dr. Seuss's “Horton hear a who”. This is an endearing story about an elephant who hears the desperate cries for help from a microscopic town of people living on a speck of dust. Of course, everyone thinks he is being ridiculous and he quickly becomes taunted and outcasted for even mentioning what he is hearing. Eventually, Horton’s perseverance pays off as everyone learns that he was speaking the truth and they all decide to help him in his efforts.

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I think that everyone has moments where they are faced with the decision to persevere or to give up. It is those moments that will shape who we are and lead to some of our greatest successes and also our biggest failures. Failure should be embraced rather than be feared. Something I tell my students all the time is that I have learned more from my mistakes and failures in life than I could ever have learned from being successful right away. It is these learning opportunities that we need to teach them to appreciate for just that. When we learn how to fail with grace and carry on, there will be no telling the places we might go and the things we might accomplish.

Previous Installments

Character Education: Developing Good Citizens - Part 1 (A School Wide Approach)

Character Education: Developing Good Citizens - Part 2 (Acceptance)

Character Education: Developing Good Citizens - Part 3 (Empathy)

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Thanks so much!!! I’m totally enjoying writing these character education pieces.

Caracter Building the which is most appropriate for future generations of education.. good opinion!!


Thanks. I agree, our future depends on it.

Its one of those things where you really have to push through and persevere. I think what helps in getting someone to persevere is by setting your sights on the goal and not the pain, I can relate to the hockey bit as I was a competitive swimmer, in the midst of all the pain, stress and cold, the only way to persevere is setting your eyes on the prize


Setting smart attainable goals is a great way to help learn to lersevere. It’s those moments when it gets hard when we need to make the choice to carry on.

I like how you are helping to build good citizens in our community, excellent class today. God bless you @broncofan99.



Thanks. I appreciate your words.

It is aptly titled character education. What a big deal this would have been for the kids.

I think that everyone has moments where they are faced with the decision to persevere or to give up.

This is beautiful


Thanks. It’s those moments that test us the most.

Beautiful and a read full of love! Thanks brother for sharing it with us!

Perseverance is an effort that really takes some effort to understand it and start using it in everyday life. As you said it, it really doesn't need to be some Olympic story, it can be any story in normal life. We must share it because when you share it with others you will get a feedback and support from them. That way it will be easier to go through it and it will include the community effort to deal with individual problems, thus helping them overcome whatever is on their way. One word: Teamwork...

Have a great day bro! Keep teaching the kids the real love, as you are already doing.


Thanks for the kind words. I think that sometimes we get caught up in thinking he lesson or gesture needs to be big. It doesn’t, the message just needs to be clear.

Have I failed? Uh huh. A lot more times than I succeeded.

I really like the term 'grit'. It's a character trait that can be taught. One source of examples in your own sphere can be 'special students'. My sister refused to take a K grade (performs to the best of her ability) and it took her 6 years to graduate High School. Girl has grit.


Failure is one of the best opportunities for learning. We just have to seize it.

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Thanks so much for the support.