The Six Pillars and the Olympic Games

Christine Grupenhoff

As our children return to school and we have time to reflect on our athletes’ Olympic experiences in China, it is a great opportunity to remind our children to use these athletes as examples of how to build their own character throughout the school year. The Six Pillars of Character, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, citizenship and caring, are the framework we want our children to apply to build their own character into ones of gold.

Respect is one of the most central of the pillars and one we want our children to embrace. It is extremely important that we remind them that each person deserves respect no matter the situation. Even though others may dress differently, think differently or act differently, everyone deserves respect. Encourage your children to listen to others and try to learn that people can disagree without fighting or getting angry. This is the time to remind them to practice the Golden Rule, “Treat others as you want to be treated.” As was evidenced many times during the Olympic events, the athletes demonstrated mutual respect as they congratulated one another for their outstanding effort no matter the outcome.

For all, responsibility is such a crucial pillar of character. During the Olympics, each athlete showed strong responsibility by being at each event prepared to do his/her best. Student, too, must be encouraged by you to be responsible, to put best foot forward as they attempt to learn new skills. They need to be reminded that they are responsible for their own behavior within the classroom. Completing homework assignments, taking care of their belongings and those of the school are also examples of responsible behavior.

To be a person of character, one must be trustworthy and honest. The athletes trusted in their own ability. They realized that they had practiced and trained for many years for this opportunity to participate in the Olympics. For our children, the teachers trust the children to do their own work. The children need to learn the important lesson to trust in their own ability. Cheating doesn’t serve any purpose but to lose their inner spirit and integrity. We must tell our children that we trust them to do their best and, as long as they do this, we will be satisfied with their efforts.

Fairness is essential in many situations, especially during the Olympic Games. The athletes trusted that everyone had the same opportunity and chance, that conditions for all were exactly the same, and the judges were unbiased in their evaluations. We expect that this also occurs in school when dealing with our students. We expect that rules will be followed in school and that all students will receive the attention and help they need to excel.

Citizenship, another important component of being a person of good character, was readily apparent during the games. By looking at the faces of the competitors during the medal ceremonies, we could see that they showed pride for their country as they sang their anthem or held flags in their hands. In school, our children are important citizens. They can take pride in their school. We should encourage them to keep their desks neat, their belongings in order and to care for their classrooms and entire school.

Caring, the final pillar of character is key to every aspect of the Olympic experience. To dream of being a member of the Olympic Team, the athletes had to believe, to have the heart and faith, that they could make the team. The families of these athletes were essential in this process, giving of themselves unselfishly to help their athlete obtain their goals. Children also need an abundance of caring and love from their parents. With days filled with many activities and time in short supply, making special one-on-one time with our youth is critical to their well-being and happiness. Help them to have a joyful day by giving them our love and support as they head out the door.

To be a part of the Olympics must be one of the most thrilling experiences. To win gold, must be beyond belief. We recognize that we will probably never be in the Olympics or win a gold medal. However, we can be people with values and good character. As Confucius said, “The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.””

For information about Character Counts, contact Jacki Carter at 410-758-6677.