Recently I attended an inspiring conference on character education: Character Education: theories, practices, processes 13th, Eton, UK, 13 November 2019.The conference was organised by Eton College’s Tony Little Center in cooperation with BrainCanDo. Character education is all about instilling values like respect, justice and good citizenship in students. My aim was to gain inspiration about character development for both Wittenborg and BetterYourself.app – a platform which helps people develop more positive behaviour.” It was a fascinating experience with room for both knowledge and networking. And all that in a historic surrounding.
Several speakers at the conference emphasised that character education should not be a separate school subject, but should be woven through all teaching. Some call this ‘split-screen teaching’ some call it ‘double helix’, in which content and character are taught simultaneously. This fits the way Wittenborg embraces ethics as a key value in all classes. I was particularly inspired by the presentation of Professor Patricia Riddell entitled “Is Learning Catching? Contagion in the Classroom”. She brought the role of the human mirror neurons to our attention. This is the part in our brain that help us to mirror behaviour of fellow human beings.
Riddell explained that these mirror neurons cause the contagion of someone else’s emotions or attitude. We all know that the enthusiastic, motivated teacher also enthuses the student. But it also works the other way around. So, if you as a student want to have enthusiastic teachers, show some enthusiasm yourself! Discussed online character development with Rebecca Mace (see the selfie photo). I also enjoyed the presentations of Dr Kathy Weston about how to improve resilience in children by engaging the parents too, and that of Dominic Randolph about how we can help students to journey with purpose and live flourishing lives.
Finally, I bought a book called ‘Character Toolkit for Teachers‘ authored by Frederika Roberts and Elizabeth Wright, which I enjoyed reading during my train (not plane) trip back to Apeldoorn.