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We hear a lot now about how important positive dispositions for learning are – such as resilience, being communicative, curious, imaginative, cooperative and confident.
What do you think are the most important dispositions that we should encourage and foster in our kids?
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This is such an interesting question. I find in many schools that I work in that the use of Positive Behaviour as a framework often teaches the values that you have mentioned. Resilience is probably the most popular disposition that is taught and is very important. I have found that with many students that have come from adverse backgrounds, resilience is internally fostered because if they haven't developed it, they have less chance of surviving. So, for many of the students in specialist behaviour schools, I believe tolerance is the most important value or disposition. If kids can tolerate, not necessarily 'like' each other, but learn to tolerate differences in others, then we can work toward even more dispositions that might seem harder to develop including respect and motivation for others, self and work/study.
From my understanding, a child's disposition is closely related to their personality while their values are more closely related to their character. While I believe that some aspects of a person's disposition can be encouraged (and some discouraged), I also think that certain aspects of one's disposition might be fairly fixed and we should not try to change our kids to be someone who is not a good representation of their true selves.
I think that building innate aspects of disposition like curiosity, resilience, and independence will always stand a child in good stead. As parents we can also encourage a social disposition by making our kids aware of their social responsibility and showing them how to be empathetic towards the circumstances of others. I believe that creativity should always be nurtured - and we should teach our kids to persevere towards mastering important skills. Well considered risk-taking is also a very important as those people who are willing to try new things, even at the risk of failure are often the people who change the world.
I would say all the traits you mentioned are significant for growth of our children.
However, if you take away all of the dispositions except resiliency, I think a child can still be successful in life. How many times have we heard stories of famous and successful folks who grew up with all the odds stacked against them and still succeeded? The one trait that dominated these successful people was their ability to persevere and grow despite the obstacles that they endured. Either they learned this independently or had a champion adult who cheered them on.
So even if your child is not the most curious, smart, or athletic, they are bound for success if they have the drive to keep persevering.
I think it is very important to develop values that we as parents can present to our kids as ourselves as models/examples. We cannot expect kids to follow what we teach if we do not live on certain characters, right? I know it is difficult but as parents, we have to do our best to be role models to our kids, that way, they won't get confused with what we teach and what we expect of them.
The learning dispositions/values we would love our kids to have/foster really depend on us parents. For instance, I know parents who encourage their kids to speak up their minds because they want their kids to be confident and communicative.
But if you are to ask me and I need to choose one, I'd definitely go for resilience. We need to teach children to recover quickly from any difficulty. I am not saying we should set aside their emotions, of course, it still needs to be validated especially by our parents. But of course, the world is very tough and we have to stand our ground in making sure we are raising kids who will easily give up, who will not be pushovers, and who will stand up after a very challenging situation no matter what it takes.