To help children learn to be individuals with integrity, it is essential to instill the virtue of honesty. At Challenger School, we teach children that honesty is a fundamental virtue that is essential for personal growth, healthy relationships, and happiness. Honesty is more than just telling the truth or avoiding lies—it means having the courage to recognize and accept reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.
One way we explore the consequences of honesty at school is during literature lessons. For example, the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird explores themes of racial injustice and moral growth, with honesty being a key virtue displayed by the protagonist, attorney Atticus Finch. In a typical seventh-grade Challenger discussion, the class would consider how Finch does not manipulate facts or withhold information, demonstrating the character’s commitment to truth and justice. The conversation would likely recognize how Finch does not shield his family from the harsh realities of their 1930s society that includes racism and injustice, and how he explains these issues honestly and encourages his children to develop their own understanding. After a frank discussion, the students will likely recognize Finch’s courage when he takes on a controversial case despite knowing it will make him unpopular in his community. Regardless of the complexities and consequences, Finch does what he believes is right, rather than what is easy or convenient.
Clearly, having integrity—acting in a manner consistent with one’s moral principles—is reliant upon living honestly. It can often be easier and more convenient to bend the truth or look the other way instead of standing firmly on principle and doing the right thing. To help teach our children we must model honest behavior and create an environment where truth is valued. Here are some ideas that can be implemented at home:
As we work together with patience and care, we can teach children that living honestly, while not always easy, is an essential part of living a happy, productive life. Then, hopefully and thankfully, children will continue to embrace this virtue long after childhood and use it as a guiding principle in their moral foundation.
2021 National Blue Ribbon School