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By Dr. Arthur Schwartz 

I love reading Daniel Pink. The ideas from his books always spark my imagination. 

In collaboration with the Washington Post, he recently announced a new project titled Why Not? Over the course of the year, Pink will “be offering up ideas – bold, unexpected, maybe a bit jarring – to improve our country, our organizations, or our lives.”

Inspired by Pink’s project, Character.org is starting our own version of Why Not? Once a month, we will imagine a future where character has been woven into all aspects of parenting, schools, sports, after-school programs, and the workplace…and then ask: Why not?

First up is an idea I’ve been noodling on for a few years. Can you imagine a future where all schools – at all grade levels – have developed a Portrait of a Graduate that includes ways for schools to determine (okay, assess) the extent to which their students understand, care about, and consistently practice the character strengths that will enable them to flourish in school, in the workplace, and as citizens?

More specifically, aligned with each Portrait’s indicators, every school (whether elementary, middle, or high schools) has put in place a learning opportunity for each graduating student to explain and demonstrate – via a formal presentation – their own “signature strengths” as well as the steps they have taken to self-assess and reflect on their own character growth. The end-of-the-year presentation would ask each student to present and discuss a variety of personalized artifacts, ranging from reflective essays, inspiring videos, photos, artwork, and more.  

Like doctoral students presenting their research to a small committee, each student would present to a small group of staff members and volunteer parents. At the core of the presentation is an open-ended discussion that encourages each student to explain how they are developing a “striving mindset” – a lifelong conviction and active commitment to becoming their best possible selves.

I look forward to reading your responses to our inaugural Why Not? post. 

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1 Comment

  1. Lili Borrero

    Our school has already laid the groundwork with the Learner Profile (what we call the Portrait of a Graduate), which integrates the four core values. To further enrich this instructional framework, which aims to guide students in becoming their best possible selves in thought, desire, and action, I’m enthusiastic about exploring the concept of a character e-portfolio. This tool would empower each student to map their character development journey and foster reflection—a wonderful way to leverage technology in service of character. Why not?

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