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Chris Perrin

Cultivating Virtue in the Upper Grammar Years

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I have a 5th grader and a 6th grader and I'd say the two biggest virtues we're working on with them are self-control (temperance) and resolution (a kind of fortitude?). I want my boys to have control over their appetites and emotions, and this age seems to be key insofar as they have growing self-awareness of their appetites and desires as such, and possess more capacity to control them apart from physical discipline or direct parental restraint. I also want my boys to finish the work they have been given or undertake for themselves, thus resolution means seeing something through to completion, having taken care to follow instruction, attend to details, and perform up to their current ability with zeal. Having taught girls in 7th grade, I'd say charity and justice: charity to seek the best for their female peers for their own sake (and not to preen their vanity) and to complement rather than dominate their male peers through criticism, indifference, or parading; and justice to discern the proper proportion for their words and actions (giving compliments or criticism, how much time to spend with one or another person in the class, how to receive praise and criticism, etc.).

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