KIP charter schools are offering teachers, children, and parents pragmatic and adventuresome ways to talk about and develop character. Their approach is based on the research of Dr. Martin Seligman (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Chris Peterson (University of Michigan). It focuses on the seven qualities essential for the creation of engaged, meaningful, and purposeful lives. We see many parallels to the spiritual practices we have identified in the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy.

We are thrilled to see Zest on the list (we talk about zeal as the passion for life whereas they emphasize enthusiasm and approaching new situations with energy and excitement). Other familiar character qualities are Gratitude (we both emphasize recognizing that we depend on the help of others and need to express our appreciation), Curiosity (we call it wonder and having a questing spirit eager to explore new things and ask good questions), Grit (perseverance and patience in achieving long-term goals), Optimism (believing that the future holds positive possibilities; we would include hope and yearning under this character quality), Self-Control (for the KIP emphasis on regulating thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, our practices would be peace, attention, and kindness), and Social Intelligence (KIP would explain this as having an awareness of other people's motives and feelings, qualities we include in the spiritual practices of you, connections, and unity).

Eleanor Roosevelt once noted: "Character building begins in our infancy and continues until death." We cheer KIP Charter schools for their attempt to integrate these character qualities into young people's curriculum as a balance to the emphasis on intelligence alone.

We are moving at the other end of the age spectrum and hoping to take advantage of the confluence of conscious aging and character development. With large numbers of Baby Boomers turning 65, it is the right time to explore the elder stage of life as an opportunity to do the inner and outer work necessary to lead flourishing lives. For more on this see "Refining Character as Elders."

Next Post: Death of Novelist Robert Stone