Heads Up

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Message from Naheed Bardai, Head, Middle Division

Naheed BardaiWhat do you think is more important in living a purposeful life: the so-called resume virtues or eulogy virtues?

Resume virtues are thought of as credentials and accomplishments that one might literally find on a resume, and perhaps how we traditionally define achievement (skills brought to the marketplace). On the other hand, eulogy virtues are those characteristics that one is known for having that might be celebrated during and towards the end of one’s life (who you are, the nature of your character and relationships with others).

Over the past two months, our boys having been interrogating, deconstructing and debating this topic, culminating in our Colour House Debate finals on Wednesday, March 2. The resolution was “be it resolved that resume virtues are more important than eulogy virtues to have a purposeful life.” The boys were articulate, respectful and coherent in presenting their arguments on stage. In many ways, the debate focused around whether or not we can have more success (and purpose) through the acquisition of recognized achievements or through the pursuit of love and happiness. It was interesting to hear our boys negotiate their way through complex ideas and notions of values and virtues.

We know we are good (at school and home) at pushing, encouraging and coercing our boys to strive for achievement – to hit those resume virtues. How good are we at helping our boys build their depth of character and in building their own humaneness? Are we at times too focused on achievement and less focused on being a “good” human being? Are the two necessarily in conflict or opposition to each other? It is possible to “do good and be good”?

These are questions our boys will likely grapple with for the rest of their lives. What we can do is to help equip them with the skills and perspectives to think and feel their way through this and other complex issues and ideas.

If you would like to hear more about this particular issue, please view David Brooks’ TED Talk.