Currently, third-level colleges are in the process of changing an inadequate points system, and will now look at the personal attributes of students as well as their overall school performance. Top employers in ever-changing workplace environments achieve success through employing young people who show personal qualities and high level social skills, together with the so-called “soft skills”. Future family enrichment for young people depends on them acquiring good personal habits such as sincerity, perseverance and a spirit of service. Therefore, it is no accident that character education is central to what Rockbrook does.
The goal of character education is to help young people to develop good habits that will enable them to flourish intellectually, personally and socially. Good habits, also known as virtues, such as diligence, sincerity, personal accountability, courage and perseverance enable a person to develop better relationships and to work better. It is these virtues which also enable young people to become better students.
A Rockbrook education places a strong emphasis on character education. The school places a lot of store on educating boys to be well-balanced young men, while ensuring that they get the academic results that they need in order to succeed. Academic learning and striving for academic excellence is a driver for character education, while the school also places emphasis on social and emotional learning. Personal attention is the order of the day with professional personal mentoring, or life coaching, constantly challenging young people to face up to responsibilities. As a young person‚ physical development and attitude to personal fitness also shape the person that he is to become, these are addressed through worthwhile sporting opportunities.
Rockbrook aims to develop hard-working independent thinkers who are committed to moral principles in their lives, and who are thus more likely to do the right thing even under challenging circumstances. So character development is at the heart of the school’s code of behaviour. It permeates the syllabus, the school’s vertical house system or “clanns”, and the many after-school clubs. An adventurous overseas trips programme, and a relatively adaptable transition year bring the focus of character education outside the classroom. The monthly character programme helps families to implement character aims at home. Regular reports on academic and personal behaviour together with personal meetings between parents and mentor each term, ensure that all work together for the long-term benefit of the student. Everyone, and not just the select few, is challenged, through character education, to become a leader in Rockbrook.
A key word in character education is that of improvement. Students seek to improve behaviour and attitudes; teachers, and also the mentors, encourage improvement in selected areas; students are encouraged to examine themselves on their own progress; while teachers and parents work together to seek improvement from the students. In this manner, the palpable family tone connecting students, staff, and parents in Rockbrook helps ensure the transformative nature of the character education programme.
Since 2017, a new subject, Wellbeing, is being gradually established as part of the new Junior Cycle curriculum. In Rockbrook we aim to help young people have a sense of purpose, to develop resilience to help deal with the normal stresses of life and to take care of their physical, emotional and spiritual development, to enhance their sense of belonging to wider communities and to desire to be part of a society built on justice and solidarity. This is essentially what Wellbeing is and at its heart is personal character development. Consequently we name our Wellbeing programme ‘Men of Character’.
Click the play button to watch our video ‘Virtues’