Opening Up Conversations on Character

Originally written as a letter to parents on January 25, 2012

This week, the middle school spent an hour laughing and smiling at the antics of The Morris Brothers.  This engaging duo uses humor as a vehicle for discussing character, respect, and responsibility. We invited them to TVS because their message is in sync with our mission and with the aims of our Advisory and Character Development Program.

When we bring in special guests or programming, we also try to build in time for students to reflect on what they see and hear.  Reflection is an important habit of mind; it allows us to pause and think about what we have experienced and how these experiences can influence our lives moving forward. 

With this in mind, today our students and faculty gathered in class meetings to build upon Thursday’s assembly.  Let me share with you three of the discussion topics:

The Morris Brothers talked about “having the courage to report.”

  • What is the difference between tattling and reporting?
  • Why is reporting important?

In the assembly, The Morris Brothers defined responsibility as “knowing what your job is, doing it, and not blaming others when you don’t.”

  • What are some areas in your life where you are expected to be responsible?
  • Why do we often want to blame someone else when something goes wrong?

Here’s one way to look at self-control: You know that you can do something but you choose not to do it.  Let’s review what The Morris Brothers called “The Chill Drill” – ways to calm down and think about your choices before acting.

  • Take a deep breath and hold it
  • Blow it out like you are a deflating balloon
  • Unclench your hands and smile. (It’s hard to smile and be angry.)
  • Silent self-talk: “Is it going to hurt me?”*  “Is it going to hurt someone else?”

When students hear similar messages from multiple sources, they stand a better chance of “tuning in.”  They are reminded that honesty and respect are not just important at home, or on the field, or in school, but in every situation. Special assemblies such as The Morris Brothers provide just one more opportunity for conversation – and I hope that by sharing this with you, I might give you a spark of an idea for a conversation with your child about these, or related, topics.

If you want to read more about The Morris Brothers, visit

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