Educating the virtue of fortitude from childhood: a challenge in 21st century education.

Nowadays, the education of the virtue of fortitude in schools is a major challenge because, for the correct growth and development of the child, it is necessary that school and family go hand in hand.

Mónica Ríos de Juan-April 19, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes
virtue strength

Photo credit: Gaby Orcutt / Unsplash

Translation of the article into Italian

In what does the virtue of fortitude consist?

People are vulnerable from the very moment of conception. This condition means that we are susceptible to wounds, which does not imply that we are not capable of resisting and overcoming them. It is precisely this vulnerability that allows us to develop the virtue of fortitude.

This virtue is worked in the midst of difficulty. A strong person is one who, in addition to accepting and coping with pain, strives to achieve a difficult good by overcoming the difficulties that arise in the process and persevering in spite of them.

Thus, to the extent that we renounce small things that we feel like doing but do not involve effort, and bet on those that have a greater value, we grow in self-control, perseverance and joy, virtues directly related to fortitude.

Current problems

Trigo (2002) considers education in this virtue to be fundamental if we seek an orderly and healthy growth in all dimensions, since he states that the four cardinal virtues, among which is fortitude, play a fundamental role in the maturity of a person, and affirms that nothing makes a person mature as much as pain or difficulty.

In a consumerist society where people act on the basis of "I feel like it" instead of "I want to, even if it costs me" or "I must, even if it costs me", this self-control comes into play insofar as people allow themselves to be dominated by the external. In this way, when the will does not act, there is a weakening of the will, increased by the need for immediacy when wanting to achieve any goal.

This situation, combined with the fact that today's families are dominated by a style of education overprotectiveThe "fortitude" of children, characterized by the desire to avoid any type of effort and suffering in their children, has a negative impact on the development of the virtue of fortitude in children.

Taking into account the characteristics of the society of the 21st century, nowadays the education of the virtue of fortitude in schools is a major challenge, since the first educational environment is the family, the basic cell of society, and for the correct growth and development of the child it is necessary that school and family go hand in hand.

Is it possible to start working from birth?

We know that the sensitive period for developing this virtue is 6-12 years. However, it is considered essential to start putting it into practice from the first years of life for several reasons.

In the first place, because the smaller the child is and the fewer resources he has, the more vulnerable he is and therefore the more he needs the exercise of this virtue to overcome the difficulty. And finally, because the virtue of fortitude is the basis of all other virtues, for without effort it is not possible to acquire any other virtue.

How can we work on it in Early Childhood Education?

In Early Childhood Education, the pillars can be established by working on any of the virtues mentioned above:

From the order. A strong person must be able to have a schedule and stick to it, plan everything that needs to be done and prioritize what is important and not what is urgent. When one establishes an order in his priorities, he does not let himself be carried away by "I feel like it" but by "I must" and thus he builds a solid and strong personality. The sensitive period to work on order is from 3-6 years, therefore, teaching children to leave everything in its place will lay the foundations so that tomorrow they will have order in their priorities and fight for what is really important.

From the self-controlThis virtue allows us to learn to say no to everything that could be an obstacle in the achievement of our goal, as well as to take advantage of the time being masters of ourselves and not to make the decision to give up in moments of fatigue. The child can be helped to resist and manage impulses that occur in the present moment, thus being able to delay the reward. For example, if he wants an ice cream before dinner, we can help him to know how to wait and to understand that first he must have dinner and then the ice cream.

From the patience and the frustration tolerance. St. Thomas related the virtue of fortitude to patience, explaining that this virtue allows one to accept the reality of a difficult situation, which helps a person to continue to strive and wait without being discouraged or sad. For example, not buying without reason a toy that the child wants at that moment and waiting for his birthday or the Three Wise Men.

From the perseverance. This virtue implies being constant in our efforts to achieve a goal. For example, encouraging the child to try to tie his or her shoelaces as many times as necessary.

From the generosity. The child of this age is characterized by being self-centered and coping with a difficult situation where he has to look out for the good of the other may help him grow in strength. For example, giving in and giving the last cookie to his brother.

Inevitably, by working on this virtue, we will foster growth in other virtues, such as the joyThe person who strives for something good is always happy. Such satisfaction comes from knowing that he is striving for something that is truly worthwhile.

In short, helping children from an early age to establish the basis for developing this virtue will strengthen their will in later years, having a positive impact on their growth and development as a person and, therefore, on their happiness. In the words of Seneca "per aspera ad astra".

The authorMónica Ríos de Juan

Primary school teacher at the San Juan Evangelista school, and nurse.

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