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Instilling a culture of honour in boys

| September 4, 2017 | 0 Comments


When David Burns stepped into the role of principal of Highbury Senior Primary at Highbury Preparatory School, in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, in 2016, one of his priorities was to reignite Highbury’s culture of honour.

This was an initiative started by the school’s previous principal, Richard Stanley, based on the work of Stephen Covey.1 Culture is a powerful force that influences our behaviour, sometimes without us even knowing it, and therefore it is vital to continually shape our school culture at Highbury. The reason that it is a culture of honour is that honour is about treating people in a certain way, because we value them: there is something inside each person that makes them special. Our culture of honour is about teaching our Highbury boys to behave in an honourable way towards others – including peers, teachers and visitors – as this underpins every facet of school life.

A visual reminder that a culture of honour needs to be nurtured

We bring to life the culture of honour through a visual of a tree, which is painted as a mural on the wall between the foundation phase and the senior primary. The branches of the tree are made up of 18 words, each one specifically chosen as valuable and at the core of what Highbury stands for. The roots signify our being rooted in Christ: acknowledging that everything flows out of Him. In senior primary, teachers get the opportunity to nominate a boy every second week if they have seen him living our culture of honour through his actions or words, either inside or outside the classroom. Those boys then have the honour of wearing the new circular tree badge on their lapel for the following two weeks. Here are a few snippets of phrases to show how we talk about each part of our culture of honour with our senior primary Highbury boys. We hope it will help other schools to reinforce these messages:

Love: This is the most powerful force in the universe. It’s not just the mushy stuff you see on TV. We know what love is because of God’s example. Love others – it’s that simple.

Acceptance: It’s OK to be different. We are all accepted by God. Everyone deserves to be accepted because God accepts them.

Humility: We are all human beings. Never think of yourself as better or worse than someone else. We are humble in victory and gracious in defeat. You are never too good to say sorry.

Compassion: This is about being moved to action, seeing a need and doing something to meet it.

Courage: Courage is what it takes to be your best self – the best version of you. It’s like the “spark” that sets things in motion.

Empathy: This is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.

Honesty: Honesty is the best policy.

Loyalty: Don’t misplace your loyalty. Don’t be loyal to a friend who is behaving in a dishonourable way. Sometimes you have to do the right thing and “rat on your mate”!

Perseverance: See a task right through to being complete. Don’t make excuses for the obstacles you face. Leave it all out on the field! Independent Education • Spring 17 37

Service: Start small – service starts where you are. Service may be uncomfortable, or not where you want to be, but sometimes that is where you are needed most. What opportunities are there for us to impact people beyond our school?

Trust: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”2

Confidence: Confidence is key in life. It comes from a healthy self-image – what do you see when you look in the mirror? Who are you listening to?

Belief: A belief in God forms the foundation of Highbury. What are you going to build your life on? The rock or the sand?

Respect: You’ve got to give it to get it. It’s as simple as that.

Faith: We need it in us to help withstand the knocks of life. With faith, we can take the hits and bounce back. Kindness: It’s how we show people that we care.

Belonging: Highbury is YOUR school. You are Highbury and you belong.

Responsibility: Make good choices. Be responsible with what you have, as well as what you do.

“In senior primary, teachers get the opportunity to nominate a boy every second week if they have seen him living our culture of honour through his actions or words, either inside or outside the classroom.”

Values are vital

Burns concludes: “I believe that character and strong values are a greater indicator of success than pure talent, especially looking forward into an uncertain future. There is a trend emerging in education where helping children develop emotional intelligence, grit, compassion, values, global citizenship, etc. are as important as knowledge and skills. It is my utmost desire to see our boys leave Grade 7 with a well-developed self-image and a set of values that will help them make an impact wherever they go. Our culture of honour lays a foundation for them to build on as they become young men of significance in years to come.”

Bianca Woolley is the marketing manager at Highbury Preparatory School.

1. See, for example: weblog/archive/2013/01/29/interview-with-stephen-covey-habit-of-alifetime- 2011-02.aspx
2. See: https://www.biblegateway.




Category: Spring 2017

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