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Irving Middle School’s “Kind Cougars” are highlighting important character virtues in a series of “virtue of the month” videos to encourage classmates to be kind and thoughtful toward one another.

Norman, Oklahoma, students Sutton Willis, Nora Morrow, Aliriah Barrett, and Eva Condon offered examples of perseverance in a January video, and discussed why it’s an important element of success.

“A great way to show perseverance is realizing you can push through the tough times and never give up,” Sutton said.

“ . . . If you have a divorce in your family, or you had a death, or you got a bad grade on a test, by pushing through it and never giving up, that’s showing perseverance,” Barrett added.

The virtue video project is an example of the kind of noncognitive learning that the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture’s James Davison Hunter and Ryan Olson deem “essential” in The Content of Their Character, a summary of research into character formation in a variety of schools.

To be sure, a considerable and consistent effort has been made to address the so-called “noncognitive” aspects of child development. By “noncognitive,” scholars and educators tend to mean the attitudes, behaviors, and strategies that are believed also to underpin success in school and at work—capacities such as self-motivation, perseverance, and self-control, but also empathy, honesty, truthfulness, and character more broadly. And surely the instinct is a good one: For children to flourish in schools and in their future lives, it is essential that these dimensions of their lives be developed too.

The Kind Cougars video is part of an initiative with the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma, which offers further reading on perseverance and why it’s especially important for students.

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