“To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.” – Confucius
Recent news has been full of examples of questionable integrity. Three alone have received national attention:
- The college admissions scandal
- Jussie Smollett case
- Michael Cohen
Integrity, one of the core values of Roycemore, refers to “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” All three of the above are glaring examples of dishonest behavior. In these cases, the lack of integrity is very clear, however that is not always the case. Given the undisputed lack of integrity displayed in these cases, it makes one wonder what was (or was not) in place during these individuals formative years that might have influenced such extreme lack of judgement.
We have the opportunity at Roycemore to do better with our young people. Roycemore’s strategic plan states, “Our commitment to truth, personal responsibility, and fairness in our judgements provides a foundation for the sense of trust throughout our school community as we adhere to high ethical standards.” Why is integrity such an important core value for Roycemore, and why is it important to emphasize it as part of our philosophy of education in preparing students for future careers?
Integrity is an important core value for Roycemore because in order to build effective partnerships based on mutual respect and understanding, there must be a foundation of trust. Trust grows when individuals know that they can count on each others’ word and that they will do what they say they will do. In our small, close-knit environment, teachers, students and families know each other well, and strong, trusting, relationships are essential to the partnership that helps young people achieve their full potential. When trust is a shared value that envelops every relationship in our community, we foster an environment where all can thrive. This is just as true in a group project in a science lab as it is on the stage in a theater production. When we trust each other, we can be more vulnerable and push ourselves to grow.
Once our students graduate from Roycemore, the importance of their integrity grows even stronger as they enter into college and their future career. According to the World Economic Forum in the next 20 years, the world of work will change dramatically, requiring ongoing education and training including acquisition of “meta-skills such as entrepreneurship, teamwork, curiosity and adaptability.” For successful teamwork to take place, integrity is essential. Teamwork requires cooperation, and it is difficult to get someone to cooperate with you if they don’t trust you. The most challenging problems of the world today cannot be solved by single individuals. They will require creative solutions that are developed by interdisciplinary teams. Teams that can think divergently. Trust will be necessary for these teams to do their best work. A person with integrity engenders trust, and we are more likely to want to work with them or to work for them.
In the rapid-pace rate of change that surrounds us and the incredible transformation we are witnessing due to technology, all kinds of ethical issues are cropping up. We will be more and more challenged by these complications and the moral choices we will face. Who will you trust as you make critical decisions for yourself and your family? How will you know to trust them? To be able to make informed decisions using good judgement we will rely more and more on our ability to trust the individuals, corporations, organizations, and governments that are providing us with the information we are receiving. Those entities that engender trust as a result of consistent demonstration of integrity, will ultimately be the ones that will prevail.