In the film Wonder, Mr Browne writes on the board:
“Your deeds are your monuments.”
This gets me immediately thinking. If it gets me thinking then it’s going to get my children thinking. I have to use this idea.
I then read the book by R.J. Palacio and realised this was one I needed others to read too. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time in the oral and maxillofacial surgery department, I can really empathise with Auggie and his cranofacial difference. Scars can make us look different and to some almost like villains.
There are so many messages in Wonder and so many key moments. A stand out one for me is when school principal says, “Auggie Pullman can’t change the way he looks but maybe we can change how we see.”
So back to the precepts.
In Wonder, a teacher named Mr. Browne begins his first day of teaching English to his 5th grade class with a lesson on precepts. He asks the class, “Does anyone know what a precept is?” and after some discussion, he informs the children that precepts are “rules about really important things.”
As R.J. Palacio says,
In a nutshell, precepts are words to live by. You can find a precept in a book you’re reading, in a song you’ve heard, or in a fortune cookie. It doesn’t matter where, but if a phrase rings true to you, and it can help guide you in making a decision, then make it your own personal precept.
Mr. Browne tells his class that he’s going to be giving them a precept every month until the end of the year, and every month they’re going to discuss the precept and write an essay about what it means to them.
The precept Mr. Browne chooses for September is a qoute by Dr. Wayne Dyer: “If you have the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
This precept sets the tone for the rest of the year at Beecher Prep and it’s a great quote to discuss and get under the skin of.
So the bottom line is – we have to teach Wonder and promote tolerance and kindness. Being a kind classroom in a kind school is a non-negotiable.
The power of precepts can be used to discuss all sorts of messages and ideas and so I wouldn’t limit them to one a month. I think this is something you could do every day, go rogue and really stretch them into something special.
What are your favourite precepts?
If you read 365 Days of Wonder by R.J. Palacio then you learn that precepts are maxims of great weight and there are plenty to go around.
Changing Faces is a United Kingdom charity supporting and representing children, young people and adults who have a visible difference to the face, hands or body, whether present from birth or caused by accident, injury or by illness or medical episode.