Character has been defined as ‘the distinctive mark of an individual’. What that mark is going to be depends partly upon nature, but largely on environment and training. Children tend to imitate but they are also with reason. Character is formed, first by inculcating ideas of right and wrong in the minds of the young and secondly, by exercising the reasoning power on questions of right and wrong. More or less, all men are the architects or builders of their own characters, and if the architecture is to be a fine one, the work should commence at a very early stage.
Character depends upon imitation, tastes, talents and habits. Imitation, in the case of the young child, is instinctive and not connected with reason. But as he grows older he chooses according to reason. Then is the time for education to step in and point out what is worthy of imitation, and what is unworthy, and thus he will learn to select the best models for imitation. Ideals of self-control, courage, benevolence, truthfulness, purity and honesty should constantly be held up for the admiration of the young. They should be encouraged to read the biographies of great men, so that they may be inspired by their example.
It is to be remembered, however, that tastes and talents vary, and that children may not develop in the same direction and yet may be developing o right lines. Michael Angelo was inspired by a passion for painting, Mendelssohn lived for music, Stephenson was influenced by the steam engine at the pits mouth and Pope began, as a child, to write imitations of the poets. Just as the hand-writing of no children is alike, so no two characters are exactly similar, and different persons are alterated by different examples. Though these diversities of taste should be allowed full scope, it scope, it should never be forgotten that honour, purity and charity should be the common aim of all, whatever be their talents.
Another important factor in the formation of character is habit. It is by habit that character is fixed, just as it by conduct that it s indicated. The practice of shirking work quickly grows and if allowed, will be most difficult to eradicate. One lie will lead to another; the conscience will become accustomed to wounds and finally cease to protect. On the contrary, good habits though more difficult to form than bad habits, are with the power of all who are not radically weak and, once formed, will result in the production of a dutiful son, healthy man, a wise father and a worthy citizen. v