When you think of honor at MBA, you might automatically think about the honor code or the honor council, entities that exist to promote the integrity of academic work. In fact, the word "work" is right in the honor code pledge: "On my honor as a gentleman, I have neither given nor received aid on this work." During in-service the faculty saw a video in which a current student invoked honor in a way we don't often hear. Asked if MBA encourages students to be their true selves, the student replied, "MBA does stress the value of honor. I feel like a person's true nature comes out when they're honorable, because they're not lying about anything. They're being their true selves." According to him, the idea of honor breaches the bounds of school work and spills over into all aspects of our lives on The Hill.
Is he right? What are the implications of thinking about honor beyond the honor code?
Just as there can be a temptation to copy the work of boys who excel academically, a similar temptation can arise to "copy" the personality of popular boys. Especially in these formative years, caving to such temptations degrades boys' integrity and bears rotten fruits like toxic masculinity. Boys can find themselves pretending to be something they're not. Extended pretending leads to painful consequences when the facade falls apart, much like a student who continues cheating on his homework and ultimately pays the price on the final exam.
As a kind of vaccine against such temptations, MBA must help boys know their own self-worth and feel confident in traveling on the path that leads to their best self. When we celebrate boys for their achievements across all areas of the school, we stress the importance of hard work along the way. We don't expect every boy to be a star point guard, a virtuoso upright bass player, or an unbeatable debater. Instead, the successes of boys in certain areas serve to inspire other boys to work harder in their own areas. The game-winning shot of that star point guard might inspire an artist's next sculpture. The cool sounds played by that upright bassist might inspire a poet's next verse. The sublime turns of that debater's argument might inspire a running back's search for the ideal path through the defensive line.
We look forward to building upon the unique strengths of all 825 students on campus this year. They've each got plenty of honorable qualities, so there's no need to copy.