« Down With Vouchers? | Main | Cash Rewards for Students? »

Improving Character Education


Is character education an essential part of schooling? The authors of two recent Education Week Commentaries think so, and offer their thoughts on how it could be improved.

Peter R. Greer argues that many schools are providing character education on the cheap, presenting it in "ways that require little effort and have no lasting impact." Matthew Davidson, Thomas Lickona, and Vladimir Khmelkov urge educators to develop lessons on performance character and moral character in order to encourage students to work to their highest potential.

What do you think? Does character education need to be improved and if so, how?


I'm a children's author and when I do school visits, we role play situations from my character education books (especially some of the stories about bullies) and this gives each student the opportunity to really "feel" the same situation from various viewpoints. When we role-play the stories about bullies, we always wind up discussing the important role the "bystander" plays in bullying situations. Role-playing works very well to increase empathy which is sometimes lacking in our society which has been so desensitized to so many things.

Character Education needs to be a coordinated, integrated part of every school curriculum. Additionally a program of Social Emotional Learning must be provided in every school as it is impossible to teach one effectively without the other. Character Ed without SEL provides a way for students to identify and clarify core values but no way to implement them and SEL provides a set of skills and mechanisms that students can use to incorporate those values in day to day living. SEL withoput character Ed lacks the "directionality" and community emphasis needed to live a good, successful life.

Many of us in the "older generation" look back a bit too fondly on our school years, talking about the better regulation and control of schools of the past. We spin tales of discipline and its' beneficial effects, forgetting the prison like structure of lining up ebery morning and marching to classrooms where we then were subjectes to role call, prayer (in my case) and the Pledge of Allegiance. Too easily we forget protesting dress codes and limits on hair length for boys, styles for girls. The day was regimented and those that did choose to rebel were quickly quelled and seemed to disappear.
The result of the regimentation was a rise in rebellious, free thinking adults that changed a good part of our society, loosening the regulation and regimentation in schools to the point that many students don't even see themselves as rebellious anymore, just trendy or stylish.
Somewhere in the middle there is a more or less acceptable level ground that makes all students equal to a degree. Students need to know that at school they are expected to respect each other, their teachers and their school grounds. They need to be reminded that their actions off school grounds reflect back on their school and the many people that work very hard to provide them with a decent and free education. It isn't easy to spend twelve years in school, but it is much harder to waste those years and not gain anything from them that will help the individual through the remaining decades of their lives. Students should be reminded that their choices have consequences. It is up to them to decide which consequences they want to get.

Character Education is often misapplied in our school district and is used as a reward-punishment system that dilutes the meaning of "character." Children who show "good" character are given t-shirts, pizza certificates and have their pictures posted on the Wall of Character. Children who show "bad" character are punished with a loss of recess and have to fill out a paper form explaining how they'll show "good" character in the future.

Sadly, teachers and other adults in the school often fail to teach and model the very character traits we want to see in the students. Adults who yell at children, use sarcasm or treat students harshly are hardly the character models I want my children to emulate.

In our school system, character education is just another method to control and manipulate students.

Character Education sounds good. First I've heard of it. With all the pressure to get high test scores in schools, who do you suppose has time for character education. If children were surrounded by models of good character, there would be no need for it. My question is "What do they mean by Character Education?" In my opinion, children need respect and belief in them as children and must be allowed that, even as we teach them to read, write, do math and science.
They need boundaries, but most of all they need
caring in order to care about themselves and others. It doesn't seem we need a curriculum for this. It should be a natural part of how the school functions. Children will learn by how they are treated.

I'd like to add an, "AMEN," to the statement from Deanna Enos. I doubt if any of my teachers, including most of those at university level, studied Plato, Aristotle, etc. to learn the "philosophical foundations of the Western ethical tradition" so that they could teach good character traits to their students. For heaven's sake, people....they MODELED them. In this way the teaching of "character" is imbedded in every class they attend, every school function, every religious experience...need I go on? Most of us didn't learn respect, honesty, good citizenship, etc., from having a formal classroom course of study. Teaching character can occur in a math class, literature class, social studies class, history class, on field trips or community service events.
We talk with every mentor in our program about modeling the behavior that they expect in their mentee....no "character trait of the week" will make a lasting impression.

While traveling thoughout the Bahamas, I asked my guide about the colorful uniforms all the school children wore. He explained that the countries' students were very proud of their schools and everyone on each island could easily identify each uniform with the sponsoring school. He added that no student would commit a crime or innappropriate act because it would immediately bring shame to their school and local community. I am not advocating school uniforms but I do think we need to stress the concept in character education that what you do individually impacts people beyond you.

The second thing was a quote I heard from Dr. Dale Meade, a missionary and college professor serving for many years in Colombia, South America. Addressing students at a private university known for technology careers he said: "If your curriculum teaches you technology skills that will enrich you materially but neglects to teach you how to enrich the lives of others around you it is a failed curriculum".

In this culture, students need to know that having a purpose such as making the world a better place is much more important than simply amasing wealth.

Textbooks on "Character"? Lessons on "Character"? I've been away from my beloved profession for too long! Somewhere along the way the notion of teaching by example got lost as educational "packagers" tried to develop "teacher-proof" curricula for all manner subjects. To review the obvious, much more can be "caught than taught". For example, a teacher who strives to exemplify good character in dealings with students and staff might actually be such a powerful 'witness' to desirable personal qualities that his style just might be "catching". We used to hear: "Let peace begin with me." The implication that peacefullness would "catch on". But when the front office has not much of an operational understanding of character or how it is passed on, what could one expect? Perhaps when school administrations take time to appreciate teachers as MODELS rather than "package delivery modules" there might be a chance to start real character development in children. But, alas, when the leader is a pencil-pusher/bean counter/clock-watcher, the simplest way to discharge a character-building responsibility is just to distribute books, close the office door, and go back to the spoprts page.

Character education is not a subject to teach. It is a lifestyle to model. It is something that can be acquired by students through watching what the teachers value. Do we require something of them but not of ourselves? Think of how much attention we pay in staff meetings or inservices.

We need to help students acquire concepts of character and good citizenship by labeling what we do and what we see. Most effective learning and education happens as we do what we are learning. It happens in context not in a work sheet or in a book we read for the test. It is in daily living, in context of how we use it. Use those teachable moments to help students apply those characteristics. Help students see how our actions affect those around us. That is the most effective education, particularly character around.

Character education as it is exists is worthless except as brain-washing for the masses. There can be no true standards of character without an over-arching ethic of natural law or law of God. Any other foundation is shifting sand -- based on human reason or emotion that changes with each individual. Since our culture will no longer allow public schools to teach moral behavior, how can we teach about "right character"? Has character become our new secular religion?

As a professional social worker, I have worked with children and adults in an environment that focused explicitly on the teaching of values. It required clarity about the mission and values of the organization and a continual exploration of how these values might be operationalized in all aspects of program. It led us to challenge children about who they chose to buddy up with, how decision were made, how we organized ourselves, and even how we referred to one another (the director herself, a woman who was highly regarded, was referred to by her first name, in recognition that her age, responsibility and education did not make her more worthy of respect than any child in our community).

One thing that we believed was that it is not possible to NOT teach values (for to attempt to do so is an implicit endorsement of something--perhaps anarchy).

All schools do teach values--the real shame is how little they are examined. To the extent that schools do not offer an equal opportunity to all students, we teach that some are more deserving. To the extent that teachers and administration do not work together cohesively, we teach that in school it's every man for himself. To the extent that we allow students to fall through the cracks, we teach that some do not matter. When we place desks in rows aimed at the front of the room, we teach that it is the relationship between the teacher and student that is paramount. When we arrange seats so that students view one another, or in groups, we teach that we expect them to learn together.

When we barracade the school from the surrounding community, we teach that our students and their families are dangerous. When the school does not respect a student's parents, we teach that this is acceptable.

Granted--someone is out their selling "character" in a box, confined to an hour a week. Maybe that's a start--more likely a means of avoiding the kind of self-reflection that accompanies truly recognizing how we teach character.

Are we simply educating young people to prepare them for the workforce? I would hope not. The founding fathers deemed education the driver of the 'American' revolution. How can we have a functioning democracy without creating better citizens, better relationships and better communities? The best way to conduct character education is a thorough course in civics, one that prepares us to participate in improving our communities, our society as a whole and our individual relationships. Philosophy is also a far more important course than we currently give it credit for. A good philosophy course teaches us to ask the important questions: Who shall I be? How do I get at the truth? What is important, and how do I keep in in front of me and those with whom I associate? Character is driven by such questions, and we are not currently teaching young people to ask them. We want everyone to take a course in Algebra. How many will use it, or even be able to relate to its value? We require no one to take philosophy. How many would be impacted by its study?

If you are fortunate enough to have a JROTC unit in your school then you already have a character education program up and running. If you are one of those people who believes the program is comprised of drill and physical training I would recommend that you take a hard at the course of study. It is covers all of the tenants of character education and is designed to develop better citizens and leaders in our communities.

Character education can't be taught in a classroom. It can only be molded through experience, as has to come from within. Character cannot be imposed externally.

For instance, if you want to "teach" compassion, role playing being nice with your classmates won't work. If anything, you're making a mockery of it.

Instead, put a young person in a place of responsibility: such as volunteering for 8 hours per week in a soup kitchen, or taking care of the yard work for an elderly neighbor.

What if kids had school only four days a week, with one day dedicated completely to performing service? No pay. No grades. Just the satisfaction of helping another human being. That's character education.

Students are not stupid. They learn what is REALLY important by observing the behavior of adults as they fight to amass piles of money. When their school district's superintendent is the highest paid supt. in state history and refuses to divulge the details of his taxpayer-paid compensation and retirement enhancements over-and-above the state's educational pension system, and taxpayers file a lawsuit to try to bring the secrets into the light, I wonder what that teaches the students about character? I recall supervising a lunch period right after Christmas vacation. Students at several tables were busy revealing their lists of presents received. Then they got busy with calculators and soon discovered who was "loved" the most at their table. Did they learn this value system from "character books" or "character courses"? No. They simply watched and listened to adults and noticed what consumed the majority of their focus and passion.

Fight THAT with packaged books and courses!

The character trait schools must focus on teaching is personal responsibility.
This can't be taught orally, kids must learn through their mistakes. For example, they will learn this through teachers that crack down on cheating, get tough on kids to turn in quality homework, etc.
This is one of the biggest components for why some kids don't do well in high school--they didn't come in with personal responsibility and they found taking short cuts was easier than learning to get it.
Take away NCLB, add funds... you won't necessarily prepare kids for the real world. Unless you teach personal responsibility.

I have been scouring web pages and industry trades for several years and this is the first time I have come across any indication of controversy about CE by professional educators. I will share what I have found though.

I am continually baffled at how character education - which on the surface of it sounds great - can win funding and accolades while never demonstrating evidence of either need or results. Is all that is required for adoption is a slick marketing campaign to the politicians and school boards in order to acquire popular support (complete with entreaties to emotional and fear issues and a healthy dose of language from pop psychology and a wink to Christian religion) and then you are done? Who could object to "character education", right? Moreover, the phrase functions wonderfully as political catchword.

Research on the subject has yet to turn up one peer-reviewed study demonstrating any scientifically validated need for or result from character education programs. On the other hand, flaws in the "research" showing "correlations" are well documented. There is really no excuse for a reputable study to not have been conducted at this point - especially, when considering that character education has no basis in accepted educational theory in the first place. Such a dearth of validity makes it hard to just give it the benefit of the doubt.

What's worse, the actual peer reviewed studies that have been done, show character education programs to be not only ineffectual, but "negatively correlated" with results!

Today's character education would seem to fall right in line with a string of similarly flawed and famously failed school programs: "religious education", "moral education", "values education"... However, not to be deterred by lack of results, character education programs abound, forging ahead – each trotting out entirely different lists of politically-entangled core values and means for implementing them! Their dissensions from one another's goals and criticisms of each other is enlightening.

Certainly, it is unfortunate for the entire field that there is no valid psychological definition of "character". The term has no clinical meaning; which probably also explains why there can be no way to measure if an individual has a deficit of it, or if a school program can improve it. If there was anything quantifiable, one might be able to judge the benefit of one approach over the other – or any benefit at all.

It is telling, perhaps, that the one thing these competing programs all agree on is that the end goal is the child or employee's compliance with authority and conformity with conservative values. Is that how we wish to define the greatness of America's "national character" these days? What about the spirit of inquiry, independence and innovation that defines the true character of a great nation? On the much-lauded "Magic School Bus" TV show, the class slogan is "Get Messy, Take Risks, Make Mistakes", just the opposite of the stated goals on character education lists.

Sure, on the surface of it, who wouldn't be in favor of something as grand sounding as character education? Yet, slick marketing aside, that is not enough to justify exposing our children to such an unknown, ideologically-driven quantity. As far as the schools go, even if character education could be proven to achieve its conservative aims, public education has no business taking the culture wars to children.

What should schools be focusing on, instead? To start with how about an even playing field for all students by correcting antagonistic factors in the social structure; offer a fair, well-funded educational environment; provide solid, verifiable facts; train in the critical thinking skills to separate the "angles" and hype from the truth; and then let students decide what kind of society they will create for themselves.

In sum, character education sure sounds good - if only it worked.

For references, please see http://members.cox.net/patriotismforall/character_ed_links.html

"Teachers and schools tend to mistake good behavior for good character. What they prize is docility, suggestibility; the child who will do what he is told; or even better, the child who will do what is wanted without even having to be told. They value most in children what children least value in themselves. small wonder that their effort to build character is such a failure; they don't know it when they see it."
How Children Fail, John Holt

Mr. Cornwall makes some valid points--not only about "character education," but any sort of vaguely defined in-a-box program. It is true that this blog has not defined "character education," and it is likely that the values underlying most of the in-a-box programs have to do with those that align with capitalism at its worst (let the buyer beware, and anything for a buck).

Certainly this ambiguity pulls in those from the right who want to control prayer, thought and uteri as well as those on my end of the spectrum who want to examine education for what and for whom. Given that arena, it is entirely believeable that there is no evidence of success.

However, in the interest of looking at some possible definitions, management theory (and I am not conversant in the research) has for some time supported values clarity in the form of easily understood and applied values and mission statements (without dictating to the specifics contained therein). I did see a recent reference to one of the pharmaceuticals that started from their mission/values in responding (successfully) to a crisis (bad stuff discovered in their medicine after it hit the shelves)--particularly to accepting responsibility publicly for their own errors. It is at this point a textbook case.

In addition, there are subsets of "values" or "character" education that do have supportive research findings. I think first of the Olweus anti-bullying work. To my mind, this falls within the arena of "character education." Others may disagree. Also, there is the work of Sugai and others in Positive Behavior Support. Although too often relegated to the special ed folks dealing with extreme behaviors, Sugai has been very clear that he takes an environmental approach. Without attention to the whole learning environment, the individual interventions are doomed. But it is also significant that the attention in the whole learning environment is one that is highly inclusive of students' understanding, implementing and (to an age appropriate degree) formulating the code of conduct. This would also seem to fall within the context of character education.

I would be very interested in what research has shown about failed or harmful programs that are defined as "character education." I am aware that some strategies ("scared straight" type programs, for instance) could also fall under the general umbrella, and he is right, the evidence demonstrates some real harm. But I do think that in this case it is an ill-conceived (albeit popular)strategy that has failed to bring about change. Perhaps he is thinking also about DARE--although I think that prevention of drug use falls wll outside "character" (and the failure of DARE as a set of strategies certainly ought not to doom the goal of lowering drug use).

In the end, I have to come back to my central belief that to refuse an examination of values within the context of teaching is to endorse whatever walks in the door--or is pushed. One can choose to teach values consciously, or ignore the subject and teach them without examination.

If schools want to implement "behavior modification" programs in the schools (i.e., bullying-prevention) that's fine. But character education implies much more: 1) that enough student's can be shown to have a deficit of it to warrant it as a school-wide intervention and 2) that it has a positive effect in reaching a measurable goal.

You asked for negative studies.

A Critique of Research Evaluating Moral Education Interventions (A scathing critique at that.)

"Given the widespread use and support for [Character Education] programs, what are these programs accomplishing? Are students becoming better people? Better in whose eyes? This paper addresses these questions by summarizing evaluation research on moral education programs and concludes that the evaluation research, as a whole, is "a-theoretical," of poor quality, and/or too fragmented to contribute to a sound, accumulative knowledge base for academic or application purposes."

"A study by Greenberg and Fain (1981), failed to find any significant results in measures operationally defined to represent 'character'..."

"Hartshorne and May's 10,000+ student study of attitudes and behaviors...is commonly thought to have ended the character education wave of the 1920's. The report concluded that character education, as then practiced, had no positive correlation to good behavior, in fact, "...the prevailing ways of inculcating ideals probably do little good and do some harm" (cf Leming 1993)"

"The problem of confusing morality with social conformity cannot be ignored. This represents the most serious theoretical flaw in moral education: the way in which "moral" is operationally defined. Students in times of slavery, pogroms, or other prejudice would be emulating community values by participating in cruelty and social injustice. Such acts cannot be considered moral, despite social and political support. We can never assume that our society is free from such injustices, because we may be blinded ourselves by social acceptability. Therefore, true moral education must empower students with the ability to deconstruct social norms in terms of universal values of social justice-- in this way moral education can also gain a powerful ally in the multicultural education movement."

Please see other references on my web page at http://members.cox.net/patriotismforall/character_ed_links.html
and there is a lot more I have to say about character education in another couple of essays you can find there, which are soon to be published in a college text by McGraw-Hill/CLS.

Mr. Cornwall and Margo (and many others)--I think you are only looking at "character education" as it is defined by the "values" voters who want to see kids stay away from drugs, sex, violence and look be lead by christian "morals" (and i put that in quotations because the meaning of christian morals is so subjective).

Like so many other things in education, we must change the definition of CE because I don't believe trying to instil "morals" in kids is effective. Instead, it should involve getting kids to do quality work, because that will have the consequence of kids with "morals" (non religious ones at least). This would be enforced by teachers who enforce quality work. For example, not assigning busywork for homework that becomes hard to grade and leads to students exploiting this and copying homework, therefore developing the habit of taking shortucts. Also, teachers should be vigilant during their lectures and when they give tests to make sure students are paying attention. Getting away from the mentality that you can hurdle over learning and just get the grade is what is so detrimental to kids' character these days. Unfortunately, this is because of standardized testing and the CollegeBoard.

12th grader,
You will find this article of interest in support of your position.

The Alliance of Standards and Character: Why It Does More Harm Than Good to American Education

"The overall national school reform movement is characterized by two far-reaching
initiatives: the move toward uniformity in curriculum and assessment via standardized
testing and the effort to involve schools in traditional moral education in the name of
character education. These two initiatives ally together and promote each other’s
agendas, forming a powerful force in the nation’s schools. This essay looks critically into
the union of standards movement and character education and reveals why such a union
does more harm than good to American education. The essay starts with a brief critique
of the standards-based and test-driven reform movement. Then, it examines how
character education, presumably having the potential to challenge the content-oriented
reform agenda, actually promotes the standards and testing formula. The essay concludes
with a call for a transformative school reform movement that addresses the fundamental
structural and cultural problems of American schools. Moral education, within this new
reform framework, must challenge the cultural conditions in schools and make the entire educational process morally defensible."

"Under the framework of this [hypothetical] common culture, traditional knowledge and moral values, authority, standards, national identity, and market-driven principles are interwoven and emphasized. As the standards movement largely promotes the cultural politics of conservative power elites, character education reinforces their ideological control of values in American schools."

"While mere behavioral conformity is emphasized, moral reasoning and moral affect disappear. Critical thinking is smothered. The knowledge, attitudes, ability, and skills needed for making important moral decisions in complex life situations are paid little attention."

What Works Clearinhouse lists a number of programs with sound evidence of having an effect on behavior, attitudes or both.

WWC & Sound evidence... the evidence doesn't seem particularly sound... not only were ALL of their studies conducted within the past 1 year (how can you see any long term effects if it's been a year?) but they use subjective qualitative ideas instead of quantitative language to present their data. The few numbers they used (the percentage points) were not defined at all. And how exactly did they define "positive effect"?

And although "drug prevention" is part of what people call "character education," I know from both personal experience and growing up with all sorts of friends, doing quality work is the rock to which you can build other things on. If students don't care about school, why should they care about smoking pot every once in a while? or treating authority figures with respect? You may not see the correlation but it's definitely there. School should seem like a job--a paycheck is a very tangible result for x amount of work, which is why a lot of even well off students choose jobs over schoolwork. For many kids, it seems like actual learning has no valuable effects... you don't really have to learn to do well. and if you're 14-16 years old college seems so impossibly far away that if you don't know what you want to do you may as well do something other than obess about doing things that will get you into college.

12 grader--I appreciate you hanging in on this conversation. What Works evaluates and synthesizes available research on various topics/interventions. They set particularly high standards for inclusion (the typical criticism is that they are unrealistically high in demanding either randomized-control or quasi-experimental design). Some of those selected are quite large.

What you are most likely looking at is their summary. The studies that they have examined (and selected) were not all conducted within the last year, and many do examine long-term effects. If you click around the site you can find explanations for exactly how they (statistically) define "positive effect" across the board, as well as the specific research studies that were considered and included. Most of the research falls into the quantitative, rather than qualitative realm. Some examples of measures used in varying studies include standardized academic testing, school attendance and discipline data, teacher behavioral check-sheets, student reported data on attitudes and incidents of violent behavior.

All of which is to say that Mr Cornwall's claim that there is no evidence of positive effect from anything that is defined as Character Education doesn't hold up well when examined from a research perspective. This doesn't mean that there are not plenty of counter opinions, many of which you will find on his website.

it's not that i disagree with "character" ed to some extent... I do think certain programs (such as drug prevention and sex ed) are extremely important. however, like many debates, this is turning into one that has clashing data. in gov class we've been doing a debate about once a week and every time the disputes have roots in colashing data (ie, is poverty really going up or going down, and according to who?). reasons why i find data from WWC sketchy and not a great basis for an opinion on character ed:

first of all it's a government site... and the fact that the government hasn't scratched so much regressive legislation (NCLB.......) because of certain "evidence" makes me distrustful of their view on education. not to mention supporting certain facts means they can give money to corporations that "help" kids (yeah right) get into college, like the giant monster, the collegeboard.

also, you can't just label data as having a "positive effect" and not go into detail about it, at least SOME detail (wwc only mentioned objectives). There are so many correlations that can be made by your own eyes. like if SAT scores go up for a certain demographic, looks like you can assume an SAT program is working. But what if it turns out less people are taking the test? not a great example but you know what i mean.

let's say the data is sound (though that is a dangerous assumption for me to make, since i didnt have access to so many details of their projects) hard data may be a great fountain of support, but it just isn't enough. for example, why are so many incoming college freshmen needing remedial courses in math and english? is it because standardized testing has forced teachers to be unable to teach kids how to really have a logic process (which math is supposed to be about)? yeah, that's what data suggests. but you have to be in "the trenches" to know that a large part is that so obsessive is the mindset to get into college that kids have basically adopted a "shortcuts" mindset. They'll cheat, avoid spending time working instead of doing busywork (aka homework) in order to get the grade.

Character Education is being "taught" in sports! Hmmm. Well they are taught to be very aggresive in their "playtime". I can't believe out of all the EDUCATORS, who have made a comment concerning character EDUCATION,has not suggested or even corrilated sports as being a BIG part of the "EDUCATION FIELD". Well, I guess it has been left up to this UNEDUCATED (my fault at my age),poor white city country girl. I'm sorry, I am not trying to bash sports. I have a 10year,award winning,medals,plaques,trophey's,friends winning child myself. What I am suggesting is to move the sports to the communities IN ALL 50 STATES. Make the EDUCATION FIELD EQUAL.Make the sports fields equal as well. If more kids than not are playing or gathering communitiy wise to play sports than they would have a 2nd oppurtunity to gain a scholarship. It is the colleges who put out the scholarships, not the high schools. The kids who are not as fortunate as to have alot of money or good quality family lives would also not be shunned as fast by EDUCATORS.I am not trying to say bad things about teachers either. There are not many good pro sport role models left. It's time we teach EDUCATION AND BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR WHO YOU ARE IN LIFE AND WHO YOU WANT TO BE. Too many of our kids are on the streets and couches. They need to know, that they have a place in that community and that they are responsible to take care of that, for themselves and others around them who are trying. Character comes from the action of a person, it is a life experience that can not be taught. It is who you are as a person through their life experiences. And as far as kids not wanting or don't go to school, should be subjected to take care physically of the community. Just so long as they are productive in life somewhere. That is again, where that Character experience comes into play as far as the kid feeling good about his doings. That way, they are not just left on the streets or the couches. Obeseity is a very big problem with our children here in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.So is annorexia and balemia. Diebiedies is running rampid through very young people right now. Life is not simple. I do very much believe that sports are milking dry our EDUCATION MONIES. Even a little bit of it is too much. EVERY FAMILY PAYS THE EDUCATION SYSTEM FOR THEIRS CHILDREN'S EDUCATION, BUT THERE IS A PORTION OF EDUCATION MONIES,EDUCATION TIME, PRAISE, AND FAVORTISM THAT GOES STRAIGHT INTO THE 15 KIDS THAT ARE ON THE TEAM AS OPPOSED TO THE 3,000 WHO COULD NOT PARTICIPATE IN A PHYSICAL PROGRAM DUE TO GRADES, MONEY, AND ISHA RULES. Why should we as parents let the EDUCATION field and A PROGRAM WHO SUPPORTS VERY FEW COMPARED TO THE REST OF THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN DECIDE OUR CHILDRENS PHYSICAL ABILITIES THAT CAN BUILD CHARACTER WITH THE WHOLE COMMUNITY. We would know where more of these kids who need or look for guidance outside of their family or schools are at. PARENTS NEED TO BE THE PARENTS AND POSITIVE ROLE MODELS IN THIS FIELD. If we start now with the very young, then they won't miss what they never had, but at the same time, they would get more quality time and teaching and they could also build with the community. I think more parents ought to voluteer their children to the Elderly. They have so much wisdom that we are losing as they go. We need to try and salvage that in our children. They can learn to take care of themselves and others. Yes, there could be a hands on class. At a certain age, I think they ought to have to go to the elderly and take care, listen and learn from them. Mother Earth should definately be being utilized to best of their abilities. Well, first they have to be clued into the fact that it needs us as much as we need it to survive. There is so much to be learned of the Earth that there is not one reason why we couldn't put that sports monies into the NATURE KNOW HOW PROGRAM. With what is going on all around these children today, they need to be able to find that peaceful spot in this cold, cruel, crooked world. Right now EVERYTHING is wrong. These kids know that. THey are just biding their time. THANK YOU ....PULLING FOR ALL KIDS.

I agree that character education deserves far more attention than it currently receives, but I think it's critical to expand the goals of character education. At the Institute for Humane Education, we believe that building character should be integral to schooling, and that the very purpose of education must become learning how to live sustainably, humanely, and peaceably in the world. With this in mind, education must foster qualities such as integrity, kindness, compassion, perseverance, honesty, wisdom, and courage through a global perspective that explores how we can embody these qualities in relation to all people, other species, and the environment. When character education limits itself to relationships within school communities, it may lay the foundation for more distant relationships, but if these other relationships are not introduced and taught to students, students will remain ignorant of the myriad ways in which their lives impact others far removed from them.

In order to create a peaceful, restored, and humane world for all, students must know that their choices - from the foods they eat to the clothes they wear to the products they buy to the leaders they will elect to the careers and work they will choose - have profound effects on the entire world and all who share it. Humane education brings character education goals to the widest possible understanding of community and our relationship to the earth itself.

For more information on humane education, you can visit www.HumaneEducation.org.

Zoe Weil, President
Institute for Humane Education

Negative choices often build character. One can be “right” and “wrong” simultaneously. Our limited perspectives and judgments keep us focused “out there” instead of where the real growth occurs - inside. So many interesting shades of gray/grey to consider!

In character education, and in all of life, we are all students and teachers to each other.

Margo, 12th grader is correct about clashing data (and, btw, did a great analysis of the problems with WWC data - taking it deservedly to task). But in this case, I defined the type of study I would accept as data. And there is no indication at WWC of any peer-reviewed scientific study. At this late date, one has to ask why?

Correlations are not scientific as they are to open to contaminating factors. Even more fundamentally, the correlations attempted at WWC add up to apples and car tires. Because no one can define character, every program ends up with different targets of what is a "positive effect", each correlating to different and often conflicting outcomes.

Behavioral programs, like "anti-bullying" on the other hand are quantifiable and so can be shown to be effective because they have clearly defined measures that everyone can agree on. Moreover, the school can very clearly define who needs the intervention, so that the entire student body is incriminated and shot-gunned by it.

Really, that is the bottom-line for me. I object to anyone implying that my kids are deficient in character (not like they are in math or spelling - no argument there). You think my kids are deficient enough to require a program to improve them? Then you need to prove that allegation, test the deficiency before forcing them into a school-wide program to correct it.

Even then you would be a LONG way from justifying character education, because then you still need to demonstrate that your program improved character, not statistically at the school, but in my individual child and did it more effectively than a different program or no program at all.

Character Education is something that our school is concentrating on this year. The administrators have set up this whole program of "student of the Month" for our students. Each month the classroom teachers select one student in their classroom that has displayed postive characteristics. The specialist teachers then get together and decide on who will recieve it from each grade level. They have four to choose from because there are four classrooms at each grade level.
This sounds like a great idea because it gets everyone involved in the voting process but we have run into a few hiccups. The biggest issue is that the program is supposed to highlight different students every month but that is difficult when the same students get elected each time. The teachers get upset when their choice does not get picked so they keep nominating the same student.
Character education sounds like a great idea but it often times is something that can not be taught through lessons. It needs to be a lifelong system that people follow.

Character Education can work if it is implemented correctly into school buildings by the school leader. In my opinion, improvements need to be made with the implementation of character programs. As a school teacher, I do my part each school day to instill good character. It takes a great deal of practice, effort, and modeling on my part. I develop a classroom of trusting, honest, and caring individuals. We become a family in the classroom and everyone can count on one another. As far as the entire school, we have a character ed. program in which the teachers are to catch the kids when they are showing good character. The students receive a ticket and it gets drawn from a container and they can win a certificate and bracelet. I feel it's not a natural deed performed by the children because they are looking to earn the most tickets. I think the improvement for character education needs to come from the building administrator first and foremost. Receiving prizes shouldn't be a reason to show good character. It should come from the heart. Unless administration works to improve or take the time to make a school successful with their character programs, it will be up to each individual teacher and the building will run independently by each classroom. There won't be a uniform way of displaying character. Some kids will, some won't. It may come down to the teacher at times...... A definite are of concern for schools....character...

Character Education can work if it is implemented correctly into school buildings by the school leader. In my opinion, improvements need to be made with the implementation of character programs. As a school teacher, I do my part each school day to instill good character. It takes a great deal of practice, effort, and modeling on my part. I develop a classroom of trusting, honest, and caring individuals. We become a family in the classroom and everyone can count on one another. As far as the entire school, we have a character ed. program in which the teachers are to catch the kids when they are showing good character. The students receive a ticket and it gets drawn from a container and they can win a certificate and bracelet. I feel it's not a natural deed performed by the children because they are looking to earn the most tickets. I think the improvement for character education needs to come from the building administrator first and foremost. Receiving prizes shouldn't be a reason to show good character. It should come from the heart. Unless administration works to improve or take the time to make a school successful with their character programs, it will be up to each individual teacher and the building will run independently by each classroom. There won't be a uniform way of displaying character. Some kids will, some won't. It may come down to the teacher at times...... A definite are of concern for schools....character...

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Rich Napoli/ Teacher: Character Education can work if it is implemented correctly into read more
  • Rich Napoli/ Teacher: Character Education can work if it is implemented correctly into read more
  • Sara/PE teacher: Character Education is something that our school is concentrating on read more
  • Kevin Cornwall - CE Activist: Margo, 12th grader is correct about clashing data (and, btw, read more
  • Paul Burt, President of Pen & Publish, Inc.: Negative choices often build character. One can be “right” and read more




Technorati search

» Blogs that link here