Good children must,
Fear God all day, Love Christ always,
Parents obey, In secret pray,
No false thing say, Mind little play,
By no sin stray, Make no delay,
In doing good.
Recently, character education has been trending because of the federal and state mandated anti bullying laws. In 2001, President Bush along with Congress gave 50 million dollars a year in federal funding for his program on Character Education.
President Bush pushed “to dramatically increase federal funding for character education. His motivation, of course, is not to replicate schools like mine but rather to placate social conservatives skeptical of the rest of his education plan, and, less cynically, to help schools navigate this new world of Columbine, Conyers, Jonesboro and Santee, where kids seem crueler and more prone to violence than ever before. Just this week three girls from Boonville, California — two 8 year-olds and one 9 year-old — were charged with attempted murder for allegedly sneaking pellets of gopher poison into the lunch sandwich of a classmate. They said they did it simply because they didn't like the victim” (Goldstein, A., 2001)
Does Character Education belong in the classroom? It is inevitable that in school children will learn moral lessons about how people behave, whether by design or chance; is it possible to educate children without teaching character? Can we teach children to “be good”?
Character Education is an extremely hot topic today in the educational field. Many questions arise from this topic. Do we have time in our curriculum to teach character education? Is it our place as educators to take on the role of the parents? Many parents feel that character education has no place in the classroom. Teaching character and/or values is the role of the parent not the teacher. www.spectator.co.uk Whereas, other theorists believe that it is impossible to teach character. Theorists such as Judith Rich Harris, Kevin and John Paul Wright believe, “that nature not nurture is the main determinate of character” (Harris, Judith, 2009). Their research boils down to character traits are inherited not taught. This opposition to character education is using this research that teaching character education is the job of the parent therefore should be left outside of the classroom. Those opposed believe there is valuable curriculum that needs to be instructed. Character Education in their point of view is a waste of the taxpayers’ money and students’ time in fulfilling a new passing trend.
According to the ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), a decade of work has been established to support character education. Although the ASCD do have some concerns regarding the content and quality of character education. The concerns and questions are based on the quality, the control of the values being taught, and how federal, state, and local government mandates influence character education. http://www.ascd.org/about-ascd.aspx
Remarkably, the concern is not whether Character Education should be in existence in schools or which positive traits should be emphasized. Rather, the problem lies in how these characteristics should be implemented into schools. Should character be taught separately or woven into the curriculum? Should the program be based on teaching traditional values and characteristics of good character or should it be processes of helping students recognize their own values?
Advocates in favor of Character Education
Despite its problems and drawbacks, character education does have enough positive aspects to balance out its challenges. Beyond learning important values such as responsibility, respect, and honesty, character education teaches students how to be moral citizens in the everyday aspects of life.
Accepting individual differences, showing courage, developing citizenship, taking responsibility for oneself, and making positive choices are all part of student learning, whether intentional or coincidental. Character education takes these qualities a step further merely by recognizing them and helping students implement them in their everyday lives. All it takes is a minute or two to shift teaching to emphasize the themes of character during a lesson. The students already understand the concepts, in recognizing these themes of character, the students will catch on that character and morals are important parts of education as well.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.” (1974). More than just growing academically, we want students to grow morally into people of good character. It has been proven that misbehavior occurs less frequently and students begin to hold themselves accountable to the high standards character education sets for them (Singh, 2001, p.46).
When selecting the right character education it is important to keep in mind that it should be taught at an early age and interwoven into the curriculum and technology students in which have access.
Creating responsible digital citizens in a frenetic world of technology it is crucial that children have explicit character education. “Students must learn that online behavior has off-line consequences”(#flattclass). According to Davis and Lindsay, students need to learn sustainable global communication practices. These skills include Interpersonal skills which is the ability to relate person to person through collaboration. Intrapersonal skills which are self-talk, this is an important part of communication. Techno personal skills are the use of social skills in using technology. The authors discuss the need for trustworthiness, motivation, collaboration, stability, and responsibility in order for students to be successful digital citizens of the 21st century. If we do not teach character education starting at an early age, how will these students bring these character traits to the classroom?
Here are some helpful resources for bringing character education into your classroom.
Character Counts: https://characterlab.org/
Character lab: https://characterlab.org/
References Berreth, D., & Ernst, D. (2015). Character Education: A common Goal. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
Davis, V., & Lindsay, J. (2013). Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time (Pearson Resources for 21st Century Learning) 1st Edition. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
Goldstein, A. (2001, July 6). The Pros and Cons of the Bush Character Education Plan. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
Harris, J. (2009). The Nature and The Nurture of the Evidence. In The nurture assumption: Why children turn out the way they do (Revised and updated edition, Free Press trade paperback ed., pp. 13-30). New York, New York: Free Press.
THE NEW ENGLAND PRIMER. (1777). Retrieved July 28, 2015.
The Character Education Partnership. CEP: The character partnership. . Retrieved July 25, 2015
from www.character .org.
Singh, G. (2001). How character education helps students grow. Educational Leadership. 59(2),
Young, T. (2008, November 8). Why can't schools teach character ? Retrieved July 28, 2015.