What is character education?Character education is the effort in education to foster virtues and traits that are beneficial to the individual and society as a whole. Charactered.net explains that "The objective goodness of virtues is based on the fact that they:
● Affirm our human dignity
● Promote the well-being and happiness of the individual
● Serve the common good
● Define our rights and obligations
● Meet the classical ethical tests of reversibility and universalizability"
The Character Education Partnership identified 11 principles of effective character education. They include:
1. Promoting core ethical and performance values as the foundation of good character.
2. Defining "character" comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and doing.
3. Using a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach to character development.
4. Creating a caring community.
5. Providing students with opportunities for moral action.
6. Offering a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners, develops their character, and helps them to succeed.
7. Fostering students' self-motivation.
8. Creating an ethical learning community that shares responsibility for character education and adheres to the same core values that guide the students.
9. Experiencing shared leadership and long-range support of the character education initiative.
10. Engaging families and community members as partners in the character-building effort.
11. Assessing its culture and climate, the functioning of its staff as character educators, and the extent to which its students manifest good character.
Charactered.net labels 11 of the most important traits for education to transmit:
Being accountable in word and deed. Having a sense of duty to fulfill tasks with reliability, dependability and commitment.
Pursuing worthy objectives with determination and patience while exhibiting fortitude when confronted with failure.
Showing understanding of others by treating them with kindness, compassion, generosity and a forgiving spirit.
Demonstrating hard work controlling your emotions, words, actions, impulses and desires. Giving your best in all situations.
Being law abiding and involved in service to school, community and country.
Telling the truth, admitting wrongdoing. Being trustworthy and acting with integrity.
Doing the right thing in face of difficulty and following your conscience instead of the crowd.
Practicing justice, equity and equality. Cooperating with one another. Recognizing the uniqueness and value of each individual within our diverse society.
Showing high regard for an authority, other people, self and country. Treating others as you would want to be treated. Understanding that all people have value as human beings.
A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values. Being honest, trustworthy and incorruptible.
A love for and loyalty to one's country.
This list is by no means comprehensive nor are all of these traits important in every context. Educators must decide for themselves and as a school which traits fit with the goals of the learning experience and work to ensure that they are promoting the transmission of the traits in the most effective way.
What are some ways to implement character education in my classroom?
There are many ways to implement character education into your classroom. www.goodcharacter.com suggests a few things to think about when utilizing this learning model:
● Model behavior: What you do as an educator models for you students how they should act. "Simply put, character education is everything you do that influences the character of the kids you teach."
● Enhance Curriculum: Use the curriculum you already have and emphasize the inherent character traits and values found within. This is a wonderful jumping off point for in-depth discussion with your students. For instance, if you are studying Bible, spend time discussing the character traits portrayed in the stories and the values that the stories teach.
● Promote relationships: This is done by organizing the school around the development of relationships with students, staff, and the community as a whole. One way to achieve this is to build collaboration among students rather than competition. Additionally, encourage the usage of the traits listed above, both in and out of classrooms in order to foster a caring community, where everyone is treated with kindness and respect.
● Solve Problems Together: Rather than focusing on rewards and punishments to manage the classroom, try solving problems together as a group. This includes holding class meetings to build unity rather than creating a teacher focused classroom.
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