Monthly Archives: November 2018

What is Character Education

Have you ever asked the question “what is character education” and wondered whether it is something that is important, or relevant to you? It can be described this way: “a deliberate and conscious effort to learn and develop virtues, and values, that are good for you and good for society.” So yes, it is important. And, it’s something to be aware of as you raise your children.

Most people agree that academic achievement is important. But character development is equally important, if not more so. Even if a child doesn’t do well academically, their character will still determine how well they do in life.

Throughout the world there are many values that are common to all cultures. These virtues include:

  • Upholding human dignity.
  • Helping to promote the well-being of an individual, as well as society.
  • Being clear to ourselves about our rights and obligations.
  • Treating people in the way you would wish to be treated.
  • Behaving in a way, in a given situation, in which you would wish all people to behave given the same set of circumstances.

In other words, character education is about learning and building any or all of the following traits:

  • Honesty
  • Initiative
  • Integrity
  • Optimism
  • Perseverance
  • Respect
  • Responsibility

When someone describes another person, they do so by describing their character. That person’s character is defined by a certain set of qualities, habits or attributes which they possess, and by which they are judged.

Children naturally want their days to be filled with happiness, fun, and playfulness. Unfortunately, not all children achieve these wants and grow up having negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves and the world.

The good news is that with the right training, these negative thoughts and beliefs can be changed and children can learn to develop positive beliefs about themselves. They can also start to experience feelings of optimism about their future and their life.

This type of education gives kids a chance to grow up into happy, well-adjusted, well-rounded adults. They will be able to deal with everyday situations in a positive manner which is beneficial to themselves and those around them.

Thinking About Character Education

There was a time when all children had at least one parent stay home every day so that the children could come home for lunch and have a parent be at home. Besides a parent there also may be one or two grandparents that also lived in the same house with them. It was not unusual to have two or three generations of a family live in the same home. When this happened the children had numerous people who could and would shape their thoughts and minds. These different sets of parents or grandparents would have a lot of input in how the child thought or acted. They would be taught responsibility in the home along with other values that would eventually build their character education.

Today there is often no parent at home and a child does not always come home from school for lunch but will spend an entire day in the school or the school yard. There may not even be a parent waiting for that child to come home form school. They used to be called latch key kids but unfortunately there are far too many that fall in this category to call them latch key kids. Today it may be almost all of the kids fall into this category. So there will not be someone to greet them nor is there a person who will continually help the child with character education at all. Then just who is assigned this task? It generally falls to a teacher at the school or perhaps a scout leader or even someone at a church if they attend one regularly.

Character education means just that, to develop character of a child so that they have the ability to distinguish right from wrong. So they can stay focused on their school work or other hobbies or tasks they may have to complete. This character development is necessary in today’s world just as it was twenty or thirty years ago. And if parents cannot provide it then the parents should be thinking about how their child is going to develop character.

Character implies so many positive words. It includes the words such as honesty and respect. Character requires courage and self discipline. When an adult goes to work they have to have integrity and so does a child as he or she gets older and enters the work force. But a child must have all of these things just to live a good life. If a child has been taught the rules of fairness then they may also have the courage of their convictions when faced with a dilemma or even some choices. Children are not born with these character traits but some children seem to acquire them faster than others. And a lot of this can be attributed to their living environment which includes their schools.

Teaching Character Education

Who is responsible for teaching character to our society in this day and age? And even more importantly, who is responsible for teaching character to our youth? Is it the household? Is it the media or our entertainment industry? Or is it our educational system?

It seems that for far too long, a child’s character education has been relegated to the confines of their household. Unfortunately, data shows us that parents are spending less and less time with their children these days. And as such, the odds that the small amount of time that parents are spending with their children is focused on conversations leading to the development of good character, are minimal.

Sadly, children are all too often left with either learning their character traits from their friends or from movies and TV. And the likelihood that they are learning any good character traits from these two sources, is indeed quite small. It is doubtful in today’s world of heightened violence and instant gratification, that children are being exposed to life benefiting character education to the degree that will produce the positive results that we seek for our nation as a whole. Positive results meaning a country that doesn’t come to the brink of economic collapse due to the acts of unscrupulous bankers, mortgage professionals, and politicians. Or positive results that leads to a society that doesn’t unethically invade a country on false pretenses, or torture its enemies of war. Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. And when and individual has character, we usually view them as having moral or ethical strength. Or better put, the strength to do what is right.

Character Education Meets Cell Phone

Character education is the second most important subject a school can teach. It must not be taught in a vacuum, however. Character education must be taught in the milieu of day-to-day school, social, and home life. It must be presented with practical applications. In other words, character education must meet cell phone use!

What do you think will happen when it does?

In an August 19, 2009 article entitled “More and More Teens on Cell Phones,” Amanda Lenhart, Senior Research Specialist, Pew Internet & American Life Project, wrote:

Teenagers have previously lagged behind adults in their ownership of cell phones, but several years of survey data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that those ages 12-17 are closing the gap in cell phone ownership… mobile phone use has climbed steadily among teens ages 12 to 17 – to 63% in fall of 2006 and to 71% in early 2008.

Character education recognizes those statistics and approaches the use of mobiles wisely. It does not storm into a teenager’s life and announce that all cell phone users lack high moral values (they don’t). It does not lecture loudly that mobile use should be regulated tightly so that teenagers cannot possibly abuse it (it shouldn’t).

Character education faces the fact that, like MP3 players, clothing, cars, or any other material item, these phones have acceptable uses. It admits that, when those acceptable uses are brought under the influence of high moral values, there is not a problem.

The question is this. When character education meets cell phone use, how will it impinge upon it? Of course, it will bring to bear all of the 66 moral traits, but let’s be more precise. Let’s look at six specific traits that moral training will teach and apply to this potential teen problem.

6 Traits that Affect Cell Phone Use

1. Attentiveness. Teenagers must recognize that just as they want others to focus undividedly on them when they speak, they should exercise this trait toward others. That means turning off mobile units at the family dinner table; in school; and in other settings where they could be disruptive. Character education must teach students to exercise attentiveness, even at personal sacrifice.

2. Contentment. Character education will help teenaged boys and girls develop awareness of what they have and who they are. It will help them accept their circumstances and persons, maintaining balance in thoughts, words, and deeds so that they no longer identify so closely with their cellular phones. It will help them be at ease even when they forget their mobile phones – a real source of trauma for many.

3. Cooperation. It has been found that teenagers are less willing to collaborate with others when they have access to cellular phones. Rather than work as a team with family, classmates, or co-workers, they retreat to mobiles. Character education teaches them the value of laying aside cellular phones and working with others to reach a specified goal for mutual benefit.

4. Respect. This quality is difficult for teens to build, and cell phone use often encourages disrespect instead. According to a national poll by market research group Synovate, about 72% of people in the U.S. agree that users’ worst cell phone habit is having loud conversations in public. Teens are among the largest group of those disrespectful, loud offenders. Character education helps them learn to value other people – to esteem highly the rights of others to a quiet, peaceful environment.

5. Responsibility. Another vital quality for teens, responsibility is often negatively impacted by cellular units. Teens who have a task or duty to accomplish spend time talking or texting on phones instead. The task or duty remains undone, or is done hastily and irresponsibly. Character education must help teenagers learn to set aside cellular phones until responsibilities such as homework are completed in every way and to the utmost of their abilities.

6. Self-control. Finally, character education will train teenagers to recognize impulses to use their phones in wrong ways, wrong places, or wrong times. It will teach them to restrain their use, taking power over self, and reining in phone use without being reminded by an adult.