After reviewing all of the materials for the course, I am convinced that character education is something that must have a presence in schools. Students of all grade levels can benefit from learning how to become civilized members of society. I agree with Lickona (1992) as far as the family being the first and foremost teacher of morals. As adults, we continue to reflect on our morals and virtues with hope of continually improving ourselves, especially when we become parents.
I as well as many other new parents ran out to get a parenting manual to assist me in raising my children the best I could. Character education should be incorporated into the lessons daily in context. As the School Family video showed us, it should not be done through bribing, rewarding and punishing students without a lesson involved. After the school adopted the Conscious Discipline program, it appears that they have students use their words to talk out their issues with one another.
I feel this has a better impact on the students in the long run. They will be better able to handle conflict in the future because of the lessons their teachers have helped them to understand. Kohn (1997) explained the side of character education with which most teachers are familiar. He explains, much like the Fern Creek video states, that students are most frequently drilled and rewarded through the character education programs. I do not necessarily agree that the values should be taught out of context.
As a language teacher, I can tell you first hand that rote memorization does not show understanding of a concept. In addition, any person who has raised a preschooler can tell you that one of the first questions a child asks is “Why? ” Children do not learn from simply being corrected or told what to do. They learn when they can explain why something is the way it is. Good character is completely developed by knowing ones morals and wanting to abide by the virtues by which we all live.
If more parents were sensitive to the information that Lickona discussed in the Raising Good Children video, schools would have an easier time with character education. I agree that parents and schools need to form a partnership. Parents typically do not line their children up and drill right or wrong. They teach their children virtues in context. If my son steals his brother’s toys and a fight breaks out, I am not likely to say “that’s not right! ” and end the conversation there. Young children are more likely to stop the bad behavior if they know why it was wrong or hurtful.
I would explain to my son, “It hurts your brother’s feelings when you take his toys. Do you like your feelings hurt? Please ask him next time. ” Incorporating the “do unto others” ideal does not make an impact unless the child can relate directly to the situation. I have noticed the times I had forgotten the explanation of why to stop; my son would repeat the misbehavior a short time later. Many of the virtues I have learned have come from my mother and my grandmother, since they were around me the most as a child.
Through gentle reminders from these women I learned a set of standards to live by, my virtues. By knowing this information and using the good moral judgment that my family taught me, I have developed my character. Some children come to our classrooms without the opportunity to learn the way I did. Therefore, I need to be sensitive to their needs and help them to focus on how to change their behaviors. By treating students fairly and with compassion on a consistent basis, hopefully I can encourage students to intrinsically want to have good character.
Courtney from Study Moose
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