Character Education

Aug 13

Character Education


Ever since Columbine, the need for creating a safe learning environment for children became clear.  As mass shootings at schools, churches, theaters and camps become ever more common, we feel an increased urgency to find a way to prevent these crimes.

Teaching kindness, tolerance and altruism has historically been left to religious and parental training in this country, but in light of  increased violence, many schools are stepping bravely into ground previously held by the traditional bastions of morality, churches and parents.  Whether you view this as an infringement of territory best left to churches and parents or not, character education is becoming one of the subjects taught in K-12 schools across the nation.  In my mind, it’s not an either/or choice.  If good character is taught and expected in all areas of a child’s life, all the better.  Here’s how California tackled this need:

California Education Code 233.5

(a) Each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship, and the meaning of equality and human dignity, including the promotion of harmonious relations, kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures, to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood, and to instruct them in manners and morals and the principles of a free government. (b) Each teacher is also encouraged to create and foster an environment that encourages pupils to realize their full potential and that is free from discriminatory attitudes, practices, events, or activities, in order to prevent acts of hate violence, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 233.

Currently, there are many commercial programs schools can follow, or they can create their own within these guidelines.  So again, here’s my Saturday Salon question for you:

If you were designing a character education program for an elementary or high school, and you were limited to 5 character traits to teach, what would they be?


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