Character Education

According to the Oxford Dictionary, character is defined as “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” As important as academics and the arts are to school curriculum, isn’t building strong character just as valuable?

If a child is receiving straight A’s, but has no idea how to behave in a social setting, what good is it? If a student can’t bounce back from failure, how will he or she succeed? If a child doesn’t know how to show kindness to those who are suffering, how will he or she be contributing members of society? Being book smart doesn’t necessarily equate to success.

I have seen many cases where bright children are hindered by their own negativity, pessimism, anti-social behavior, and low self-esteem.

I believe character education should be a part of everyday school curriculum since there are many children who are not taught traits such as empathy, integrity, resilience, and optimism at home.

I understand that not all children are equipped to be successful in these areas, but the same thing goes for any class. Not all children can be proficient in different courses like math, social studies, foreign languages, etc.  However, that doesn’t mean we don’t teach it.

Character education should not only be confined to elementary school. There is great value in continuing it through middle school and high school, when bullying and depression are statistically high.

The following TEDx Talk speaks to the importance of character.  Watch it here:  Teaching Character – The Other Half

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a teacher of almost two decades, I know that we have enough on our plates. However, there are so many free resources out there that it doesn’t require much time to implement these lessons in the classroom. Schools should be discussing where these lessons should take place – perhaps spread them around by quarter to different teachers to lighten the load.

Why re-invent the wheel? Here’s just a TINY list of free resources I found on the internet and can be used for all different age levels:

Character Lab

Let It Ripple

Learning to Give

Character Education Activities

Think Kindness

How do you feel about character education? Do you think this is something that should be mandatory in schools?

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