Education with Character: The Moral Economy of Schooling

Education with Character: The Moral Economy of Schooling

Education with Character: The Moral Economy of Schooling

Education with Character: The Moral Economy of Schooling

Synopsis

The establishment of citizenship education as a compulsory subject has recently been accompanied by the government's policy of 'promoting education with character.' Schools are identified as having a crucial role to play in helping to shape and reinforce basic character traits that will ultimately lead to a better society. This radical new policy is explicitly linked to raising academic standards and to the needs of the emerging new economy. This book provides an introduction to character education within the British context by exploring its meanings, understandings, and rationale, through the perspective of a number of academic disciplines. The author examines character education from a philosophical, religious, psychological, political, social and economic perspective to offer a more detailed understanding of character education and what it can offer. He also considers how British schools can implement character education successfully and what lessons we can draw from the American experience. This book will be of interest to academics, researchers, policy makers and teachers with responsibility for citizenship education in their schools.

Excerpt

My interest in character education extends back to my preparation for teaching and continues with my current role in the education of future teachers. However, it became more focused when I was involved as a member of the National Forum for Values in Education and the Community in 1996. As a participant in the discussions which led to the Statement of Values which the Forum issued in 1997, I grew increasingly interested in how character and citizenship education could provide schools with a 'new' way of thinking about moral education. In 1998 I was invited by Professor Amitai Etzioni to give an address to the fifth annual White House/Congressional Conference on Character Building in Washington DC. I found myself on the same platform as Nick Tate, the then director of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). It was clear then that Tate was also interested in character education, principally from a virtues perspective. On my return to Britain I participated in various consultations with QCA about spiritual and moral education, became a member of the History Task Group in 1999 to revise the History National Curriculum, and have since been a member of a sub-group of the Citizenship Working Party as well as a member of groups on citizenship in the Department for Education and Skills and the Teacher Training Agency. As a result of my involvement in policy development I had access to discussions and information that helped me in 2000 to write parts of Schools and Community: The Communitarian Agenda in Education (RoutledgeFalmer) in which I suggested that character education was part of the educational agenda of New Labour. It was therefore no surprise to me that in the following year the government published its Green and White Papers which detail how it seeks to promote 'education with character'. Of course, no one will say that they do not believe in education with character, but what educational meaning do they give this phrase? This book has been written as an introduction to this important development in educational policy and aims to explore the imprecise meanings often attributed to character education from different perspectives.

James Arthur

Canterbury, April 2002

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