Character Education: A Book Guide for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents

Character Education: A Book Guide for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents

Character Education: A Book Guide for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents

Character Education: A Book Guide for Teachers, Librarians, and Parents

Excerpt

[Out of our beliefs are born deeds; out of our deeds we form habits; out of our habits grows our character; and on our character we build our destiny.]

—Henry Hancock, Dean, St. Mark's Cathedral,
Minneapolis, MN

The Importance of Character Education

In recent years there has been a return to [character education]—discussions of values and appropriate behavior—in our nation's classrooms. This trend stems from many publicized incidents of serious violence. The question of who would take responsibility for the changing character of our society turned public attention toward the issue of building desirable traits in citizens—traits that would help youngsters develop as responsible citizens. Many school districts and institutions created a list of desired traits, each with their own terminology and definition. This has resulted in a confusing situation at best. Do we wish to build persistence or perseverance? Or are the two traits really so similar that distinguishing them is virtually impossible?

[Character consists of what you do on the
third and fourth tries.]

—James A. Michener

Are we talking about integrity or honoring justice? Where does honesty fit in? How is developing problem-solving skills different from developing thinking skills? Or is it creativity? Can we consider the pursuit of happiness a character trait? Or is the pursuit of happiness an outgrowth of the trait of having a positive attitude? Do we want to instill a sense of teamwork or cooperation skills? How is exhibiting friendship different from showing loyalty?

Widely distributed lists specify numerous desired traits, many of which overlap or are even synonymous. But one thing is clear: Character education has become a national priority in our schools and with the general public.

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