What is Character Education?
Character Education is the deliberate effort to develop virtue – human excellence – as the foundation of a productive and ethical school community and a just and compassionate society. Character education takes intentional steps to cultivate moral and intellectual virtues through every phase of school life – the examples set by adults, the relationships among peers, the handling of discipline, the resolution of conflict, the content of the curriculum, the process of instruction, the rigor of academic standards, the environment of the school, the conduct of extracurricular activities, and the involvement of parents. Everything that happens in the life of the school is character education (Lickona, 2004).Virtues are objectively good human qualities. Diligence, wisdom, the pursuit of truth, justice, respect, responsibility, honesty, unselfishness, compassion, courage, patience, and perseverance always have been and always will be virtues, regardless of how many people practice them. Virtues are objectively good, and we are obliged to uphold them and practice then because:
- They affirm our human dignity.
- They promote the well-being and happiness of the individual person.
- They serve the common good, making it possible for us to live in a community.
- They define our rights and obligations as citizens.
- They meet the classical tests of reversibility (Would you want to be treated this way?) and universalizability (Would you want all persons to act this way?). (Lickona, 2004, p.7).
One of the necessities of any Character Education program is to have a scheduled time specifically devoted to character building activities. Oak Hall Middle School has an advisory period devoted to this purpose built into the daily schedule. Each month the students and teachers focus on one character virtue as they build character together as a community. They model, reflect upon, and support the practice of these virtues in every part of their daily school life.
Parents play a vital role in helping children develop into people of good character. Reinforcing the virtues that are introduced to your child at school will help them understand that these virtues apply in many different situations. Talk with your child about why the virtue is important to you and how it affects you in every day situations. Tell your child stories from your youth that involve the selected virtue and what you learned. Another conversation starter is to talk with your child about how the virtue is portrayed in the media. The evening news, the front page of the newspaper, or the latest movie review can provide many avenues for discussion. Taking the time to discuss different virtues with your child will help build their awareness, knowledge, and understanding of good character.
Lickona, T. (2004). Character Matters. New York, NY: Touchstone.
Manners - The OHS WAY!
Oak Hall Students…
- Arrive to class on time and are prepared.
- Listen to other people’s ideas.
- Raise their hand in class and wait to be called on before speaking.
- Say please, thank you, and excuse me.
- Offer to help their classmates and teachers in their work.
- Value other people’s space and property.
- Make positive comments about their peers – no gossip!
Oak Hall Students and Teachers…
- Respect the Honor Code.
- Say hello and shake hands when they meet.
- Hold the door for one another.
- Make eye contact when they speak.
- Smile at one another.
- Invite others to join their group.
- Participate and allow everyone to be heard.