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Character Education: Good Hearts Lead to Good Grades (page 2)

Character Education: Good Hearts Lead to Good Grades

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Updated on Jul 30, 2013

Why Is Character Education So Important Today?

If you look at the history of modern American education, you see a certain trend. “The No Child Left Behind Act has been around for ten years,” says Elias. “And for ten years we’ve focused on academics to the exclusion of nearly all else. When it hasn’t worked, our response has been to increase our focus on academics even more.” The nation has spent an extraordinary amount of money on improving the academics in the classroom, and teachers have been forced to teach content, content, and more content. In the minds of many character education supporters, it’s time for a change.

Disrespect, irresponsibility, and other character flaws are the bane of today’s society. Children absorb these character flaws as if through osmosis, purely by looking at those around them. In Elias’s opinion, this starts with political leaders and governments who act disrespectfully towards teachers, forcing them to conform to test prep that doesn’t help and negatively labeling the ones who are less successful with raising their students’ test scores. “Why should children respect people who are so publicly disrespected?” Elias asks. The answer? They don’t.

How Does Character Education Work?

If you’ve never seen character education at work before, you may wonder what it actually entails. In truth, it looks almost exactly like any other form of high-quality instruction. The teacher explains a concept to the class, they discuss how to apply the concept, and they use experiential learning – such as role playing or groupwork – to ensure that they understand what they have learned. But character education is not limited to actual instruction time.

Everyone needs to be onboard with this initiative in order for it to work. Kids are usually receptive to the idea, but teachers also need to agree to create a school climate that will enable the program to succeed. That means, for example, that teachers do not only preach respect, they also practice it – towards students and towards each other.

Child psychiatrist Dr. James P. Comer has said that character actually gets caught like a cold. Supporters of character education, as well as the research that stands behind them, maintain that their programs can help children to succeed not only in the classroom, but in life.

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