Why Character Education is Inherently Flawed
November 26, 2013
Here is an excerpt:
In pursuit of character education, our schools have convened research groups to identify the most important character strengths, taught special courses on character alongside electives such as music and art, and assembled “character report cards” with separate ratings from each teacher for each trait. The favored buzzwords are “dual-purpose instruction,” infusing ordinary lessons about fractions or paying attention with the language of character. “Make it the air we breathe,” one administrator told us. “Put it into everything.” When kids misbehave, we urge them to show more character; students who do well win character awards at special assemblies; we start giving points for integrity, and then integrity starts to mean following directions, and then we start taking integrity points away. Instead of teaching these strong and simple values, we muddy and diminish them until they are just another set of arbitrary rules, or new names for the same old rules we’ve always had. Character starts to look a little more like compliance. The lapse in integrity is our own.
For my part, I’ve given up on character education as such, on pre-planned lessons pushing abstract nouns. I won’t set out to repair some deficit in my kids that can be blamed for the trouble they encounter. Nor do I favor reframing our everyday conversations to match the jargon of the day.
The entire article is here.