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What's Happening in Character Education?

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Performance Character and How to Foster It

describe the image
“It takes real character to keep working as hard or even harder once you’re there. When you read about an athlete or team that wins over and over and over, remind yourself, ‘More than ability, they have character.' ” ― John Wooden, quoted in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

What is performance character?

Performance character is a set of dispositions that drive effectiveness, such as striving to learn and improve, having self-discipline, and persevering. It is made up of beliefs and behaviors that enable people to grow their capabilities and meet their goals in any area of life, be it school, sports, relationships, or work. It is different than moral character, which refers to moral qualities such as kindness, integrity, and respect.

Can Educators Actually Assess a Student’s Character?

Peter Greer


From my work as a superintendent, a headmaster and as the the U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Education, I found that assessing our students’ character was overlooked much of the time. Yet, there are such strong reasons to assess students’ character in a more formal way, such as establishing consistent standards, students having knowledge of progress, teachers having knowledge of effect. The most important reason, though, is that the formation of good character plays a major role in each student’s destiny.

Olympic Illusions: Is Character One of Them?

Hannah Kearn

Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
(‘Fundamental Principles of Olympism’, IOC, Olympic Charter, Sept. 9, 2013)

THERE IS SOMETHING VERY STRANGE about coming in from shoveling real snow outside my home to watch the world’s best winter athletes slip and slide on manufactured snow in Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Olympic Games. But snow is hardly the only part of the $51-billion Olympic spectacle that seems synthetic.

Teaching animal appreciation: a pathway to character


by Zoe Weil

President, Institute for Humane Education

What should character education teach students about kindness to animals?

At first, the answer to this question might seem obvious: people of good character treat nonhuman animals with respect and consideration; therefore, we should educate students to be compassionate and responsible citizens in relation to other species. Role models for good character, such as Albert Schweitzer and Mahatma Gandhi, articulate clear responsibilities toward animals. Gandhi went so far as to say, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” 

But it’s not that simple.

How to Become a Socially Inclusive School


By Dr. Maurice Elias, Director

Social-Emotional Learning Lab, Rutgers University

IN ITS COMPREHENSIVE CASE STUDY OF SOCIALLY INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS, Special Olympics' Project UNIFY (3) identified the common factors across schools that had created a bridge from social inclusion programs to a genuinely positive school climate. The case study findings are here (4), and I'm also going to share with you key lessons learned that reflect my own work in fostering inclusive settings.

H.O.P.E. - Souls, Minds and Hearts, All Beating as One

describe the imageConference By Maricarmen Esper, author, speaker, character educator

As we all agree, character education is the main and essential part of education around the world. If we want a world with high ethics, virtues and peace, then governments, schools, families and communities all must promote, educate, evaluate, and try so hard to work for it.

How Are Social-Emotional Learning and the Common Core Connected?

Maurice Elias

By Maurice Elias, Professor, Rutgers University Psychology Department

In September, 2013, the Education Advisory Council of the Character Education Partnership published a white paper titled, "Integrating Common Core and Character Education: Why It Is Essential and How It Can Be Done." Kristin Fink and Karen Geller, acclaimed educators both, co-chaired the process and I asked them to comment on some of the key points:

Maurice Elias: In your view, what is the major shortcoming of the Common Core standards as they are presently being put forward?

Karen Fink: The standards do not explicitly address the quality of the learning environment or the culture of respect, responsibility, and excellence that must be in place for optimal student learning. Every student needs to feel that the school has a deep commitment to preserving his or her safety, worth and dignity. The school community must have as a standard genuine, caring relationships between and among students, teachers, parents, and staff. The standards also lack a specific focus on teaching moral and performance character, and the social-emotional skills that help students develop the stamina and self-discipline to grapple with more rigorous curriculum to truly become college, career, and civic ready.


Mark Hyatt

Dear CEP Friends,

My many thanks to all of you. Yes, it is gratitude that overwhelms me this week as I step down as CEP President and CEO.
I accepted this position two years ago with the blessing of CEP founder Sandy McDonnell, who sadly passed away less than 80 days after I took office. Every minute since has been an honor and a privilege for me here to carry on Sandy's torch and to devote myself to advancing his defining life mission for this organization: to provide the vision, leadership and resources for schools, families and communities to develop ethical citizens committed to building a more just and caring world.

What is Character Education?

Rebecca Bauer

Fourth in a series by student teacher Rebecca Bauer who graduated from a National School of Character and wants to make sure that as a teacher she includes character education.

After completing my student teaching, I find myself asking the question that I probably should have started with. What is Character Education and what does it mean to have a Character Education program? Some of the confusion about character education seems to be due to the presence of many different names for the same practices. I have encountered many professors who have never heard of character education but strongly encourage teaching with “a culture of care,” without understanding the enormous overlap. I have met teachers who implement the Responsive Classroom approach, without knowing that in the process, they, too, are incorporating some of the elements of character education. Schools can always teach more character education and there is always more work to be done, but one way to convince people that character education is worth teaching, is by showing them they are already teaching it.

The Character of George Bailey

Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey

Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” is often dismissed as just another sentimental, feel-good Christmas classic. But, in my opinion, it contains one of the most gripping and compelling dramatic scenes ever captured on film.

As Christmas Eve revelers drink and laugh in a crowded tavern filled with festive music, the camera slowly zooms in on a desperate man at the bar, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart). He is an extraordinarily good man, but at this dark moment, he is facing ruin, scandal and jail, none of it deserved. Talking to himself and staring down at his drink, he whispers to himself, “Dear Father in Heaven, I’m not a praying man. But if you’re up there and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God.”

This harrowing close-up comes two thirds through this 1946 film that is still so familiar to so many of us. Indeed, some might say too familiar. Indeed, so many of us have watched this movie over the years—or passed on multiple opportunities to do so—that more than a few now roll their eyes at the prospect of committing two-plus hours to a syrupy, 67-year- old, black-&-white parable.

But if you’ve never seen "It’s a Wonderful Life," or have not watched it again since you started caring about character education, then let me suggest that you set aside the time to do so this year.

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