One of the things I always liked about teaching is that each year brings a beginning and a closure. Most jobs don’t have that; days and years tend to run together, with varying projects, perhaps, but no ceremonial starts and stops. Of course, for education, the biggest ceremony of all is graduation.Read More
What's Happening in Character?
As a staff, we believe in practicing what you preach, and as such we often reflect on our own core values. When we drill down to the root of it, many of us come to find that it was indeed our family who instilled the values we've come to know, love and live by. Below, you'll find stories from some of the Character.org team and how our families influenced our character.Read More
The teaching of values sounds like something that should be done at home under the parents' discretion, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, not all parents are doing this. This may be due to a number of reasons, so who is to take on this essential job?
As teachers, if we focus solely on teaching academic content without a moral compass, what kind of citizens are we producing? Educated people that lack a strong moral foundation run the risk of applying their skills in ways that do not enhance the quality of our world. Even worse, they run the risk of using those skills to lead people in the wrong direction, and if one day they find themselves in a position of power, they may use it to make decisions that are destructive to our communities or world. If world leaders of the past held values that were deeply rooted from a young age, mankind would be in a better place for it. This is our chance to make a difference for the future of our world, to create a society of smart and good citizens, and it is imperative that we approach it the right way.Read More
Principle 1: Promotes Core Ethical and Performance Values as the foundation of good character.
“...the core values that underpin sustainable development - interdependence, empathy, equity, personal responsibility and intergenerational justice - are the only foundation upon which any viable vision of a better world can possibly be constructed.” -Jonathon PorrittRead More
by David B. Wangaard, Ed.D., The School for Ethical Education
Character.org has many resources that provide a clear definition of character education and effective practices. It is not unusual, however, to find varying interpretations by educators. Specifically, the distinction between moral and performance character has created a division within the field of character education. Some educators have chosen to focus singularly on performance character such as perseverance, creativity and positive attitude with the goal to market to parents these attributes as uniquely supporting student success. While those values may be well received by parents and the public, it is important to consider why we should include moral values and sustain the connection between moral and performance character.Read More
Principle 1, ““The school community promotes core ethical and performance values as the foundation for good character,” becomes a little bit more challenging when you apply it to an entire district. How can an entire district create an intentional and unified effort to promote core values?
We turn to 2015 National District of Character, Pennsbury School District for the answer. Pennsbury unites all 15 of its schools with character education and each school manages to bring its own unique flare.
Here is an excerpt from “Roaring and Soaring Pennsbury Sounds Off for Character,” by Eileen Dachnowicz, an article in the 2015 National Schools of Character Magazine.Read More
by Patrick Keenoy, Principal, 2015 National School of Character, Rogers Elementary
One is not simply a leader because of a title or position held, rather, a leader is one who demonstrates positive character through their words and actions. These words and actions, should motivate others to give their best effort and be people of integrity. There is a definite link between leadership and gratitude.Read More
by Becky Sipos
Which is better: honesty or integrity? empathy or compassion?
Of course, it’s a bogus question. Both are good. At first glance, principle one sounds easy “Choose your core values.” But there are so many good qualities out there, how do you choose? And how long do you stick with your choices? When should you change?
Over the years that I have been evaluating schools for our Schools of Character program, core values seem to follow trends. In 2007 most of the schools had some variation on these: respect, responsibility and honesty. But in recent years, schools have been including values such as empathy, compassion or kindness. Is that because of the times? The Great Kindness Challenge got over 2 million students to perform acts of kindness last year. Did it also influence schools to change their core values?
Do events in the news affect what schools choose? Smith Street School’s whole education program came about because of their environment. “The stakes are so high,” says Dr. Triplett, “Because of the realities outside of our school, many kids in our area are in danger ... good character is, in many cases, a matter of life and death to our kids. They have to make good choices in life -- and we want them and their parents to understand the connection. For this reason, we see these students as OUR children. CE is so, so much deeper here for that reason.” They chose “reflection” as one of their core values as they really want their students to think through their actions.
Schools seem to fit into three categories when it comes to selected core values.Read More
by Rebecca Bauer
During my freshman year of high school, my favorite teacher pulled me aside. She explained that she was assembling a committee to rewrite the school’s character expectations and she was hoping I would help. Having attended the Montclair Kimberley Academy since age 6, I’d been hearing about these expectations for nearly a decade.
Respectful. Responsible. Confident. Friendly. Informed. Temperate. Fair. Honest.
There were a lot of them. And still, I knew them well.
I remember attending that first meeting. There was one representative from each grade, which meant I was only freshman in the room. It was intimidating but exciting. We began by discussing what purpose the character expectations served. Why were we revising them? What were our goals?Read More
While there’s no particular order you need to address each of the 11 Principles, naturally, many schools start with principle 1, “The school promotes core ethical and performance values as the foundations of core values.”
When it comes to principle 1, the most valuable resources you have at your disposal are your stakeholders: administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents, community leaders…
However, there are some resources that can help you jumpstart the process, as well!
If you want to make the most of your most valuable resource, your stakeholders, first you need them to buy in. Need help convincing your staff, parents and larger community that character education isn’t just nice to have but absolutely necessary?
Show them “A Question of Character,” a short documentary from the Jubilee Center of Character & Virtues that demonstrates the need for character education and the impact it can make.
Looking to brainstorm core values before beginning your selection process? Take a look at the words Core Essential Values has chosen to highlight in their 2015-2016 Values Calendar. The Virtues Project is a great resource as well. Be sure to check out the comprehensive list of values complete with definitions.
There are so many core values to choose from, we couldn’t possibly name them all, but here are a few examples and some resources that can help you approach the topic.Read More
by Michele Borba
There’s something about the Thanksgiving season that tunes up my “reflective switch” and makes me think a bit more about our children. I worry that over the years we’ve removed ourselves a bit as a society from the real meaning of this glorious holiday. We’re seeing an upsurge–even in a recession–of kids who are a bit too spoiled, a bit too unappreciative, and a bit more ungrateful for all the good things life has to offer.
Don’t get me wrong, of course we want our kids to be happy and give them what they want. But have you noticed that sometimes our best intentions backfire? Instead of our kids being grateful for what they are given, they are disappointed or always seem to want “more.”
In all fairness, there are a number of factors that curtail our kids from being appreciative about the good things of life.
For starters: a relentless consumption-driven media that pushes kids to think they need more, and a fast-paced lifestyle that leaves little time to help kids count their blessings.Read More
Did you know that Random Acts of Kindness week is less than two weeks away? In order to provide you with the best resources, I turned to an expert. Marilyn Decalo, the Education Director at the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation explains how Random Acts of Kindness can transform your classroom, improve school climate and make the world a better place. She offers a variety of resources, including lesson plans, project ideas, videos, posters and graphics for you to use in your school.
“Beyond Accountability, Inspiring Greatness,” the theme of the CEP's 2014 National Forum on Character Education. As human beings, we all have sufferings: some of them are physical; some emotional; some are moral issues; and some are health problems. But no matter what our circumstances are, we can bring out our character and be as great of a person as Mr. Wrights is in this video titled “Inspiring Greatness.”
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.
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.
By Mark Hyatt, President & CEO
Before the summer slips away from us all, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment here to talk about the wonderful experience that occurred June 16-21 at CEP’s second Leaders of Character Camp (LoCC), hosted once again by my alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Many thanks to our individual sponsors and the SD Bechtel Foundation for making this camp possible.
Despite another unsettling Colorado summer clouded by the threat of continuing wildfires, 19 high school juniors and seniors from across the state were able to put their worries aside for a week and concentrate solely on improving themselves and each other. Led by five AFA cadets and four students from other colleges, the group took part in a range of classroom discussions and competitive outdoor activities designed to promote teamwork, trust, creativity,accountability and other core values.
“It’s a way to equip youth with habits of honorable character,” explained Maj. Dale Sanders, LoCC director and deputy director of the AFA Center for Character and Leadership Development. This year’s challenging group exercises included hiking, biking, rafting, geocashing and paintballing.
By Dave Keller, Director of Transformation & Strategic Initiatives
The moment last night was powerful and uplifting --- and well deserved.
In the history of Major League Baseball, no one has done what New
York Yankees’ relief pitcher Mariano Rivera has done. Simply put: He is the greatest closing relief pitcher ever.
But that’s not why I’m writing about him in a character blog.
Thank goodness my wife opened my eyes to the importance of empathy before I became a father and a school leader. To be honest, for the first half of my life, I was so driven to achieve the task at hand that I struggled to understand why some people just couldn’t show up, get to work and do what they had to do. By definition, “empathy” is accurately understanding what another person is feeling. If we understand the content of what the other person is saying, but cannot correctly identify the emotion that person is feeling, then we are not demonstrating empathy and we are not even aware of our deficiency.
By Joe Mazzola
Today is Flag Day-- at time to remember our nation's freedoms and core values. I try to do that regularly.
On Memorial Day, I attended a special ceremony at a small cemetery in the town that I now call home. It was one of the most touching ceremonies
I’ve ever attended. I felt like I had gone back in time to what I picture as “small town America.”
This blog was written from my perspective as a Personal Fitness Trainer and a lifelong exerciser. It provides very helpful and easy-to-understand tips on losing weight and getting into better shape. My goal is to help those who struggle in one or both areas. All of the information comes from a longer paper on the same subject which you can access through a link at the end of this posting. So, with this brief backdrop, I am pleased and honored to share the following information that I believe will help you achieve your health and fitness goals. More importantly, it will help improve your quality of life in countless ways. I’ll start with Diet and then shift to Exercise. Okay, the warm-up is over—let’s roll.
Diet—Tipping the Scales for Success
By Ed DeRoche
"If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.
" - Professor Daniel Goleman
Over the past month, we have had informal discussions at the Center about violence from bullying to bullets. Teachers and parents, given the events of the past few months, seem to be struggling to find ways and resources to help their children be more in touch with their feelings and concerns about what happens to themselves and others. Thus, I want to say a few words about empathy.
In Marvin Berkowitz’s Hot Topic discussion this afternoon, he didn’t hesitate to cut right to the point. “We need to make schools less like prisons,” he said. “When you think about it, it’s disconcerting how much the analogy fits. How can we create more enlightened and just schools?” Marvin’s talk focused on utilizing empowerment and democracy to accomplish this.
Topics: CEPLeaders, key lessons, character, character education, CEP2012, cheating, student voice, core values, what works in education, CEPForum10, character education in high school, Character Ed Infused in Curriculum
CEP asked the experts when it would be appropriate to reward children in our latest National Schools of Character publication.
Here's what David Hulac, Marvin Berkowitz, and Russ Sojourner had to say:
My last year as a classroom teacher, I finally got it! Making a list of rules, even if they were written in a positive way, was not the way to start the year off right.
At the kindergarten parent meeting, which was held the day before school started, I read the book Inch and Miles to the parents and guardians of my incoming kindergarteners. Inch and Miles is Coach John Wooden’s "Success Pyramid for Kids." I then asked the adults to describe what success in kindergarten would like for their child. Instead of talking about learning to read or to do math, they said things such as, their child would be excited to come to school (Enthusiasm), they would do their best work (Excellence) and they would play well with others (Cooperation).
On July 3rd, the eve of Independence Day, the White House hosted a meeting on citizen-based innovation. The main charge of the meeting was to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?” at a time when the country is struggling economically. Each panel and discussion focused on how we can leverage social innovation and the United States’ finest resource—“the people”—to be resilient and move forward, as a nation.
The gaping hole in the current debates about education is the failure to assess our ultimate goal. In “Waiting for Superman,” for example, the ultimate purpose of schooling — depicted almost farcically through cartoon images in the movie — is the better filling of each child’s head with information rather than the better cultivation of great critical and creative thinkers. As William Butler Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” Our current goal is anything but lighting a fire.
When I was growing up, I heard adults say: “Do as I say, not as I do.” After spending the last decade as a public school superintendent, it didn’t take me long to realize that the kids of this millennium don’t have much use for that approach. Instead, they prefer role models whom they can emulate in every way, every day -- folks who "walk the talk" and live their own message.
Parenting advice to curb irresponsibility, excuses and “blame games” and boost trustworthiness, accountability and kid responsibility
Any of these sound familiar?
“Take care of this for me.”
“It wasn’t my fault.”
“I did some of it, but I left it on the bus.”
“I don’t know where I put it.”
They are statements of irresponsible kids and part of a growing trend I call the “Big Brat Factor.” Kids with an irresponsible attitude rarely stop to consider how their actions affect others, and so their attitude is selfish. The world revolves around them, so someone else will—(and should in their minds)–do their jobs, wake them up, find their toys, and replace lost items they “misplaced.” If they do err, they usually never admit their mistakes, apologize, or take ownership. After all, “It’s someone else’s fault.” In fact, usually everyone but them is responsible for their irresponsibility.
If this attitude isn’t turned around, it will dramatically impact every area in our kids’ present and future lives: academic, moral, professional, emotional and social.
The replacement attitudes of responsibility, trustworthiness, and reliability are essential for our kids’ moral character and future well-being. So let’s get started!
June is a great time to evaluate the things that really matter in life. With school years ending across the country and the great weather kicking into high gear (already turning into overly hot, humid days here in Washington, DC), we all begin to take a look at the Class of 2011. Graduates at all levels are being recognized for their hard work and accomplishments as they embark down future paths that are at the same time invigorating and uncertain.
It is interesting, therefore, to study the words that are spoken on these historic occasions. What messages come across? What themes can we promote to future graduates? You will be hard pressed to find a graduation speech that extols the wisdom of achieving fame and wealth. Despite America’s ambitious and capitalistic nature, when it comes down to these defining moments in our lives, we stop to think about the qualities of life that really matter—things like being kind to others, respecting and valuing different opinions, being open to new experiences throughout your life—in general finding a way forward on the path to happiness.
Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. What is your school doing to honor the hard work of its teachers? While some schools stretch out their celebrations throughout the full length of Teacher Appreciation Week with breakfasts and other recognition activities, other schools seem to let the day pass without any acknowledgment of any kind. Just take a look at some of the comments here (May 1st post) and here (May 1st post).
If you could come up with your own way to acknowledge the hard work of all of our teachers, school leaders, and the faculty and staff as a whole, what would you do?
Here's one idea that was recognized as a 2010 Promising Practice.
Here's a community where commitment to character permeates everything they do. Four schools in the district have been recognized with National Schools of Character awards, and the school district was named a National District of Character. The mayor, city council, and Chamber of Commerce have also adopted the same core values, or expected behaviors, as the school district has. It truly makes for a community of character.
Last week my brother and sister completed RAGBRAI—the bicycle ride across Iowa. From the starting point in Sioux City to the end point in Dubuque, they rode 480 miles over the course of the week. They both came home tired but euphoric. They’d had a wonderful time.
My sister couldn’t stop talking about how friendly everyone was. “Iowa has to be the most hospitable state ever,” she said. At every stop, people from all walks of life offered their homes to the bicyclists (and there were a lot of them. One count on the first day reported 20,000). The bikers camped out in their yards, slept in their basements, and shared their family rooms.