The Need for Character Education in Public Schools Today

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The inadequacy of character education in society is evidenced in the behavior of youth today. This is obvious in the speech and actions of elementary age students as well as in the lack of respect and violence of teenagers. Character is a natural process of adaptation that is learned through education, experience and personal choices. Researchers have found that character is definitely not hereditary and has nothing to do with genetics, but rather with the upbringing and environment in which the child is raised. Moral learning occurs during the early formative years of life. During this time, most children are involved primarily with a family unit and with friends. On weekdays during the school year, nearly half of their waking hours are spent with teachers and peers in the educational system. The school environment therefore has a profound influence on shaping the way a child habitually behaves. To take it a step further, Gerald Grant claims that “much of what we have become as a nation is shaped in the schoolyard and the classroom” (195). This indicates far reaching effects of the character education of society’s youth. According to Ryan and Bolin, “Socrates long ago stated that the mission of education is to help people become both smart and good. In recent decades the second part of that definition has suffered in American schools and colleges” (19). There are moral precepts accepted by society as a whole and adults should have the courage to teach them. Morals refer to generally accepted customs of conduct and right living in a society, and to the individual’s practice in relation to these. Teddy Roosevelt reportedly said, “To educate a person in the mind but not the morals is to educate a menace to society” (Josephson,... ... middle of paper ... ...ness and to develop each aspect of the program as change becomes necessary. This need for character education is a challenging task for public education that is well worth the effort for the sake of our youth and for the future of our society. Works Cited Gauld, Laura and Malcolm. The Biggest Job We’ll Ever Have. New York: Scribner, 2002. Grant, Gerald. The World We Created at Hamilton High. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988. Josephson, Michael. “Character Education Is Back in Our Public Schools,” The State Education Standard, Autumn 2002: 40-45. Kilpatrick, William. Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right from Wrong. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. Lickona, Thomas. Educating for Character. New York: Bantam Books, 1991. Ryan, Kevin and Karen E. Bohlin. Building Character in Schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.

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