Title: Character Education

Essay by tiptonballardUniversity, Master's November 2004

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There is a strong effort in public education to achieve high academic standards. With the election over, we are looking at another four years adjusting to the NCLB so this effort is going to grow even more. I firmly support current efforts to achieve high academic standards. Our focus on developing a sense of excellence in children would make no sense if we did not advocate aiming for excellence. Yet we must not neglect the other part of any successful education program, character based education. These duel aims of education do not merely operate alongside each other; they must unite together. Though public schools may have no business promoting specific values, they should promote in their students the capacity to develop values and become evaluators. Regaining virtue in our curriculum is as necessary as stressing academic standards if we hope to achieve the meaningful objectives of educational reform. If we only support efforts to establish measurable standards of performance throughout the curriculum, we risk losing sight of a primary objective in education, the production of intelligent, imaginative, and successful human beings.

How do we define character education? McBrian and Brandt (1997, p. 17-18) believe "character education involves teaching children about basic human values including honesty, kindness, generosity, courage, freedom, equality, and respect." Our goal is to raise children to become morally responsible, self-disciplined citizens. Problem solving, decision making, and conflict resolution are important parts of developing moral character.

National survey results reveal high levels of cheating, theft and cynicism among high school students. According to a just-released study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics based on a national survey of 24,763 high school students, nearly two-thirds (62%) cheated on exams and more than one in four (27%) stole from a store within the past 12 months. Additionally, 40% admit they...