Develop a personal statement and action plan for the conclusions you have come to as a result of reading the course text (Seider, 2012). There are two parts to this assignment.
Part 1: Professional Philosophy of Character Education
Reflecting on the various components of character education, identify the area of emphasis you personally believe is most important to you as an educator (whatever your role may be). Write a 2-page reflective paper that articulates your stance toward character in your professional life. Use appropriate citations to your course readings and concepts.
Part 2: Action Plan
Based on the idea(s) you identified in part 1 of this assignment, identify two steps you plan to take as a result of this philosophy. You can choose to focus on your role in the classroom, other educational settings or relationships, or your roles as a leader in other work organizations or a family context. Write a 2-page description of your intended actions and the outcomes you hope will result from these actions.
Support your statements with evidence from the Required Studies and your research. Cite and reference your sources in APA style.
According to Crittenden and Levine (2013), character comes from the Greek term, kharakter, which is an instrument used for engraving. “Thus character is what marks a person or persons as descriptive” (section 3.1, para 5). This provides a useful lens for considering how the various components of the character model provided in chapter 1 of Seider’s (2012) text can vary from individual to individual. Thinking of each component of the model as comprised of unique marks of a person gives us the space to consider what we share and what makes us unique.
Democratic participation is viewed as the hallmark of civic involvement and responsible citizenry (Crittenden & Levine, 2013). Much of the purpose of schooling, beginning in the early years, is to build an educated citizenry that can support society as competent, moral adults in all roles of life. The goal is to ensure that citizens have a community-minded lens rather than solely an approach to life focused on individual well-being (Crittenden & Levine, 2013). In terms of character education, civic character is viewed as the set of skills, attitudes, and knowledge to engage in civic roles in productive ways (Seider, 2012). Civic character strengths include, “civic and political knowledge, an ethic of participation and service, and the numerous social skills necessary to work productively with others for the common good” (Seider, 2012, p. 33).
Character Compass (Seider, 2012) looks at the role and experience of character education through a civic lens at Pacific Rim, a school focused on the merging of the Eastern and Western experiences. The teachers and students at this school are explicitly community focused and, as you will read, they identify the need to contribute to the community for the good of all, emphasizing a set of two Japanese concepts, kaizen and gambatte. You will learn more about how these two concepts bring the school’s focus on community and commitment to community to life in the character education classroom as you read this week’s Required Studies.
Crittenden, J., & Levine, P. (2013). Civic education. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/civic-education
Seider, S. (2012). Character compass: How powerful school culture can point students toward success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Character Education – Performance
Performance character is something people look for in employees, families, and society at large. Performance character is seen by many as the aspect of character education that puts the moral and civic dimensions of character into play (Character.org, n.d.). In other words, we need action to see character demonstrated by others.
How performance character is defined can impact our understanding of the potentially positive or negative outcomes of the focus on performance traits, though the traits themselves are not inherently positive or negative (Character.org, n.d.). As you read last week, performance character is defined as “the qualities such as effort, diligence, perseverance, a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, ingenuity, and self-discipline needed to realize one’s potential for excellence in academics, co-curricular activities, the workplace, or any other area of endeavor” (Lickona & Davidson, 2005, p. 18 as cited in Seider, 2012).
Traits such as perseverance can focus on qualities that result in a productive life for students. On the contrary, perseverance can also focus a student on the “wrong” thing for an extended period. As Dr. Sojourner (2012) described, “If moral character is developed without performance character, we get people with good hearts who can’t get the job done. And if we develop performance character without moral character, we get Bernie Madoff” (p. 14).
As you work through your assignments this week, consider how the performance character described at Roxbury Prep stands alone, as well as how it represents the focus on moral character through a particular lens. Does performance character stand on its own as a focus for character education in schools because it removes the moral values conversation that is often viewed as religious and provides a content that all can agree to work on regardless of personal faith, creed, or ethnicity?
Character.org. (n.d.). Performance values. Retrieved from https://character.org/key-topics/what-is-character-education/performance-values/
Seider, S. (2012). Character compass: How powerful school culture can point students towards success. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
Sojourner, R. (2012). The rebirth and retooling of character education in America. Retrieved from https://www.character.org/wp-content/uploads/Character-Education.pdf
Character Education – Where to Begin?
Welcome to Developing Character through the Curriculum. This course is designed to help you determine your stance on character education in learning contexts. You will also consider how you define the concept of character education and what the experience would look like in practice with teachers, students, and colleagues.
Character education is a concept that seems to ebb and flow in the school system and school curriculum. At some points, it was seen as the primary focus for learning and at other times, it has taken a back seat to standards and core content (e.g., math, reading). A brief look at the early history of moral education in the United States will set the stage to understand and reflect on the current trends that exist for students, schools, and teachers.
During colonial times, moral and religious development was the focus of common schools. The early American school system relied heavily on moral education as directed through the beliefs and efforts of Horace Mann (Watz, 2011). Mann believed students were lacking in moral reasoning and needed help developing these ideas in the context of schools, and that teachers would make this work come to fruition. The moral development of teachers and their quality and capacity as knowledgeable leaders was a primary concern of Mann (Watz, 2011). Mann believed that in order for teachers to impact students they “had to have strong knowledge of ethics as well as a predisposition to act upon those ethics inside the classroom on a daily basis” (Watz, 2011, p. 40). Designing and implementing moral education in the classroom was predicated on the understanding that teachers need to implement character education lessons explicitly and effectively, while recognizing that students would need time to practice and learn these lessons to apply them to everyday life (Watz, 2011).
Over time, a shift toward the school’s role in focusing on academic content knowledge pushed some (or in some cases, much) of the spotlight away from schools’ responsibility toward the character development of students. It is important to realize, however, regardless of the explicit attention paid to character education, the work of character development is always happening in schools. There are many current programs, organizations, and approaches for character education focused on different aspects, definitions, and desired outcomes. Your work during this course will give you the opportunity to explore how this impacts you in your educational role.
Your exploration of character development will look closely at the work happening in three secondary schools in the Boston area. This mixed methods case study approach allows you to focus on the work being done to build different aspects of character and to see the impact of how character is defined on outcomes for students.
Begin this course by reviewing the syllabus and the content of all five weeks to see the big picture for the course and the expectations for your learning.
Watz, M. (2011). An historical analysis of character education. Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education, 4(2), 34-53.
The following materials are Required Studies for this week. Complete these studies at the beginning of the week, and save these materials for future use.
Character Compass: How Powerful School Culture Can Point Students Toward Success (Seider, 2012)
Chapter 6: Make a Contribution
Chapter 7: Be the Change
Chapter 8: Building Powerful School Culture Through Character
What Motivates Youth Civic Involvement? (Ballard, 2014) [PDF]
What is the Relationship between Civic Education and Character Education? (School Improvement in Maryland, n.d.) [Webpage]