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Moral and Character Education. William G. Huitt, Ph.D. Valdosta State University. Last revised: August 2000. Moral and Character Education. Three major issues in the education of young people today.

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Moral and Character Education


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    1. Moral and Character Education William G. Huitt, Ph.D. Valdosta State University Last revised: August 2000

    2. Moral and Character Education Three major issues in the education of young people today Identification of what is possible for both self and society; includes the discovery and/or defining of one's life mission and desired lifestyle Vision

    3. Moral and Character Education Three major issues in the education of young people today Development of the knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills necessary for success in a given society or culture Competence

    4. Moral and Character Education Three major issues in the education of young people today The moral quality and direction of one’s decisions and behavior Character

    5. “engaging in morally relevant conduct or words, or refraining from certain conduct or words” Wynne, E., & Walberg, H. (Eds.). (1984). Developing character: Transmitting knowledge. Posen, IL: ARL. Definitions of Character The following two definitions provide examples of a normative view of character:

    6. “a complex set of relatively persistent qualities of the individual person, and generally has a positive connotation when used in discussions of moral education” Pritchard, I. (1988). Character education: Research prospects and problems. American Journal of Education, 96(4), 469-495. Definitions of Character The following two definitions provide examples of a normative view of character:

    7. Importance of Character Scholarly debate on moral development and character formation extends to ancient times • Aristotle's Nichomacean Ethics • Socrates' Meno

    8. Importance of Character Major thinkers in Western Civilization have been concerned with moral and character development • John Locke, 17th century English philosopher • John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer, 19th century English philosophers • John Dewey, 20th century American philosopher and educator

    9. Educators -- competence in basic skills, feelings of self-worth, and moral development should be priorities in schools (Spears, 1973) Spears, H. (1973, September). Kappans ponder the goals of education. Phi Delta Kappan, 29-32. Importance of Character Both educators and American public believe character education should be an important part of schooling

    10. Public -- competence in basic skills and instruction in schools that would deal with morals and moral behavior (Gallup, 1980) Gallup, G. (1980, September). The twelfth annual Gallup Poll of public attitudes toward public schools. Phi Delta Kappan, 62, 39. Importance of Character Both educators and American public believe character education should be an important part of schooling

    11. However, competence and character are not mutually exclusive (Wynne & Walberg, 1985) Wynne, E., & Walberg, H. (1985). The complementary goals of character development and academic excellence. Educational Leadership, 43(4), 15-18. Character versus Competence Modern educators have placed more emphasis on competence than character

    12. Stallings (1978) found a positive impact of attempts to improve student achievement on independence, task persistence, cooperation, and question-asking Stallings, J. (1978). What teachers do does make a difference. In A. Newman (Ed.), In defense of the American public school. Berkeley, CA: McCutchan Character versus Competence Modern educators have placed more emphasis on competence than character

    13. Etzioni (1984) and Ginsburg and Hanson (1986) reported that students who were self-disciplined or more religious, hard working, or valued learning scored higher on achievement tests • Etzioni, A. (1984). Self-discipline, schools, and the business community. Washington, DC: National Chamber Foundation. • Ginsburg, A., & Hanson, S. (1986). Gaining ground: Values and high school success. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Education. Character versus Competence Modern educators have placed more emphasis on competence than character

    14. Kagan (1981) and Wynne and Walberg (1985) argue that good character ought to be the more primary focus as it is a goal in reach of more children than is high academic achievement and can result in less alienation from the school • Kagan, J. (1981). The moral function of the school. Daedalus, 110(3), 151-165. • Wynne, E., & Walberg, H. (1985). The complementary goals of character development and academic excellence. Educational Leadership, 43(4), 15-18. Character versus Competence Modern educators have placed more emphasis on competence than character

    15. National School Boards Association proposed a project designed to enhance character development • heighten national awareness • encourage establishment and improvement of character development programs in public schools National School Boards Association (1987) Building character in the public schools. Strategies for success. NSBA Leadership Reports, 1987-2. Alexandria, VA: Author. Character versus Competence Emphasis on Character Education has begun to change

    16. Georgia Department of Education has implemented program in values and character education Georgia Department of Education. (1997). Values and character education implementation guide. Atlanta, GA: Office of policy and communications. Character versus Competence Emphasis on Character Education has begun to change

    17. Impacting Moral & Character Development Four major questions need to be addressed when focusing on character development: 1. What is good character? 2. What causes or prevents good character? 3. How can good character be measured ? 4. How can good character best be developed?

    18. Know Value Commit Think Plan Personal Behave Social Components of Character

    19. Impacting Moral & Character Development 1. What is good character? Personal • honest and truthful • autonomous • responsible • self-management and self-discipline • courageous • integrity

    20. Impacting Moral & Character Development 1. What is good character? Social • sociable • benevolent • compassionate • courteous • trustworthy

    21. 1. heredity 2. early childhood experience 3. modeling by important adults & older youth 4. peer influence 5. general physical and social environment 6. communications media 7. content taught in the schools, churches, etc. 8. specific situations and roles Campbell, V., & Bond, R. (1982). Evaluation of a character education curriculum. In D. McClelland (ed.), Education for values. New York: Irvington Publishers. Impacting Moral & Character Development 2. What causes or prevents good character?

    22. Impacting Moral & Character Development 3. How can good character be measured ? • Cognitive knowledge • Age appropriate cognitive and moral development • Values expressed • Commitments expressed • Written plans • Personal and social overt behavior student discipline; student suicide rates; crimes; pregnancy rates of teenage girls; academic effort; prosocial activities

    23. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Effective communication and shared values among families, schools, religious organizations, and communities

    24. Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? 1. directed by adults who exercise their authority toward faculty and students in a firm, sensitive, and imaginative manner, and who are committed to both academics and pupil character development;

    25. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 2. staffed by dedicated faculty who make vigorous demands on pupils and each other; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    26. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 3. structured so that pupils are surrounded by a variety of opportunities for them to practice helping (prosocial) conduct; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    27. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 4. managed to provide pupils--both individually and collectively--with many forms of recognition for good conduct; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    28. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 5. oriented toward maintaining systems of symbols, slogans, ceremonies, and songs that heighten pupils' collective identities; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    29. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 6. dedicated to maintaining pupil discipline, via clear, widely disseminated discipline codes that are vigorously enforced and backed up with vital consequences; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    30. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 7. committed to academic instruction and assigned pupils significant homework and otherwise stressed appropriate academic rigor; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    31. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 8. sensitive to the need to develop collective pupil loyalties to particular classes, clubs, athletic groups, and other subentities in the school; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    32. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 9. sympathetic to the values of the external adult society, and perceive it as largely supportive and concerned with the problems of the young; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    33. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 10. always able to use more money to improve their programs, but rarely regard lack of money as an excuse for serious program deficiencies; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    34. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 11. open to enlisting the help, counsel, and support of parents and other external adults, but willing to propose important constructive changes in the face of (sometimes) ill-informed parent resistance; Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    35. Impacting Moral & Character Development 4. How can good character best be developed? Schools effectively impacting morals and character are: 12. disposed to define "good character" in relatively immediate and traditional terms. Wynne, E. (1989). Transmitting traditional values in contemporary schools. In L. Nucci,Moral development and character education: A dialogue (pp. 19-36). Berkeley, CA: McCutchan.

    36. Child Development Project Solomon, D., Schaps, E. Watson, M, & Battistich, V. (1992). Creating caring school and classroom communities for all student. In R. Villa, J. Thousand, W. Stainback, & S. Stainback. From restructuring for caring and effective education: An administrative guide to creating heterogeneous schools. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. Exemplary Programs 1. supportive adult-child relationships 2. exposure to societal values 3. peer interaction and prosocial action 4. think about and discuss moral issues 5. experiences that promote understanding of others

    37. Hyde school Gauld, J. (1993). Character first: The Hyde school difference. San Francisco: ICS Press. Exemplary Programs 1. Comprehensive curriculum for growth in four areas: (a) intellectual, (b) physical, (c) spiritual, and (d) emotional 2. Students expected to meet world class standards 3. Students have regular jobs and take responsibility for growth of other students 4. Students commit to continuous improvement towards excellence in all endeavors

    38. City Montessori School Cottom, C. (1996). A bold experiment in teaching values. Educational Leadership, 53(8), 54-58. Exemplary Programs 1. Four building blocks or pillars: universal values, excellence, global understanding, and service 2. Human being considered as endowed with spiritual capacities 3. Striving for excellence, especially academic excellence, is a focus 4. Council for Global Education is diffusing the program world wide

    39. Conclusion It is possible to develop a community consensus around a relatively small number of moral and character traits that can be the focus of a K-12 educational program. These must be integrated into a curriculum that enjoins young people to strive for excellence in the attainment of vision, character, and competencies.

    40. The End