Character education is an umbrella term loosely used to describe the teaching of children in a manner forms of moral education of children will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant or socially acceptable beings. Today, there are dozens of character education programs in, and vying for adoption by, schools and businesses. Some are commercial, some non-profit and many are uniquely devised by states, districts and schools, themselves.
A common approach of these programs is to provide a list of principles, pillars, values or virtues, which are memorized or around which themed activities are planned. History of character education in U. Character” is one of those overarching concepts that is the subject of disciplines from philosophy to theology, from psychology to sociology—with many competing and conflicting theories. Character as it relates to character education most often refers to how ‘good’ a person is.
In other words, a person who exhibits personal qualities like those a society considers desirable might be considered to have good character—and developing such personal qualities is often seen as a purpose of education. However, the various proponents of character education are far from agreement as to what “good” is, or what qualities are desirable. The various terms in the lists of values that character education programs propose—even those few found in common among some programs—suffer from vague definitions. This makes the need and effectiveness of character education problematic to measure. There is no common practice in schools in relation to the formation of pupils’ character or values education. This is partly due to the many competing programs and the lack of standards in character education, but also because of how and by whom the programs are executed.
Programs are generally of four varieties: cheerleading, praise and reward, define and drill, and forced formality. They may be used alone or in combination. Praise-and-reward approach seeks to make virtue into habit using “positive reinforcement”. Elements include “catching students being good” and praising them or giving them chits that can be exchanged for privileges or prizes. In this approach, all too often, the real significance of the students’ actions is lost, as the reward or award becomes the primary focus. Define-and-drill calls on students to memorize a list of values and the definition of each.
Students’ simple memorization of definitions seems to be equated with their development of the far more complex capacity for making moral decisions. These four approaches aim for quick behavioral results, rather than helping students better understand and commit to the values that are core to our society, or helping them develop the skills for putting those values into action in life’s complex situations. Generally, the most common practitioners of character education in the United States are school counselors, although there is a growing tendency to include other professionals in schools and the wider community. It has been said that, “character education is as old as education itself”.