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Teaching Character

Updated on June 3, 2014

Teaching Character Education

This lens is about character, and why it is as important as ever for our youth to be instructed on it. The lens will cover details regarding how teachers can go about teaching character, and will ultimately end, by providing a few good resources that can help teachers in their quest to teach character.

So if you are interested in character education and want to know find out more about it please read on.

Intelligence + Character

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Marting Luther King Jr.



1. the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

2. one such feature or trait; characteristic.

3. moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character.

4. qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity: It takes character to face up to a bully.

5. reputation: a stain on one's character.

[C14: from Latin: distinguishing mark, from Greek kharaktēr engraver's tool, from kharassein to engrave, stamp] v

Who is responsible for teaching character to our society in this day and age? And even more importantly, who is responsible for teaching character to our youth? Is it the household? Is it the media or our entertainment industry? Or is it our educational system?

It seems that for far too long, a child's character education has been relegated to the confines of their household. Unfortunately, data shows us that parents are spending less and less time with their children these days. And as such, the odds that the small amount of time that parents are spending with their children is focused on conversations leading to the development of good character, are minimal.

Sadly, children are all too often left with either learning their character traits from their friends or from movies and TV. And the likelihood that they are learning any good character traits from these two sources, is indeed quite small. It is doubtful in today's world of heightened violence and instant gratification, that children are being exposed to life benefiting character education to the degree that will produce the positive results that we seek for our nation as a whole. Positive results meaning a country that doesn't come to the brink of economic collapse due to the acts of unscrupulous bankers, mortgage professionals, and politicians. Or positive results that leads to a society that doesn't unethically invade a country on false pretenses, or torture its enemies of war. Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. And when and individual has character, we usually view them as having moral or ethical strength. Or better put, the strength to do what is right.

Therefore, if we as a society don't educate our young people on the traits of good character, or why good character is important, how can we expect that they put any value in them, or that they express those good character traits, as they become adults? It is time for us to start consciously deciding to improve our society. The best way to do this, it for us to begin formally teaching our students character at school. However, in the current education system, character building is not focused on for any core standards. Therefore, we must encourage the adoption of character education, to help students understand why it is important to have good character, and then help them to build it. This way we can all start planning for and actually expecting a more positive and more productive future as a society.

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What is character education?

According to the book, finding Common Ground, "Character education is a national movement creating schools that foster ethical, responsible, and caring young people by modeling and teaching good character through emphasis on universal values that we all share. It is the intentional, proactive effort by schools, districts and states to instill in their students important core ethical values such as caring, honesty, fairness, responsibility and respect for self and others. Character education is not a "quick fix." It provides long-term solutions that address moral, ethical and academic issues of growing concern to our society and key to the safety of our schools" (Haynes & Thomas, 2007, pg. 151).


Haynes, C & Thomas, O. (2007). Finding Common Ground.

Nashville, TN: First Amendment Center

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Character Education Resources

For Teaching Character Education

To learn about the U.S Department of Education's stance on Character Education and teaching character in our class rooms, be sure to take a look at the following page titled: Our Shared Responsibility. It's an excellent resource. To access it Click Here.

To learn about 100 ways that you can promote Character Eduation in our schools be sure to take a look at Boston University's 100 Ways to Promote Character Education in Schools. It is also a terrific list with some nice gems of insight. To access this resource, Click Here.

Please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion.

Thanks for Stopping by the Teaching Character Education Page

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    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Such an important topic!