Teaching Children to Do Their Best and Be Their Best - An Expanded Approach to Character Education

Dec 11, 2012, 11:25 ET from The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation

McGraw-Hill Research Foundation Policy Paper Details Why School-Based Character Education Is Needed

NEW YORK, Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. educators should look for new ways to promote student character education in schools because the development of good citizenship is as critical to children and society as academic achievement, says a new McGraw-Hill Research Foundation white paper released in collaboration with the Character Education Partnership (CEP).

"The Rebirth and Retooling of Character Education in America," written by Russell J. Sojourner, Ph.D., director of Leadership Development at CEP, explains how a re-energized and innovative approach to character education today offers great opportunity to provide children with the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to become life-long learners, get good jobs, have healthy relationships and to become productive and contributing members of the community. Effective school-based character education must promote the pursuit of excellence and the pursuit of ethical behavior.

"Schools, parents, and community members are grappling with the importance of virtues such as civility, respect, integrity, and hard work, and how these relate to success in life, and in our nation's capacity to flourish in the century ahead," writes Sojourner. 

The policy paper examines the long and often complicated history of character education in the U.S., including mixed results of past programs and changing attitudes and mores, which have resulted in schools de-emphasizing their role in teaching morals and ethics. Sojourner believes the time is right for a renewed effort in revitalizing the character education movement with a powerful collaboration of parents, educators, healthcare professionals and community groups. Character disposes us to do the morally right thing and to do our best work in all areas of our lives. He points to serious problems with youth today, including poor coping skills, anxiety, and depression among children; bullying in schools; alcohol abuse by college students, and more that make this a critical issue.

Sojourner urges that studies must be undertaken to identify classroom and school-wide strategies that have been successful so that best practices can be established for comprehensive character education. Suggested best practices to explore include positive teacher-student relationships, a positive peer culture, cooperative learning, appropriate adult role modeling, effective and engaging class meetings, community building, moral discussion, conflict resolution, service learning, and democratic student government. 

"Schools must remain a focal point for these efforts, but renewed vision must include all arenas that impact youth education and development: homes, faith communities, youth organizations, sports fields, concert halls and dance studios, summer camps, and places of employment," writes Sojourner. "We realize more than ever the need to reach young people everywhere, expanding beyond the classroom to make a significant impact on children through their families and communities."

Mark Hyatt, President & CEO of CEP said, "We at CEP recognize that character education is truly a 24/7, lifelong endeavor. And class is always in session, both in school and out. Dr. Sojourner's white paper 'jump starts' the national conversation that families, schools and communities have needed for years."  

To download a copy of The Rebirth and Retooling of Character Education in America  click here.

About The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation

The Foundation was established with the support of The McGraw-Hill Companies and is a Section 501(c)(3) organization. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hillresearchfoundation.org/.

About The Character Education Partnership (CEP)

CEP is a national advocate and leader for the character education movement and is a Section 501(c)(3) organization. Based in Washington, DC, CEP's mission is to provide the vision, leadership and resources for schools, families and communities to develop ethical citizens committed to building a just and caring world. Additional information is available at www.character.org  

SOURCE The McGraw-Hill Research Foundation