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Character Education

Character Education

Throughout the time, societies have recognized the need to educate the coming generation of adults to pass on knowledge and skills. Recorded history from long before the present era emphasizes that education must also develop character. Character education is an umbrella term loosely used to describe the teaching of children in a manner that will help them develop variously as moral, civic, good, mannered, behaved, non-bullying, healthy, critical, successful, traditional, compliant or socially acceptable beings. Concepts that now and in the past have fallen under this term include social and emotional learning, moral reasoning and cognitive development, life skills education, health education, violence prevention, critical thinking, ethical reasoning, and conflict resolution and mediation.[1] Many of these are now considered failed programs, i.e. “religious education”, “moral education”, “values clarification”. One of the great education reformers, Horace Mann, in the 1840s, helped to improve instruction in classrooms nationwide, advocating that character development was as important as academics in American schools. The United States Congress, recognizing the importance of this concept, authorized the Partnerships in Character Education Program in 1994. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 renews and re-emphasizes this tradition—and substantially expands support for it. Indeed, one of the six goals of the Department of Education is to “promote strong character and citizenship among our nation’s youth” (Strategic Plan 2002-2007). To reach this goal, the Department of Education joins with state education agencies and school districts across our country to provide vital leadership and support to implement character education.


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