Our Opinion: Character education must include action

Is character education about attitude, action or both?

In connection with the Characterplus program being taught in most public and parochial schools in Cole County, two events were held Monday.

Hal Urban, a former teacher and character education expert, addressed teachers in the afternoon and the community at an evening rally.

He focused on the power of words and also offered two definitions of character education. The first is “bringing out the best in kids.” The second, which he attributed to Thomas Lickona, is “the deliberate effort to help our young people understand, care about and act upon core ethical values.”

The second definition — which includes learning, embracing and doing — combines both attitude and action.

And although people may prioritize those core ethical values differently, everyone generally agrees about what they are. In the coming school year, the values to be emphasized are: respect, responsibility, forgiveness, compassion, motivation, honesty, accountability, trustworthiness, self-confidence, politeness and dependability.

A component of education is learners are more likely to adopt and embrace information and attitudes that have value to them.

What, for example, is the value of respect?

A basic axiom of relationships is you get back what you give. People who respect others will, in turn, be respected, which enhances self-worth.

Character education is based on mutual building blocks. When a value is advanced, in word and deed, it elevates both the giver and the recipient.

Urban told teachers character education is among the most important lessons they impart.

We agree. Character is about much more than what you know. It’s about who you are and what you do.

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