ERIC Number: EJ763343
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Reference Count: N/A
From Aristotle to Angelou: Best Practices in Character Education
Dovre, Paul J.
Education Next, v7 n2 p38-45 Spr 2007
The modern character education movement emerged in the 1980s as a consequence of growing parental and public concern for moral drift, or what sociologist James Davison Hunter referred to as "the death of character." This public anomie was captured in these words from Sanford McDonnell, chairman emeritus of McDonnell Douglas and chair of the Character Education Partnership (CEP), a national umbrella group that provides coordination, encouragement, and support to schools: "We have a crisis of character all across America. ...the good news is that we know what to do about it: get back to the core values of our American heritage in our homes, our schools, our businesses, our government, and indeed in each of our daily lives." Two decades later, it is time to ask, What are the successes of the character education movement? What do best practices look like? This essay explores these questions through the study of character education in six schools. Over the course of two months, the author visited each of the selected schools to learn about the program in place--why it was initiated and by whom; what roles faculty, staff, and parents play; what the key program elements are; what the results are and how they are measured; and what obstacles the program faces. The author selected programs in schools of various sizes, types, grade levels, and locations. The six sites include a suburban public school district and a small-town elementary school, a private religious school and a private secular school, an alternative public high school, and a charter school. Each had been designated a National School of Character by the Character Education Partnership (CEP). Though they differ in many ways, the six schools share the critical elements of a comprehensive program in character education. Pedagogy is guided by a set of "core values" or "virtues." The schools provide abundant opportunities for "moral discourse" about complex, contested matters and "moral action" through both organized community service and in-school conduct.
Descriptors: Moral Values, Social Values, Program Effectiveness, Ethical Instruction, Service Learning, Student Behavior, Values Education, Citizenship Education, Interpersonal Competence, Charter Schools, Classical Literature, Private Schools, Teaching Methods, Educational Environment, Accountability, Classics (Literature), Student Diversity, Interpersonal Relationship, Peace
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
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