Let’s speak the truth: Values and character training are needed in schools

2 Mar

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Government will never be able to fix problems in society, there must be a social compact. We would be far better as a society if we put the emphasis of preserving and promoting intact families, making sure that Nixon, yes Nixon and Senator Moynihan’s idea of a Guaranteed Annual Income  based upon tax credits for work were enacted, and character education. Yes, obesity is a problem, but peeps when you are bleeding from the gunshot to the head of 70% of Black children born to single mothers, most of whom are poor and the other ethnic groups rapidly catching up to that sorry statistic, a fat kid is the least of the worries. Caralee J. Adams writes in the Education Week article, Character Education Seen as Student-Achievement Tool:

Many school administrators are realizing character education, once thought of as an intrusion on the school day, can actually help students perform better.

A growing body of research supports its effectiveness, and educators say they’ve seen a difference in students when positive value lessons become part of the school’s culture.

“Good character education is good education,” said Marvin Berkowitz, a professor of character education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

“If kids come to schools where they feel valued, safe, and feel teachers have their best interests at heart, … they commit themselves,” said Marvin Berkowitz, a professor of character education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “They work harder, there are fewer distractions, and kids are more motivated. Of course they learn more.”

Character education often entails a school embracing a set of values that are taught in regular advisory sessions or integrated into classroom lessons or both. Supporters say character education is simply about how people treat each other, and the ideas are fairly universal. The primary traits that schools promote, according to Mr. Berkowitz, are respect, responsibility, caring, fairness, and honesty. It is seen more in elementary schools, sometimes getting squeezed out at the secondary level to make room for more intense academics. But experts say resistance is lessening in some places.

Yet some challenge the notion of the public schools, rather than families, being charged with teaching values. They are concerned about whose values will be taught. Others, however, maintain that schools and families should share the job of nurturing character.

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We live in a society with few personal controls and even fewer people recognize boundaries which should govern their behavior and how they treat others.

This comment is not politically correct. If you want politically correct, stop reading. Children, especially boys, need positive male role models. They don’t need another “uncle” or “fiancée” who when the chips are down cashes out. By the way, what is the new definition of “fiancée?” Is that someone who is rented for an indefinite term to introduce the kids from your last “fiancée” to?

Back in the day, “fiancée” meant one was engaged to be married, got married and then had kids. Nowadays, it means someone who hangs around for an indeterminate period of time and who may or may not formalize a relationship with baby mama. Kids don’t need someone in their lives who has as a relationship strategy only dating women with children because they are available and probably desperate. What children, especially boys, need are men who are consistently there for them, who model good behavior and values, and who consistently care for loved ones. They don’t need men who have checked out of building relationships and those who are nothing more than sperm donors.

This Washington Post article made me think about the importance of healthy male role models in a child’s life. This article is about a good male role model, a hero. Number of Black Male Teachers Belies Their Influence

“I love teaching, and I feel like I am needed,” said Thomas, 33, of Bowie. “We need black male teachers in our classrooms because that is the closest connection we are able to make to children. It is critical for all students to see black men in the classrooms involved in trying to make sure they learn and enjoy being in school.”

The shortage of black male teachers compounds the difficulties that many African American boys face in school. About half of black male students do not complete high school in four years, statistics show. Black males also tend to score lower on standardized tests, take fewer Advanced Placement courses and are suspended and expelled at higher rates than other groups, officials said.

Educators said black male teachers expose students to black men as authority figures, help minority students feel that they belong, motivate black students to achieve, demonstrate positive male-female relationships to black girls and provide African American youths with role models and mentors.

The reason that teachers like Will Thomas are needed, not just for African American kids, is because the number of households headed by single parents, particularly single women is growing. Not all single parent households are unsuccessful in raising children, but enough of them are in crisis that society should be concerned. The principle issues with single parenting are a division of labor and poverty. Two parents can share parenting responsibilities and often provide two incomes, which lift many families out of poverty. Families that have above poverty level incomes face fewer challenges than families living in poverty. Still, all families face the issue of providing good role models for their children. As a society, we are like the Marines, looking for a few good men.

Indiana University has a concise definition of character education in Creating a Positive Climate: Character Education:

Character education simply does that in a more systematic way. Character education includes two primary components: 1) Education in civic virtue and in the qualities that teach children the forms and rules of citizenship in a just society, and 2) Education in personal adjustment, chiefly in the qualities thatenable children to become productive and dependable citizens.4   

                                                                                                                                                 Character education may include a variety of subcomponents that can be a part of a larger character education program or that can be self-standing.      

                                                                                                                                                            These can include social skills instruction and curricula, moral development instruction and curricula, values clarification instruction and curricula, caring education and curricula,5 and school values statements.                                                                                                                                                               Other programs such as cooperative learning strategies, participatory decision-making for students, and service learning are sometimes also classified as components of character education. Character education itself is often viewed as simply one component of some larger school reform and improvement strategies.                                                                                                                                                                  For example, the “Basic School” has four components, one of which is a “Commitment to Character.”6According to Likona,7 the moral or character education of elementary students is designed to accomplish three goals:

· To promote development away from self-centered thinking and excessive individualism and toward cooperative relationships and mutual respect;

· To foster the growth of the capacity to think, feel, and act morally; and

· To develop in the classroom and in the school a moral community based on fairness, caring, and participation – such a community being a moral end in itself as well as a support system for the character development of each individual student.                                 http://www.indiana.edu/~safeschl/charactereducation.pdf

See, Character Education Partnership    http://www.character.org/key-topics/what-is-character-education/

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Thomas Jefferson

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