The Board of Education Criteria for Character Education (PDF)
The Character Education Partnership (CEP), a nonprofit, nonpartisan and nonsectarian organization that supports and promotes social, emotional and ethical development in youth defines character education as "the deliberate effort by schools, families, and communities to help young people understand, care about, and act upon core ethical values." (1999) The Council of Chief State School Officers states that "character education holds that certain core values form the basis of 'good character,' i.e., the kinds of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that the school wants from, and is therefore committed to teach to, its children." (1997)
Character Education is a national movement creating schools that foster ethical, responsible, and caring young people by modeling and teaching good character through an emphasis on universal values that we all share. It is the intentional, proactive effort by schools, districts, and states to instill in their students important core, ethical values such as respect for self and others, responsibility, integrity, and self-discipline. It provides long-term solutions that address moral, ethical, and academic issues that are of growing concern about our society and the safety of our schools. Character education may address such critical issues as student absenteeism, discipline problems, drug abuse, gang violence, teen pregnancy, and poor academic performance. Parents are the primary moral educators of their children. An effective character education program in the schools supports the home by encouraging positive character development. At its best, character education integrates positive values into every aspect of the school day.
Thomas Lickona in Educating for Character (1991) states there are 9 classroom strategies and 3 school-wide strategies for an effective comprehensive approach to character education.
- The teacher as caregiver, model, and ethical mentor: Treating students with love and respect, encouraging right behavior, and correcting wrongful actions.
- A caring classroom community: Training students to respect and care about each other.
- Moral discipline: Using rules and consequences to develop moral reasoning, self-control, and generalized respect for others.
- A democratic classroom environment: Using the class meeting to engage students in shared decision making and in taking responsibility for making the classroom the best it can be.
- Teaching values through the curriculum: Using the ethically rich content of academic subjects as vehicles for values teaching.
- Cooperative learning: Fostering students’ ability to work with and appreciate others.
- The “conscience of craft”: developing students’ sense of academic responsibility and the habit of doing their work well.
- Ethical reflection: Developing the cognitive side of character through reading, research, writing, and discussion.
- Conflict resolution: Teaching students how to solve conflicts.
- Caring beyond the classroom: Using role models to inspire altruistic behavior and providing opportunities for school and community service.
- Creating a positive moral culture in the school: Developing a caring school community that promotes the core values.
- Parents and community as partners: Helping parents and the whole community join the schools in a cooperative effort to build good character.
Strategies to start, evaluate and enhance your school-based character education programs:
- Form a leadership group, including students, parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators.
- Develop a knowledge base: Study the Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education at www.character.org
- Look at your school’s Mission Statement. Does it indicate the school’s responsibility for promoting character development?
- Conduct a survey that gets input from staff, students, and parents. Use the data to discover areas of strength and weakness.
- Involve all staff (custodians, cafeteria workers, administrators, bus drivers, etc.) in a planning meeting. Brainstorm ways you currently promote character development and consider an additional approach to expand or enhance your focus.
- Identify target virtues for your program.
- Obtain feedback on how to focus or enlarge the school’s program.
- Design an action plan for implementation to include evaluation points.
- Hold regular meetings to evaluate and reflect on progress.
- Share your school’s focus and publish activities and celebrations.
- Educating for Character: A Virginia Tradition
This is a series of video modules written and produced in 2004 by the Virginia Character Education Partnership. It begins with a short history of character education development within Virginia, including a discussion of the Code of Virginia, which requires character education within all schools.
- Training guide and sample lesson plans (PDF)
- Module 1 – Introduction & Background (MPG)
- Module 2 – Why Character Education in Virginia Public Schools? (MPG)
- Module 3 – What is Character Education? (MPG)
- Module 4 – How Do I Begin? (MPG)
- Module 5 – What Does Character Education Look Like? (MPG)
- Module 6 – How Do I Integrate Character Education Into What I Am Already Doing? (MPG)
- Module 7 – How Do I Know It Is Working? (MPG)
- Center for the 4th and 5th R's
- Character Education Partnership
- Character Education and Life Skills Lessons
- Character Counts
- Character Development Group
- Character Development & Leadership
- Good Character
- I Am Going To College
- Peace Learning Center
- Youth Leadership Initiative
- National Service Learning Partnership
- U.S. Department of Education, What Works Clearinghouse
- Josephson Institute
- Learning For Life
- Virginia Rules
- Wings – Helping Kids Soar