Sunday, February 4, 2018


Need of Value Education in Modern Era

Nurturing and bringing up kids in proper manner by parents (and schools) is a service to humanity. Imparting proper values in early years ensures a wise person for the future, a deserving world citizen. Values are the concepts that describe human behavior. They are desirable ideals and goals, which are intrinsic and when achieved, in fact, evoke a deep sense of the fulfillment.

These days in continuous changing conditions, values are left far behind. There is gross erosion of values of individual to keep pace with the society in order to fulfill one’s desire to be at the top. The erosion of human values in respect to truth, co-operation, non-violence, peace, love and respect for parents, elders, authority and hard work is leading to the decay of moral and social fabric of society at a speed never witnessed in the history of civilization. Our stress is too much on standards of living and not on standards of life. Though the problem of decreasing values extends to the whole range of human activities, education field is regarded as the proper place to inculcate positive values.

Though we have made progress in knowledge, still we are not above the levels of our past 
generations in ethical and spiritual life. In some, we have declined from their standards. Inculcation of human values has to be stressed in our system of modern education to prevent and combat world terrorism, tension, diversities, self-centered vision and violence. Through quality education; restoring of humane values (viz., social, moral, spiritual, environmental, Political and Work values) is possible. The main aim of value education is to reform attitude and behavior, to promote healthy lifestyle, to shape the high moral character and to develop refined personality of younger generation, who can prove themselves as the best citizen of a nation.

In his book, The Educated Child, William J. Bennett writes, “Good character education means cultivating virtues through formation of good habits.” According to Bennett, children need to learn through actions that honesty and compassion are good, and that deceit and cruelty are bad. He believes that adults in schools and parents should strive to be models of good character.

Character education is most effective when it is spread throughout regular school course. In science, teachers can discuss the value of honesty in data, and in math, students can learn persistence by sticking with a problem until they get the right answer. History holds valuable lessons and heroes of character, such as the honesty of Abraham Lincoln, who walked three miles to return 6 cents.

Character education includes having high standards for students’ academic success, too. “When they are challenged to work up a mental sweat, they learn about virtues such as industry and persistence,” writes Bennett. “When students rarely get homework, when they aren’t held accountable for mistakes in spelling or grammar or arithmetic, when they can put forth little effort but still earn high grades, schools foster laziness, carelessness and irresponsibility.”

A typical Character Education Program:  

The Beaufort County School District’s Character Education program was formed to support parents' efforts in developing good character in their children. The schools counselors identified a list of character words and definitions deem important regardless of a person's political leanings, race, gender or religious convictions. The purpose of the Character Education program is to integrate good character traits into the total school environment, as well as into the community. These words and definitions focus on the attitudes and personal qualities that build a foundation for success in life and work. These character traits are imbedded throughout the curriculum and are a daily focus of both students and school staff members. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Character Education

1.       What is character education?

Character education is an educational movement that supports the social, emotional and ethical development of students. It is the proactive effort by schools, districts, and states to instill in students important core, ethical and performance values such as caring, honesty, diligence, fairness, fortitude, responsibility, and respect for self and others. Character education provides long-term solutions to moral, ethical, and academic issues that are of growing concern in our society and our schools. Character education teaches students how to be their best selves and how to do their best work. 

Eleven Principles of typical Character Education Program: 

Promotes core ethical and performance values
Teaches students to understand, care about, and act upon these core ethical and performance values.
Encompasses all aspects of the school culture
Fosters a caring school community
Provides opportunities for moral action
Supports academic achievement
Develops intrinsic motivation
Includes whole-staff involvement
Requires positive leadership of staff and students
Involves parents and community members
Assesses results and strives to improve 

Character education is always an essential part of schools’ mission. In fact, since the founding of American nation’s public schools, character development was always an integral part of schooling along with academics. Today’s character education movement is a re-emergence of that important mission. 

2.       Why do we need character education?

As Dr. Thomas Lickona, author of Educating for Character, stated, "Moral education is not a new idea. It is, in fact, as old as education itself. Down through history, in countries all over the world, education has had two great goals: to help young people become smart and to help them become good."
Since children spend sizable day time in school, schools must be proactive in helping develop supportive environments where students develop into healthy, caring, hard-working men and women. In order to create the caring and respectful schools and communities we all want, we must be intentional and comprehensive in educating for character. 

3.       Is character education as important as academics?

The social, emotional and ethical development of young people is just as important as their academic development. It is, in fact, the precursor to academic achievement. As Theodore Roosevelt stated, "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." After all, we know that good workers, citizens, parents, and neighbors all have their roots in good character. 

4.       How do we know character education works?

Schools that infuse character education into their curricula and cultures, find improved academic achievement, behavior, school culture, peer interaction, and parental involvement. They see dramatic transformations: pro-social behaviors such as cooperation, respect, and compassion are replacing negative behaviors such as violence, disrespect, apathy, and underachievement. And when these positive attitudes and behaviors are present, students are better able to commit themselves to their work, which paves the way for perseverance, diligence, and ultimately, increased academic achievement. 

Some specific examples of research conducted on character-based programs include:

In a study of four schools using Positive Action, the average number of behavioral incidents (including violence and substance abuse) requiring discipline referral dropped by 74 percent after the program was implemented for one year and by an average of 80 percent during the next six years. Additionally, absenteeism decreased between 30 to 60 percent, and achievement scores improved from an average of the 43rd to the 71st percentile range after the first year of implementation, and to an average of the 88th percentile after two to nine years. 

5.       Isn’t character education just another "add-on" that contributes to teachers’ workloads?

Character education is not an "add-on." It is, instead, a powerful and necessary method of school reform. Character education helps educators fulfill their fundamental responsibility, preparing young children for their future, by fostering caring, respectful, achievement-minded school environments. 

6.       How much time each day/week is needed for character education?

Character education should not be relegated to a "character education class" that is conducted periodically, but should be infused throughout the structures and processes of the entire school curriculum and culture. 

7.       Can character education work at all grade levels?

Although it is important to set a strong foundation during earlier grades and to reinforce that foundation during the latter grades, character education can be initiated at any grade level.

8.       Shouldn't parents be the primary character educators?

Developing character is first and foremost a parental responsibility. The task, however, must be shared with schools and the broader community. Young and old alike regularly voice concern about the challenge of raising ethical, responsible children. As such, parents and communities are increasingly looking to schools for assistance.  

9.       Who decides which character education traits are emphasized?

Each school community should reach consensus on which values are taught. To be effective, school based character education programs need broad support from all stakeholders in the community –educators, parents, community leaders, youth service groups, businesses, and faith and charitable groups. Effective character education initiatives nationwide have shown that, despite differences, schools and communities can join together around a commitment to ethical and performance values. We know that there are some things that we all value – for ourselves and for our children. We want our children to be honest and hard-working. We want them to respect those different from themselves. We want them to make responsible decisions in their lives. We want them to care about their families, communities, and themselves.

10.  Who teaches character education in a school?

Every adult in a school is a character educator by virtue of interaction with students. Regardless of whether a school has formalized character education, all adults serve as role models. Students constantly watch as adults in the school – teachers, administrators, counselors, coaches, cafeteria aides, and bus drivers – serve as models for character – whether good or bad. 

11.  How does a school implement character education? 

Comprehensive, effective character education begins when members of a school, along with the local community, come together to determine the core values that they share.  These values then become the foundation for all that the school does – curriculum, teaching strategies, school culture, and extra-curricular activities.  Character education is then infused into the broader community.

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 Mr. Berkowitz. "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.

Educating World Citizens for the 21st Century, Oct. 8–9, 2009

Mind & Life Institute Conference held in Washington D.C. The Penn State College of Education was organized where experts in various fields contributed their views. The urgent challenges of a globalized and interdependent world demand a new vision of world citizenship that is not confined to national boundaries, but encompasses moral and ethical responsibilities to all humanity. People coming of age in the 21st century will need to develop unprecedented levels of intercultural cooperation, mutual moral concern, creativity, and skill in effectively addressing the challenges of the world today – challenges economic, ecological, and inter-cultural/religious in nature. An education that will prepare young people to become competent and compassionate world citizens in such a context cannot be measured only in terms of cognitive skills and knowledge, but must address wider aspects of the heart, including skills and qualities of awareness associated with conscious self-regulation, ethical and social responsibility, and empathy and compassion for others.

This interdisciplinary dialogue was to honor insights from various perspectives on this issue, including those from educational theory and practice, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and the wisdom of contemplative traditions. The organizers intent was for the synergy of these converging disciplines to inspire and support visions of education that focus on the development of the whole person (including both students and educators) within more caring and effective school communities.
Educators have seen impressive results in the field of social and emotional learning (SEL), a form of education that helps children and adults develop fundamental social and emotional skills conducive to life effectiveness. Studies have documented that SEL has a positive impact on promoting ethical and pro-social behavior in young people as well as supporting their academic learning.

Neuroscience is beginning to build a body of evidence on the positive effects of contemplative practices on the minds, brains and bodies of adults. The goal is to “be the change we wish to see in the world” as Gandhi put it. Moreover, since school is often one of the most stable environments for children and youth exposed to developmental risks, focusing on school-based programs may be the best way to help children develop the non-academic skills necessary to be successful and contributing members of 21st century society.

Many such efforts are being done by thinkers in all part of the world but still except some few rare successes, the aim is yet to yield any significant results.

Vijay R. Joshi.

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