Character Education

character education


This curriculum method revolves around developing “good character” in students by practicing and teaching moral values and decision making.

Basic Elements

Character education assumes that schools don’t just have the responsibility to help students get “smart,” they also have the responsibility to help them cultivate basic moral values to guide their behavior throughout life.

Today’s emphasis on character education is propelled by the decline in family influence, downward trends in youth character, and the emerging consensus of shared ethical values.

Character education teaches students to understand, commit to, and act on shared ethical values–in other words, “know the good, desire the good, and do the good.” Typical core values include respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, fairness, caring, and community participation.

Schools committed to character education tend to:

Emphasize the importance of adults modeling values in the classroom as well as in their everyday interactions

Help students clarify their values and build personal bonds and responsibilities to one another

Use the traditional curriculum as a vehicle for teaching values and examining moral questions

Encourage moral reflection through debate, journals, and discussion

Encourage values in action through community service and other community involvement strategies

Support teacher development and dialogue among educators on the moral dimension of their job

The influence of character education is evident in the outcomes of many school districts emphasizing qualities such as “participant in a democratic society,” “contributor to the community,” and “ethical global citizen.”


“Character Education,” Education Leadership, November, 1993.

The Journal of Character Education, Jefferson Center for Character Education, Pasadena, CA.

Reclaiming Our Schools: A Handbook on Teaching Character, Academics and Discipline, Wynne, Edward A. and Ryan, Kevin. New York: Merrill.