Character Education and Core Virtues

Topics: Virtue, Education, School Pages: 4 (1374 words) Published: September 6, 2013
When I signed on to teach English at a core virtues school, I had no idea what I was in for. I nodded and smiled in my interview when the Headmaster explained the virtues curriculum, and I parried back with everything I thought she wanted to hear; how I could infuse my lessons on To Kill a Mockingbird with discussions about empathy and courage. I may have even quoted Atticus' line about walking around in someone else's skin. I figured I could tack on some of that quaint "virtue" stuff before getting to the real meat of the lesson, the academic stuff. And for the first year I taught at Crossroads Academy, that's pretty much what I did. I made some empty gesticulations toward the core virtues bulletin board in my classroom and made some token mentions of fortitude at obvious moments in our reading of The Illiad and The Aeneid. I was teaching literature, but I certainly wasn't doing Aristotle proud. I mean come on. Character education? Core virtues? I teach English, not Sunday school, and besides, I teach middle school. If I were to walk into my eighth grade English class and wax rhapsodic about prudence and temperance, those kids would eat me alive. It's hard enough to keep the attention of a classroom full of middle school students without coming on like an 18th-century schoolmarm. Character education is not old-fashioned, and it's not about bringing religion in to the classroom. Character is the "X factor" that experts in parenting and education have deemed integral to success. Somewhere along the way, someone must have started dosing me with the character education Kool-Aid, because five years in, I have come to understand what real character education looks like and what it can do for children. I can't imagine teaching in a school that does not have a hard-core commitment to character education, because I've seen what that education can mean to a child's emotional, moral, and intellectual development. Schools that teach character education report higher...
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