Why character education is needed is discussed a lot in the news in Japan today, since with the ageing population in Japan, there have been more and more incidents being reported of elderly folk lashing out ill-mannered kids in public. The need for character education is also an issue in other developing countries as well…you can read more on this topic at the Character Education News website. A study carried out in Singapore showed that schools that stressed character education were also the top ranking schools in terms of academics. Many parents believe in sending their kids to established educational institutions and famed private schools the world over because these schools possess great history are usually the ones steeped in tradition, discipline and ethical values.
There are many “character curriculums” put out by Christians for homeschoolers or church groups and schools, but far fewer secular ones available. It used to be that child parenting books read like manuals … dos and don’ts, 1, 2, 3 pointers or how to fix this and that. But today’s new-generation parenting books have transcended those “manuals”, they are now often thought-provoking experience-laden gems, filled with soulful ideas, insightful stories, and each book with unique ideas for a great very many different situation. One thing I thought was interesting is that nobody really talks about raising “good” kids anymore, we’d rather talk about raising “emotionally intelligent” kids. When it comes to building “character” and “values”, one can also quibble over which values should be considered desirable since the choice of values can be controversial depending on the individual adult parent’s religious/non-religious persuasion or political leanings. In any event, it is possible to read and enjoy the lot of parenting books, and find lots to ponder over. Below are a few suggestions for good reads:
What Do You Stand For? For Kids: A Guide to Building Character by Barbara Lewis is a really good place or way to start in having those heart to heart talks with your kids on character. Not too overwhelming or preachy, it is easy enough to work your way through it but it is probably only suitable for the elementary school set of kids. Buy the book or read it online.
Teaching Your Children Values by Linda and Richard Eyre
I love this one, it’s got really practical tips and ideas for dealing with all sorts of themes and situations for kids from preschoolers to teenaged youths, and suggests stories, poems and games to help kids learn to discern what constitutes courage, peaceability, to modesty, fidelity and chastity and service-spiritedness and other many values and qualities. Also interesting in that it’s actually a “curriculum” guide meant to be put into practice over a 12 month period.
Children learn What They Live; Parenting to Inspire Values by Dorothy Law Nolte and Rachel Harris – Regarded as one of the most inspirational of parenting books ever written, it deals with the most difficult part about parenting, how to be the role model around kids.
Raising a Happy Unspoiled Child by Burton L. White
Children are from Heaven by John Gray (Subtitled Positive Parenting Skills for Raising Cooperative, Confident and Compassionate Children)
The Heart of Parenting by John Gottman and Joan Claire
The book gets the nod from the guru who coined the word EQ or Emotional Intelligence Daniel Coleman, and according to the Publishers’ Weekly review is a manual meant “for parents to whom nurturing doesn’t come easily”. Written by a psychology professor, in tackling the issue of how to raise “emotionally intelligent” kids, Gottman defines the five steps of “emotion coaching”: being aware of the child’s emotions; recognizing the presence of emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching; listening empathically and validating the child’s feelings; helping the child to verbally label emotions; setting limits and problem-solving. He says that his studies demonstrate that children who are “emotion-coached” learn better, get along well with others and are physically healthier and socially better adapted than children who have not had such “coaching.
Aside from the above books, you might be also be interested in character curriculum designed for schools. For further resources on character education for schools, see below:
At each of these educational levels, this character education curriculum provides students with the necessary skills to be successful in all facets of their lives. This research-based curriculum is designed to improve the character and leadership traits among high school, middle school and alternative school students. The curriculum resource provides consistent weekly lesson plans of ethical dilemmas, lectures, character movie segments, current events, core readings from The Role Models textbook, basic skills and expository writing assignments. According to the website, “approximately 60% of the schools currently using this curriculum teach this as a stand-alone course, using it as an elective leadership course or as mandatory class for their freshmen academy. Others target specific populations in their school, such as at-risk populations, upperclassmen showing leadership potential or student government members. The other 40% of schools choose to integrate this curriculum into other core classes, such as social studies, business, career development, JROTC, health, English or P.E. Homeroom and advisory concepts are also a popular way to use this curriculum over three or four years.”
One Character Education Program that Works Education World reports on a new character education curriculum developed in Pittsburgh called Your Environment Character Education
Free Character Educational Curriculum Resources by Boston U’s School of Education here including lists of books for kids for developing character.
The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child by Ron Clark This is the NY Times Bestseller written by an award-winning educator. The winner of the 2001 Disney Teacher of the Year Award presents some revolutionary ideas for the classroom: manners, industriousness and accountability.
The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics’ CharacterCounts.org website offers FREE teaching tools (curriculum lesson plans, handouts, printouts and other resources) that focus on building the 6 Pillars of Character (Trustworthiness. Respect. Responsibility. Fairness. Caring. Citizenship) and developing ethical children which in turns requires strong critical thinking skills.
— A. Kawagoe