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Character Education in Public Schools

Our public school system, from arrival to dismissal, is packed with objectives, lessons, and expectations. It may almost seem detrimental to throw another curriculum course on top of everything else. The case for character education, however, is different. Unlike the academic subject areas, character education teaches social emotional skills to students that they can use in any situation, whether the student is interacting with other students, adults, or deciding their course of action alone. Character education is an important element of socialization that can be easily overlooked. When students are introduced to concepts of character, they are asked to reflect on their own personal values and how they are treating others around them. With a well-written character education curriculum, students can be guided into considering their actions and how they affect others around them. This self-reflection leads to a positive school climate where students are more considerate of their own behaviors. Giving students and teachers a common vocabulary will allow them to communicate their emotions and ideas more effectively, and in turn, can reduce unwanted behaviors. 
Character education also allows for a stronger understanding of social emotional learning. When conflict arises between students, they can communicate to one another by their observations on each others behaviors through the lens of the common character values. This empowers students to self advocate and to advocate for others if they see peers are being targeted for teasing or bullying. A strong character education will also allow for the foundations of successful adult interactions. Through scaffolding character education throughout the years of development, students can be given a stronger understanding of their own character strengths and shortcomings. They can better understand how to utilize their strengths in each social situation, while understanding what character traits they need to practice to improve. By understanding their own strengths, they will be able to see the value in a diversity of character traits in their peers, and will be better able to work in diverse groups of people throughout their lives. 

What do you do to foster character education at your school?

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