6.14 Values and Habits
How do children learn values and good habits and what role do schools have in that process? While parents have the primary role in character development with respect to their children, schools, too, play an essential role.
The concepts of values and habits tend to be collected under the umbrella of “character education,” which can refer to a host of values and attitudes: respect, trust, concern for the welfare of others, standing up for moral principles, responsibility, and the desire to do one’s best. Schools with a religious mission include additional values aligned with a belief system.
Many schools address character education as a part of their way of doing things rather than as a separate subject. A science teacher, for example, can stress the importance of precision and truth when reporting data, while a language arts instructor can examine racism by assigning students to read a novel such as To Kill a Mockingbird.
Research has indicated that a comprehensive program of character education may not simply be effective with regard to the development of good character. There is evidence that these programs connect strongly with important measurable outcomes such as reduced rates of substance abuse, violence, and pregnancy. The Character Education Partnership has identified eleven principles of effective character education and created a scoresheet to help school groups reflect on their approach. (The Center for the 4th and 5th Rs has them beat by one, with twelve principles.) Education writer Alfie Kohn, while supportive of the aims of these programs, views them as “tantamount to indoctrination” and offers his own prescription.
Additional insights on this subject from Ed100.org are available here: http://www.ed100.org/?p=1861
Project Heart, Head, Hands (H3), a program funded through a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, developed a curriculum aligned with California state-adopted language arts texts to “shape capable, caring, socially responsible youth through character education and service-learning.” The program, which now reaches approximately 20,000 students working with over 900 teachers, integrates such activities as writing, discussions and role-playing.
It too often goes without saying that good study habits in school form the basis for work habits that lead to success as an adult. Basic principles that can be used to enhance study skills include: make doing homework a positive experience; make homework a high priority; use homework to teach organization and planning skills; and set expectations for homework.
Thanks to Andrew Sohn for help with this post