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About Character Education

Character Education can be defined as the active development of character strengths or virtues in young people. The practice of character education is based on the view that these strengths are not merely given but can be developed through instruction and practice.

Our work in this area is premised upon two ideas. First, that character is both ‘taught’ and ‘caught’. Taught because pupils need to learn directly about character strengths and virtues, and to be given opportunities to practise them. Caught because students need to be exposed to the concepts and language of character throughout their experience of school.

 

This is often delivered through the ethos of the school, by teachers and other adults in school acting as role models, by empowering students to be role models and recognising them publicly as such, and by engineering enrichment activity so that it emphasises character development.

 

The second idea is that there are five core dimensions to character: intellectual, performance, moral, civic and practical wisdom. These are shown in the diagram below. A complete character education seeks to develop pupils along all five dimensions, and in this broad conception, character encompasses academic achievement as a route to the development of intellectual character strength.

The skills for ‘Character Education’ can be broken up into 6 areas

  • Self Awareness

  • Team Workers

  • Being Resilient

  • Commitment

  • Problem Solver

  • Showing Empathy

 

These skills are besr taught and nurtured across all areas of thee curriculum and to all ages.

Mis-Cellaneous recognise that these need to be seen alongside basic expectations for oracy, because these are, in many ways, both the key to unlocking access to many of these areas of learning, and also central to developing the ability of learners to assimilate, enjoy, voice and reflect on their learning. The essence of these oracy expectations needs to pervade the climate of the classroom, teachers’ modelling and all areas of the curriculum and school life.

Six areas of character development

Self-awareness

Self Awareness is having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self Awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment.

“…nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue.”

—Benjamin Franklin

 

Team worker

Team workers work confidently with others, adapting to different contexts and taking responsibility for their own role. They listen and take account of others’ views. They also form collaborative relationships, resolving issues and reaching agreed outcomes.

 

Being resilient

A person with good resilience has the ability to bounce back more quickly and with less stress than someone whose resilience is less developed. Like any human skill, learning greater resilience is something that you can do at any age, from any background, no matter your education or family relationships.

Showing commitment

Commitment is a value; it means being dedicated, not quitting. In order to teach children the value of commitment, we have to allow them to see that failure is okay. They need to learn to have a ‘stick-with-it’ attitude, and that commitment is something to be honoured, respected, and upheld. We need to teach children to keep going when things get hard, to stick it out and persevere.

Being a problem solver

Children will face many challenges as they grow, whether it is starting school, joining a sporting team or going to their first sleepover. The ability to make decisions and solve problems develops as children learn to cope with daily challenges. Young children are not expected to sort through every issue on their own, and it is likely that they will require lots of guidance from the adults around them. The good news is that encouraging children to take part in problem solving will help them develop this skill over time.

Showing empathy

Empathy is, at its simplest, awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the link between self and others, because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves. When you have empathy, it means you can understand what a person is feeling in a given moment, and understand why other people's actions made sense to them. Empathy helps us to communicate our ideas in a way that makes sense to others, and it helps us understand others when they communicate with us.

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