Character education is a term which is often heard and everyone claims to know what this term means. But in actual terms there are not so many people who have a clear understanding of this very important phrase. To comprehend this term, let’s begin with the term character. What is character? A character is the reflection of ones personality. Your traits, your habits, what you do, what you say, the way you walk, talk, eat, deal with people all comprises your character and personality.
Character education is, as defined by Lickona, “the deliberate, proactive effort to develop good character in kids—or, more simply, to teach children right from wrong. It assumes that right and wrong do exist, that there are objective moral standards that transcend individual choice—standards like respect, responsibility, honesty, and fairness—and that we should teach these directly to young people.”
In simpler words, character education means teaching good moral values, giving a concept of right and wrong, good and evil. Providing character education to kids includes all kind of your interaction with them, it’s in the way you talk to them, the behaviors you exhibit, the actions you encourage etc. In your every kind of dealing with the kids, no matter who you are, you are always contributing towards building their characters.
A common perception is that a child starts the education when he/she goes to school. But it is not correct. In fact the education begins from home. They are the parents and the family that contribute the most towards building up the child’s character. All parents want their children to posses an excellent character, with all positive traits in them. This is not an easy task. It imposes a lot of responsibility on the part of the parents. It’s their duty to filter their child’s activities so that it leads to his positive character building. Here comes a conflict of opinion. Some parents tend to adopt the system of rewards and penalties to bring their children to the correct path. But this act is not so effective because the kids should themselves be able to discriminate between right and wrong so that in the long run, even under pressurized circumstances, they should be able to take fair decisions on their own.
After the parents and family, next two most influential factors are teachers and school environment. The school authorities are responsible to include direct teaching of character education under school curriculum. Students visualize their teachers as role models. Therefore the teachers can play a very significant role in the character building of their students. Teaching emerges from one's inwardness, for better or worse like any truly human activity. Being a good teacher does not only mean to have a complete grasp over your subject but it also demands be morally fair too in your dealings and talks. In a more formal way, one can say that good teaching comes from good people. Education does not only include teaching the curriculum and the technical stuff. But it also means to deliver good moral values to their students and if delivered in a correct way, this leads to the positive character building of the student. There should be regular seminars, conferences and character education programs conducted for the teachers by the school authorities, telling them how to indulge into positive character education of the students and also enlightening them with the fact that they hold very imperative position in the character building of their students. This will develop a sense of responsibility in teachers and they will feel themselves liable for the character building of their students. Effective character education is not which is only practiced by teachers but also it must be modeled by all other adults in the school with whom the student interacts like faculty, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, maintenance staff etc.
For providing proper character education it is very important to know the basic building blocks of a good character. Some of the attributes which are of foremost importance in building a good character are justice, self discipline and control, gratitude, wisdom, integrity, humanity, fortitude, hard work, love and positive attitude.
Media and books are also very important means of character education. Reading stories with a good moral generally inspires children, young boys and girls. Watching TV programs that deliver a lesson can also be very helpful in this regard.
Character educating no doubt holds the same importance in life as the normal technical education. Therefore this part should not be ignored and one should contribute to the maximum in positive character building of the people for whom he/she is liable for.