Friday, May 06, 2005

Are Schools Teaching This?

Back in my school days, we weren't taught about what values it takes to develop personal character. I think it was assumed that, through parental lessons at home and church, most kids got all the character education they needed before heading for school. And that was probably the case.

Well, times have changed. Today's economics dictate that there are few stay-at-home moms to provide after-school, "do the right thing" knowledge. As for dads, you know the story. Some are so caught up in making a buck that they have little time for youth involvement. Others are fathers, but far from what most would call a "dad". If it weren't for Big Brothers-Big Sisters, a lot of kids wouldn't have a fatherly, or motherly, influence in their lives at all. And, then there are the parents who would have a difficult time spelling character...let alone teach it. Church-going is down. So, character teachings at home are unavailable, or at least less avialable, to many young people.

Here are the character lifeskills I'm talking about--

Respect-Showing regard for self, others, property and those in authority.
Responsibility-Willingness to be accountable for your own actions without blaming others.
Peace-Working and living in harmony with each other.
Empathy-Identifying and understanding others' feelings in order to get along better with people.
Integrity-Doing what is right even if it is difficult.
Honesty- Truthfulness in words and actions.
Perseverance-Staying with a task; not giving up.
Cooperation-Working together in a peaceful way.
Self-Discipline-Thinking about your words and actions and then making choices that are right for you and others.
Trustworthiness-Being honest, reliable, and doing what you say you'll do.
Fairness-Playing by the rules, being open-minded, listening to others, and not taking advantage of others.
Caring-Being compassionate and showing others you care.
Citizenship-Doing your share to make your school and community better, getting involved, staying informed and being a good neighbor.

The good news is that the answer to the headline to this piece is YES. Many schools are making serious efforts to teach and foster character in our schools. In fact, the above list came to me in a small brochure packaged with my West Pointe bank statement this month. Terry Schaefer at the bank received it from Belleville's public grade school district 118. The brochure says the district, and many others locally, have been attempting to bridge the "character gap" at their schools for several years. Perhaps you knew this. I didn't.

My hope is that when today's youth grow to adulthood they will do the right thing by re-kindling the tradition of character education at home and in religious settings. Then we could allow our school teachers to focus on "the three Rs".

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