Exams or character development?

Since the movie Selma is on release and since he had a quotable definition of education, let’s take a quote from Martin Luther King Jnr:

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues’ own logo is:

Good character is the foundation for improved attainment and human flourishing.

It might not be politically correct, it won’t be what the looney liberals on the Left want to hear, it’ll make the bile of the latest trendsetters – the atheists – flow, but research at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at Birmingham University can reveal:

School-age children who attend church, do charity work or sing in choirs are likely to display more sophisticated moral judgments than their peers who play sport, according to a large-scale national survey conducted by Birmingham University…

What is Moral Virtue? Four types have been identified: 1. Moral virtues such as honesty and kindness. 2. Civic Virtues include volunteering and community service.
3. Intellectual Virtues like curiosity and creativity.
4. Performance Virtues such as perseverance and diligence.

A traditional virtue known as phronesis is popularly known as a practical wisdom, which entails being able to chose the right course of action in a situation, requiring the subject to be autonomous and reflective as well as moral. This practical wisdom enwraps all other virtues.

Virtue in the traditional sense – inherited from the Greek philosophers meant “excellence”. So, character and virtue is about excellence and ethics, being the best you can be and living well in society.

In their research, the researchers found exams grades had no bearing on the schools faring the best or worst in the moral/character reasoning and neither did it matter whether the schools were private, state, faith or not. As Prof Thomas Lickona says in his foreword to the Jubilee Centre Research Report: “Education, rightly conceived has two great goals:  to help students to become smart and to help them become good.” This requires training teachers to teach character and virtue skill, the school to include it in its mission statement and the modelling by parents.

Further Information
Character Education in Schools: Research Report by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at Birmingham University: click here
Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues: click here
A Framework for Character Education in Schools: click here

Further Resources
Prof Christian Smith, Lecturer in sociology, Notre Dame, author of Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood, shows a trend towards a decline in moral values. This, he says, is because – at least in America – we are failing to teach and model moral reasoning skills: click here
Emeritus Professor Thomas Lickona, an expert on character and virtue education: Centre for the 4th and 5th Rs: click here
It’s also worth visiting the website of C.J. Simister whose book The Bright Stuff is one of the best for applying virtues and character building: click here

NEW BOOK: The Road to Character by David Brooks: Amazon link

NEW ARTICLE: Parenting builds character for the parents! Click Here

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