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Feedback on Character Education
October 25, 2002

"No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it."
—Halford E. Luccock


We try to make ExchangeEveryDay thought provoking and maybe even a bit controversial. We can always tell if we succeed in the latter by how many people unsubscribe the day after a particularly provocative piece. The excerpt from David Elkind's Child Care Information Exchange article on Character Education, generated quite a bit of unsubscription activity and many comments. Here are a few of the comments:

Unknown contributor: "I couldn't disagree more. Yes, teachers need support and being a role model is the best way to teach any behavior. But it is not the only way. My daughters attended a total of four elementary schools and only one of them taught character education. It was invaluable. Some children simply aren't even exposed to the word 'respect' and what it means in any other avenue other than at school. Seeing the word in print can be a daily reminder to look for examples of compassion, kindness, respect, integrity, etc... The curriculum that goes with character education uses visual, auditory, and various methods of teaching children what a word means and how to model that behavior. I believe character education, in a school world that overemphasizes numbers and statistics, is a true blessing. Now if we could just get music back in the daily system! Everyone who is considered an educational expert should still be teaching in a classroom and have young children of their own, in this new millenium."

Dr. Alice Sterling Honig: "I agree so much with David Elkind's remarks about character education. Children learn kindness, empathy, patience,generosity, sharing,and oher prosocial feelings and attitudes and behaviors from the adults who model these behaviors in the course of innumerable tiny daily ministrations that convey the somatic certainty of love, security and cherishing from the special persons(s) caring for the child. Preaching is no substituate for this learning through the mediuim of the intimate nurtuing relationship."

Edna Ranck: "Hurray for David Elkind and for CCIE for raiding its archives to report on the 4-year-old article. Exchange may want to follow up with an article that addresses how character is shaped and how preschool programs are actually carrying out such education all the time; character lives in our very skin and is revealed continually. I am especially interested in how the books and videos we share with children, especially in the increased interest in literacy and reading to children, affect children's character development. An example is how Christian church school curricula developed by each denomination use stories from the Old and New Testaments to drive behavior. There's a great variety I assure you!"

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