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Character Education Revisited
January 10, 2003

"When some folks agree with my opinions I begin to suspect I'm wrong."
–Kin Hubbard


We have featured a number of responses to David Elkind's article, "Character Education – An Ineffective Luxury?" (Child Care Information Exchange, November, 1998). The May, 1999 issue of Exchange featured a rebuttal to this article by Bettye Caldwell, where she observed, "David Elkind asserts that 'character education is a luxury that we cannot afford.' I would counter with the exact opposite assertion: we cannot afford not to be concerned with character education." 

In her response, Caldwell criticizes Elkind for a lack of research evidence, particularly recent research, to bolster his conclusions. She cites examples of curriculum add-ons for character development that have been proven effective. In addition, she identifies curriculum efforts around the country that infuse character education into all classroom activities. In concluding her argument, Caldwell observes...

Efforts to infuse the curriculum with experiences that stimulate character or moral development go back a long way in this country. I want to document that by offering a quote from America's greatest educational philosopher of the 20th century, John Dewey: 

'A narrow and moralistic view of morals is responsible for the failure to recognize that all the aims and values which are desirable in education are themselves moral. Discipline, natural development, culture, social efficiency, are moral traits -- marks of a person who is a worthy member of that society which it is the business of education to further. There is an old saying to the effect that it is not enough for a man to be good, he must be good for something. The something for which a man must be good is capacity to live as a social member so that what he gets from living with others balances with what he contributes....And education is not a mere means to such a life. Education is such a life.' (John Dewey, Democracy and Education. New York: Free Press, 1916).

"With that beautiful statement, I rest my case that we cannot afford to eliminate character education from our schools -- or from our lives."

You can purchase a copy of the both the May 1999 and the November 1998 back issues of Child Care Information Exchange in the Exchange Bookstore at www.ChildCareExchange.com.

CORRECTION: Yesterday's ExchangeEveryDay Subject Header should have read "South African Children" NOT South American Children. We apologize for any confusion.


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