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Values, Citizenship and Morals in the Classroom August 11, 2013

     The reading that most impacted me throughout this module on values, citizenship and morals education is that by Mark Hyatt (2013) titled No Refuge for Role Models. The main theme through this reading was that children learn about good character mostly from the adults in their lives who model it for them. Mark Hyatt was specifically referring to the adults who students encounter on a daily basis at school. This includes teachers, administration, janitors, lunch workers, bus drivers, etc. The character that students see emanating from these individuals speaks so much louder than the lessons they hear in the classroom on respect, honesty, diligence, kindness, etc. Hyatt went so far as to say that “there is no place to hide” when it comes to the impact a respected adult can have on the character knowledge of a child. I honestly believe this to be true. Moreover, the adults who work with children in an educational setting are likely held to a higher standard than most other adults in their lives save for their own families.

     Russell Kirk (1987) speaks directly to the role, or to the diminishing role, of families in providing exemplars to serve as role models to children. He states that “… the recovery of virtue in America depends in great part upon the reinvigoration of family.” Russell points out that, at the time of his writing, affluence and mobility have played a significant part in the erosion of family which, in turn, has diminished the power of family to pass on a sense of virtue to children. He laments that even many of the Christian churches in the U.S. today have replaced the traditional virtues of Christianity with the more nebulous concept of “humanitarianism”.

All of this is to say that perhaps we should take a closer look at how we can best teach values, citizenship and morals in the classroom.  Russell  Kirk (1987) asserts that the family (ie. Parents and grandparents) has, at least in the past, effectively transferred morals and values to their children. It would therefore seem appropriate and imperative that we engage the family in the development and implementation of a character education curriculum in the classroom. Secondly, Phillip Johnson offers many practical ways to incorporate character education into the day to day activities in the classroom (as  stated in Dr. William’s lecture, August, 2013) Some of these are: explicit character instruction as part of the curriculum, moral instruction through literature and music, rituals and ceremonies on special holidays (such as Martin Luther King Day),  classroom rules, to name a few. Finally, as expressed by Mark Hyatt (2013), we as educators must take our role seriously and “… live the values that (we) hope to see in these children.” What we profess should also be what we project.

Hyatt, M. (2013). No refuge for role models. In Character Education Partnership. Retrieved August 7, 2013, from http://www.character.org/about/news/newsbriefs/no-refuge-for-role-models/

Kirk, R., (1987). The wise men know what wicked things are written in the sky. Washington, D.C: Regnery Publishing, Inc.

Williams, T. (2013, August). Values, citizenship, and moral education. Survey of instructional strategies. Lecture conducted from Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA