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Building Character in Schools: Practical Ways to Bring Moral Instruction to Life

ISBN: 978-0-7879-6244-9
304 pages
March 2003, Jossey-Bass
Building Character in Schools: Practical Ways to Bring Moral Instruction to Life (0787962449) cover image


Young people in America today face a crisis of character. Traditional role models continue to disappoint the public, falling short of expectations and fostering cynicism rather than idealism. As a result, many young people struggle to distinguish right from wrong and seem indifferent to whether it matters. It clearly becomes the task of parents and schools to re-engage the hearts and minds of our children in forming their own characters. In Building Character in Schools, Kevin Ryan and Karen Bohlin draw from nearly fifty years of combined field experience to offer a practical guide to character education -- designed to help children to know the good, love the good, and do the good.

Ryan and Bohlin provide a blueprint for educators who wish to translate a personal commitment to character education into a schoolwide vision and effort. They outline the principles and strategies of effective character education and explain what schools must do to teach students the habits and dispositions that lead to responsible adulthood -- from developing curriculum that reinforces good character development to strengthening links with parents. A useful resource section includes sample lessons, program guidelines, and a parents' list of ways to promote character in their children.

Building Character in Schools clearly defines the responsibilities of adults and students in modeling and nurturing character and sets forth practical guidelines for schools seeking to become communities of virtue where responsibility, hard work, honesty, and kindness are modeled, taught, expected, celebrated, and continually practiced.
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Table of Contents



The Authors

1 Character Education: What Is It and Why Is It Important? 1

2 Views, Values, or Virtues? 25

3 Building a Community of Virtue 53

4 Cultivating Character Through the Curriculum 89

5 Engaging Parents in Character Education 115

6 The Teacher's Work: Nurturing Character 138

7 Helping Students Take Command 165

Appendix Part 1: Good Ideas

A The Character Education Manifesto 189

B A Seven-Point Program 193

C An Overview of the Virtues 207

D The Montclair Kimberly Academy Declaration 213

E The Boston University Educators Affirmation 215

F Character Quotes 217

Appendix Part 2: Action Strategies

G One Hundred Ways to Bring Character Education to Life 229

H Pitfalls to Avoid in Character Education 239

I Ten Commandments for Parents 243

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Author Information

Kevin Ryan is founder and director emeritus of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character at Boston University. He is the editor or author of twenty books including Moral Education and Reclaiming Our Schools.

Karen E. Bohlin is executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character and assistant professor of education at Boston University. Bohlin and Ryan are coauthors with Deborah Farmer of Building Character in School Resource Guide from Jossey-Bass.

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