It is no secret that I am a huge proponent of character. I am also a proponent of teaching character. While still in the classroom I learned very quickly that having character is not a set of traits you are born with. It must be taught.
When I visit classrooms today, I find more and more that character is not taught. It may come in a punitive form for unacceptable behavior, but it is not seen as a vital measure of prevention. I am not sure why this is.
A recent article I read explained that across the board a disproportionate number of students (minority students) were disciplined inappropriately due to lack of education on a social-emotional level. (character) It suggested administrators disciplining and even expelling students for certain behavioral offenses could cause long lasting negative effects and school districts should rethink their policy. Instead schools should invest in preventative programs in order to empower the students and increase the safety of all students.
Among the recommendations:
• Assess factors contributing to disparities in school safety and discipline Schools should audit factors contributing to poor discipline and violence. Title or low income schools tend to have higher rates of violence leading to expulsion of students, higher absentee rate, and higher rate of students dropping out of school.
• Expand collection and use of data on non-academic conditions in schools Gather more data on the challenges on school conditions, physical and emotional safety, student social and emotional skills, student support, and family background.
• Implement evidence-based social and emotional learning Build social and emotional competence through training and effective implementation
Ah hah! Build social and emotional competence! Character does count. But you have to teach it.