Why Character Education should get Top Priority!

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Today the family and educational institutions are just emphasizing on their children to focus towards materialistic gains, where morality is absolutely absent.

By Md. Abdullah Al Helal

Character education is everything that influences the character of the children. Dr. Thomas Lickona, a renowned educationalist, defined character education as the deliberate effort to help people understand, care about, and act upon core ethical values. In his landmark book, Educating for Character, he asserts that “when we think about the kind of character we want for our children, it’s clear that we want them to be able to judge what is right, care deeply about what is right, and then do what they believe to be right””even in the face of pressure from without and temptation from within.” The goal of character education is to develop, reinforce and model positive character traits for children and the best forms of character education also involve students in honest, thoughtful discussion and reflection, regarding the moral implications of what they see around them, what they are told, and what they personally do and experience. Apart from these, character education can greatly help students with their academic subjects as well. Diligence and a sense of responsibility are some of the main core values taught in character education. Building character also helps them to interact properly with their teachers and fellow students, turning their classroom into a better learning environment. Research done on the subject reveals that schools that employ character education have fewer incidences of disciplinary referrals, suspensions, and truancy. It is true that the main reason children are enrolled to a school is to learn about academic subjects like maths, history, science, and so on, but these are not the only things that children need to learn if they ever want to become successful in the real world. Character education gives them the necessary tools that they will be using more often than those that they learn from the other subjects.
It goes without saying that, when money is lost- nothing is lost, when health is lost-something is lost, but when character is lost everything is lost. In reality, in the recent periods this proverb is less important where most of the people are running after money. The family and educational institutions are just emphasizing on their children to focus towards materialistic gains, where morality is absolutely absent. As a result, people with good character are hardly found. People away from morality are adopting any means with a view to fulfill their interests/needs/desires no matter whether legally or illegally deviating from social norms and customs that is accelerating social devaluation rapidly. For this reason, Theodore Roosevelt noted a historical statement that, ‘to educate a person in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society’.
It should be mentioned here that exclusive of people with good character, it is quite impossible to build a peaceful and ideal country. So, in order to avert social devaluation and to uphold the development of the nation as well as for peaceful coexistence, character education should get first and foremost priority as it is the foundation of all lessons.
(The writer is a senior lecturer in Social Work, Centre for General Education, Northern University Bangladesh)