We can look at character education as siting down a bunch of children and teaching them what is right and wrong using paper and pen. Then the children take a quiz. However, this approach will not go far because children are not actively participating in the process of shaping their personalities. What could serve this purpose of character education a lot better is various activities aimed at nurturing certain virtues. That way, the children would feel as if they reached the revelation about what the good thing to do is themselves and it would also help them develop skills necessary to progress with good character as adults.
When it comes to adults, the question of activities is a little more complicated for two main reasons. First, adults tend to think they are beyond these kinds of things because it surpasses their understanding of the world. The second reason is born out of the first one, and it is that they fail to stay engaged in a character-building activity. So let’s explore what the possible activities are for children, for adults and how different the approach to them should be.
Ideally, the activities are focused around nurturing these character traits:
- Caring about other people and being a good citizen
It is important to remember that you should not aim for all at once but instead introduce everything gradually and over time by employing activities most suitable for a particular trait.
Boost up exercise is among the most common ones when it comes to learning to appreciate and care for other people. It includes children in a group trying to think of ways in which they could compliment their peers. On one hand, this activity is extremely useful because it translates to a larger picture later on, and those children grow up being able to verbally appreciate their family, friends and colleagues, which is a highly desirable skill. On the other hand, the teacher needs to make sure that the children do not use this opportunity to distinguish a more popular child. Also, it is important that the children know each other very well – a situation in which a child cannot say anything about their peer because they’ve simply never spoken is a huge issue.
Taking it back can be good for young children and teens alike. It basically involves giving the children a packet of salt, having them dump it out on their desk and then asking to put every single grain pack into the packet. The frustration that occurs is what the teacher can use to help children understand that words spoken can have this exact effect, plus you will never be able to take all of them back.
Activities with adults should probably include less artificially produced actions and words and more open discussion about things that made them feel a certain way or helping them understand why they have misbehaved. A lot of times that comes down to therapy, which is an amazing tool to help adults correct their self-image and understanding of the world after making mistakes.