Shaping the character of a young person is an extremely responsible task. The impressions that people receive from their early childhood to teenage years stay with them for the rest of their lives and it is really difficult to overcome them. This is why helping a young person understand what is right and wrong, how to behave so that not to harm others and what is considered appropriate as well as nurturing concepts of justice, responsibility and civic virtue in them are all very important and best done early in life.
Many mistakenly believe that character education is the sole responsibility of the parents. That couldn’t be further from the truth; a child spends a great part of his or her life at school or interacting with peers, where they do not experience any influence form their parent. Better yet, if it’s only the parents’ responsibility, what happens to those children whose parents happen to be unfit to be role models and decent members of society? In every single child’s life, the school plays a vital role regarding character education.
The schools can go about helping children shape positive characters in many ways, all of which need to be made explicit to the child’s parents and practiced in sync with them. The two most popular ways include lessons directed specifically at nurturing good character and implementation of appropriate character shaping methods into other lessons and school activities. The former option, while straightforward in nature, can be complicated in terms of execution – many people might understand the nuances of right and wrong differently or the child might misinterpret the information given to them. It can lead to long-terms undesirable consequences. And in general, unless the children are very young, they are very likely to fail when it comes viewing the character-shaping activities seriously and there would be little use out of them.
The other, a lot more subtle and potentially a lot more effective, approach to character education in schools is implementing approaches to teaching, giving feedback, reprimanding and praising that would have a positive long-lasting effect on a child. And indeed, if we really think about this, it is the experiences that leave the most direct impact on someone and not theoretical consideration.
For instance, if a child misbehaves in a way that hurts another child, the proper response is not to punish the child, but to sit them down and have a proper conversation about the outcomes of such an action. Asking a child about how a good world around him or her looks in their mind, how can we all contribute that it is that way and how that act disturbed this picture is a good way to help a child contemplate the results of their actions, which they might not be able to do on their own. It is also important to praise a child not only when they have receive a good grade, but also when they help out a peer or do some other deed that speaks of good character.