Character Education: Stepping Up the School?s Role

One of the goals of education in general (whether it be in elementary school, high school or higher education) is to develop certain kinds of characters and instill certain kinds of values in students, in the hopes that they will become competent citizens (morally and intellectually). One can read in every school?s mission and vision statements various virtues that guide the school?s policies and regulations, curriculum and pedagogy. In reality, character education is easier to conceptualize than to actually and effectively implement it intra- and extra-curriculum, and in the everyday interactions among the various levels of the school system (i.e. the school board, school administrators, teachers, students, parents).

What is character education? According to Dr. Thomas Lickona (an award-winning developmental psychologist who is at the forefront of character education), character education is ?the deliberate effort to cultivate virtue in its cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dimensions? (Lickona, 2001). Furthermore, he said ?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? (Lickona, 2001 in Elkind & Sweet, 2004).

In the midst of issues concerning children and adolescents, and their experiences related to their schools (i.e. cheating, bullying, hazing, tawuran) in our context (read: Indonesia), it is worthwhile for schools and their administrators as well as teachers to take a moment to (re-) evaluate how effectively they have implemented character education in their curriculum AND in extra-curricular activities.

There are several important points to note and take away from Dr. Lickona?s concept and model of character education: 1. everyone in the school system is a character educator, 2. character education is a developmental process that involves knowledge, feelings and action (and so this provides the foundation of a coherent and comprehensive effort [involving classroom and school-wide strategies] of character education in schools), 3. effective character education improves the school?s sense of community, 4. effective character education does make a difference in students (i.e. good schools with effective character education make a difference in the same sense that good families make a difference), and 5. effective character education employs practices that are research-based.

What should be an ?eye-opener? for educators after having been exposed to Dr. Lickona?s views on character education is that schools must not only emphasize efforts in providing the best curriculum for children, but that extra-curricular activities must also be stepped up and given more respect. At the forefront of education, teachers must realize (if they have not already been aware) how significant their roles are in their students. This is because teachers indirectly engage in character education in ?the way [they] talk, the behaviors [they] model, the conduct [they] tolerate, the deeds [they] encourage, [and] the expectations [they] transmit (Elkind & Sweet, 2004).



Elkind, D. H., & Sweet, F. (2004). How To Do Character Education. Retrieved June 15, 2015

from the Google database on the World Wide Web:

Lickona, T. (2001). What is Effective Character Education? Retrieved June 15, 2015 from the

Google database on the World Wide Web: