Character Education is the subject of one of the reports to come out of the DfE this summer. It is a review of some research into Character Education in Schools. The research poses several questions linked to provision, the role of schools in teaching character, the approaches schools use and the challenges schools face.
Rising Stars provide a very good overview of the findings of the report in their document, DFE Publishes Character Education Report.
Is it necessary to have a separate curriculum pathway called Character Education?
What is education if it is not a part of shaping the individual to be honest, have integrity and a respect for others? All learning should stimulate curiosity and allow for problem solving that creates resilient and motivated learners. There are so many opportunities within the curriculum for learners to debate, focus on moral dilemma, learn self-respect and deepen their sense of fairness in order that they can contribute to society.
Subject specific learning is stuffed full of opportunities for pupils to develop their individual and unique characters. English Literature or History allows us to analyse different characters and their influence on people, time and place. Maths and Science give us an awesome look at how the world is shaped and the part we can play in enjoying it, inventing it or using it. Design, art music or drama provide us with a wealth of opportunities for creativity, expression and individuality. PE and sport develop the bodies and minds of learners and teach them how to win and lose, how to embrace competitiveness and how to be a team player. Both the primary and secondary curriculum have the breadth and depth to encompass character education.
Most of the curriculum is currently taught in chunks, where the learning is not an interwoven tapestry that develops the whole person. There are so many opportunities for pupils to develop a whole range of skills that will ensure they become independent and resilient, open to ideas and full of the possibilities that learning can bring. School, especially upper primary and secondary stages often provides pupils with the facts and information they need to pass tests and examinations. There is no other stage in their lives where they will learn in such small bite size segments that appear to be unconnected.
We don’t need an addition to the curriculum; we need to look at how we can shape the curriculum so that it builds character that will last a lifetime.