BCIS In Focus - December 2015
Dear Parents, Colleagues, and Friends of BCIS,
I want to use this "In Focus" to share with everyone what highly effective schools do to advance character education, and why it all matters. Walter Lippman, an American writer said that good character and ethical behavior are not transmitted through our genes, rather we have to work at them. William James, an American philosopher contributes to this idea by telling us that we are who we are as a result of habits that we cultivate during the course of our lives, particularly during our formative years.
The integration throughout a school's educational program of the core ethical values of respect, responsibility, honor, compassion, courage and empathy, to name a few, is essential to the moral development of everyone in the learning community (students, staff, parents). Our most important responsibility is to do all that we can to enable each child to be a person of great integrity, and to understand that we all have an obligation to contribute to the common good.
Core ethical values are widely shared, pivotally important beliefs that form the basis of good character. They meet the tests of reversibility (i.e.m Would you want to be treated this way?) and universality (Would you want all persons to act this way in a similar situation?) Core values tend to be interpersonal in nature (how we act with and towards others) rather than personal (relating to individual issues). They may be defined as the basic principles, characteristics, and ideals that we use to make decisions and judgments in our lives. Many people will add to this definition stating that they are unchanging, essential tenets by which all of us are obliged to live.
Core ethical values are moral and ethical in their nature. That is, they should deal with issues of right and wrong, and they are a matter of obligation. They do not relate to issues of personal preference, taste, or opinion. They affirm our human dignity, help us to maintain our rights and the rights of others, and nurture the character development of young people. These values are educationally significant because they help students achieve academic success and prepare them to be good citizens, productive workers, and ethical human beings. Core ethical values define who we are, they exemplify our traits.
Character traits are the inner qualities of an individual that are exemplified in behaviors or incline the will to choose right over wrong. Character traits are the basic features of who we are, on our own, in relationship with others, and through our relationships with others within our community, the nation, and the world.
The goal of high-performing schools is to make core ethical values an integral part of the school experience. This includes modeling ethical behavior, open dialogue about ideas and issues that have moral significance, relationship building based on relational trust, celebrating the school's core ethical values and guiding principles, and shared standards of ethical conduct.
I encourage you and your family, you and your colleagues to engage in the following exercise:
BCIS is dedicated to helping every member of the school community to be a person of integrity and to contribute in significant, timely ways to the common good. It is to that end e focus on both the cognitive and the affective development of our students. This mission is most effectively achieved when the school and the parents work as partners in the education and moral development of the young.