CHARACTER: When it comes to character, why can’t everyone be more like me?

Everyone I talk to agrees: this country (company, agency or school) needs more people with good old-fashioned character. You know, the kind of people who place ethics above expediency and integrity over personal advantage, people you can count on to do the right thing even if it may cost them more than they want to pay. The problem is it’s …

SUCCESS AND FAILURE MADE SIMPLE by Michael Josephson

SUCCESS AND FAILURE MADE SIMPLE     What is Success?  Few questions have been asked more often by more people. The concept of success and the concept often thought to be its opposite, failure are central to the human quest for meaning and for happiness. Most of us very much want to be successful in our professions, successful in our …

Teachers affect all eternity. You never know where their influence stops.

Teachers affect all eternity. You never know where their influence stops.” – Henry Adams. The day to day tribulations of teaching, especially in often overcrowded and under-resourced public schools, can be so consuming that both the teachers and students forget the monumentally important impact they have on children. Often the impact goes unnoticed but it occurs. A great teacher teaches …

Greatest Quotations on Mothers and Motherhood

— compiled by Michael Josephson — All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. ~ Abraham Lincoln The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests. ~ Author Unknown An ounce …

Memo From Michael: A Quick Note From Paris

I haven’t posted in a while, as I have been focused on some important personal matters, including a sad and ugly lawsuit my family filed against the Archer School for Girls and its head of school, Elizabeth English. (Those interested in status see JosephsonvsArcher.com. My hope to reform the law and assure that private school administrators can be held publicly accountable …

There are over 300,000 more black men in college than in prison, but you wouldn’t know this watching cable or network news? How come?

In the decade from 1999-2000 to 2009-2010, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black students increased by 53 percent, and the number awarded to Hispanic students increased by 87 percent. In 2009–10, Black students earned 10 percent and Hispanics earned 9 percent of all bachelor’s degrees conferred, versus the 9 and 6 percent, respectively, earned in 1999–2000” (NCES, 2012).

COMMENTARY 893.2: Tyranny of the Minority

According to a survey of parents, 93 percent want schools to teach basic values like honesty and respect. The problem is, schools are left to contend with the 7 percent who disagree. In any enterprise that seeks to avoid conflict and find consensus, that small minority may often dictate policy. Too often, aggressive objectors bully administrators into quick surrender with …

COMMENTARY 893.1: A Parable About Leadership

Listening to politicians’ nasty rhetoric, one might think that leadership has to be aggressive and confrontational, but consider this parable about leadership. A student assigned to write an essay about an effective leader wrote this story: “I’ve been taking a bus to school for years. Most passengers keep to themselves and no one ever talks to anyone else.

COMMENTARY 872.2: Advice for Parents of Middle Schoolers

First, remember, with emerging demands for independence, worries about peer acceptance, pressures of school and extracurricular activities, and a continuous search for self-identity, adolescents are on a physical and emotional roller coaster. Like every generation before them (including yours), young teens are often arrogant and over-confident about their knowledge and your ignorance, and deeply insecure about most other things. They …

VIDEO: Teen knows what he wants to be when he grows up. He wants to be happy.

Everyone knows that young people need role models. But what is amazing and uplifting is how many incredible kid role models there are. This video is a must-see, especially for educators — not only because the topic of this 13-year-old boy’s message is about education, but because of his message about happiness. What a great reminder to never underestimate young …

A Cost-Free Way to Help

Regular readers know that the Josephson Institute (my life’s work since 1987) is really struggling this year. A few of you have made donations and I am grateful. I hope more of you will, but there is another way you can help without depleting your wallet. The Institute’s creative director, Tony Baer, came up with a great way everyone can …

My Year-End Plea and an Update on Josephson Institute Activities

My Dear Readers: In this note I get to do two things — one I love to do, and another I’m not so crazy about. The part I love is to provide you with a brief summary of the Josephson Institute’s achievements in 2013. Some of you may not be aware of the Institute’s range of activities and achievements, and …

Memo From Michael: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

There is always, always something to be thankful about. Gratitude should be felt and experienced sincerely, expressed generously and received graciously. If you want to be on speaking terms with happiness, learn the language of gratitude.

What Do Teens Really Value? A Josephson Institute survey of more than 20,000 high school students reveals surprising information about their values.

Teens Place a Very High Value on Ethics and Good Moral Character. Students were presented with a long list of options and were asked to indicate how important each item was to them. Here are the highlights of the percentages that rated the item as very important or essential: Being treated with respect – 99 percent. Having good moral character …

MEMO From Michael: Youth Violence and Bullying

Just last month in a weekly memo I asked if violence and mass killings had become our new reality. That was prompted by the mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard. Since then, the headlines have continued to shock and sadden us with news of seemingly random acts of violence. Some might ask: Since when has the news media not brought us …

Sneak Peek at Results of Educators’ Survey

(updated 12/4/13) Almost 4,500 educators (including 2426 teachers, 616 principals, 411 school counselors, 225 superintendents,  and 79 school board members)  have already taken the new Josephson Institute survey on the state of education in America. (If you haven’t already, please take the survey here and please share this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JIEducatorSurvey on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere to encourage others to take it as well — the …

Eight Sentences That Changed the World: The Aspen Declaration

In July 1992, the nonprofit Josephson Institute of Ethics hosted a 3-day summit of prominent youth leaders, educators and character education scholars in Aspen, Colorado. The result was this declaration, which provided the guiding principles for the CHARACTER COUNTS! movement that currently reaches about 8 million young people. It is clear that the eight sentences making up the Declaration is as …

MEMO From Michael: Happy CHARACTER COUNTS! Week!

I am in Washington, D.C., looking out my hotel window at the Washington Monument, which is undergoing renovation and shrouded in scaffolding. I’m here for a meeting of the Josephson Institute’s Board of Governors. Two important things happened in Congress last night. Of course you know that both the Senate and House finally approved a budget (for a few months) …

What Do Educators Think About Education in America? (Preliminary Report #2 on our Survey Results)

Summary. We surveyed more than 2,500 educators (board members, superintendents, principals, teachers, counselors and support staff) and asked them to give their opinions on the trends in education in the past five years. (Are you an educator? Please take the survey here if you haven’t already.) Here are some of the survey results so far. What’s Going Well. Majority of educators believe …

MEMO From Michael: Sneak Peek – Some Surprising Preliminary Results of Our Educators’ Survey

(Updated 11/26/13) Nearly 4500 educators (76 Board members, 225 superintendents, 616 principals, 2414 teachers and 406 school counselors) have already taken the new Josephson Institute survey on the state of education in America. (If you haven’t already, please take the survey here and please share this link https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JIEducatorSurvey on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere to encourage others to take it as well — …

MEMO From Michael: Violence and Mass Killings: Our New Reality?

What a sad irony that right after re-living the tragedies of the 9/11 terrorist attacks we are confronted with another senseless mass shooting, resulting in 12 deaths and eight injuries at the Washington Navy Yard. And while we are digesting that, 13 people were shot in a Chicago, apparently the result of a random shooting by a roving gang. Do …

MEMO From Michael: 9/11, Colombia, New Survey on Education

Thoughts on September 11 Re-experiencing the 9/11 attacks is always a traumatic experience for me. I’ve posted several videos I think you will find worth your time. One cannot think about this shocking proof of our vulnerability without some anxiety and deep sorrow for the loss of life and of our innocent naiveté about our safety. Two images are etched …