OBSERVATION: George W. Bush on the importance of character education

Yes, we want our children to be smart and successful. But even more, we want them to be good and kind and decent. Yes, our children must learn how to make a living. But even more they must learn how to live, and what to love.

Something is lost when the moral message of schools is mixed and muddled. Many children catch the virus of apathy and cynicism. They lose the ability to make confident judgments – viewing all matters of right and wrong as matters of opinion. Something becomes frozen within them — a capacity for indignation and empathy. You can see it in shrugged shoulders. You can hear it in the watchword of a generation: ‘Whatever.’”

We must tell our children with clarity and certainty — that character gives direction to their gifts and dignity to their lives. That life is too grand and important to be wasted on whims and wants, on getting and keeping. That selfishness is a dark dungeon. That bigotry disfigures the heart. That they were made for better things and higher goals.”

Comments 2

  1. Dear Michael,
    President Bush is correct. Yet, character is developed through a process that transcends “education.” It must include instruction, study, and reflection — which provide knowledge and understanding. It must also include practice or practicum (e.g., “Service Learning”) — which helps us adhere to what we have been taught and to become disciplined. It it requires assessment (coaching, counseling, mentoring, evaluation); this helps us gain confidence and belief in our values (as we see them “working in our life”). Finally, we must have experience, including inevitable failure, in order to be effective leaders and gain wisdom. It’s a life-long journey to become a trustworthy person of competence, character, and commitment. Respectfully, Patrick

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