What Can We Learn From Character Education in America?

A thorough response to this question would take many more words, and hours, than a blog post. However, having just spent a few days in Boston with leading Character Education advocate Karen Bohlin, I wanted to briefly reflect on some of the more pertinent lessons that I took away from the experience. Karen is a... Continue Reading →

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WE Day UK 2019, the Language of Character, and the ‘Double Benefit’ of Youth Social Action

‘You know that if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything’. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, echoed Alexander Hamilton as he called upon those present at the SSE Arena, Wembley, for WE Day UK 2019 to ‘inspire those who stand for nothing, to stand for something – and to stand with you.’... Continue Reading →

Is Character Really Just a Matter of Moral Intuitions?

Jonathan Haidt’s Social Intuitionist Model (SIM) is an innovative, popular scientific theory of morality that challenges character-based understandings of moral behavior. The SIM suggests that morality is primarily an intuitive process. It follows the well-evidenced dual process model of psychology, which specifies that we process our circumstances in two modes: a fast, automatic, unreflective cognitive-emotional... Continue Reading →

Virtues in Time Travel

Photo: Scholars from the disciplines of education, psychology and religious studies examine fragments of the Genizah, Cambridge University Library, February 2019. Those acquainted with character education will know that it is, in essence, nothing new. Indeed, the earliest surviving texts in many world cultures often concern virtues and how they should be acquired by the... Continue Reading →

Traditions at Christmas

This weekend marks the beginning of Advent and, for many, the start of the Christmas season in earnest (though I may have already indulged in an early mince pie or two and the occasional Starbucks ‘seasonal’ drink). This weekend, I’ll be putting up the tree, starting my advent calendar and looking forward to the many... Continue Reading →

Is Character all in the Genes?

A potentially serious threat to the ideas of character development and character education seems to have materialised with the publication of Robert Plomin’s much-publicised book, Blueprint (London: Allen Lane, 2018). The author has featured on BBC’s HardTalk and in a special BBC programme on character education, arguing for an extreme form of genetic determinism regarding... Continue Reading →

Happiness is a Good Book

The mental health and well being of young people is increasingly becoming an educational priority. Recognising that there is now greater awareness of the importance of good mental health in educational settings, Damian Hinds stated in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference this month that mental health education would be introduced in schools ‘over... Continue Reading →

Ofsted, Inspections, and the Turn to Character

The University of Birmingham School’s (UoBS) bespoke character education programme has been singled out for praise after the first Ofsted inspection (May, 2018). In the report, Ofsted highlighted the School’s focus on ‘character education’ and recognised that the programme ensures that leaders promote pupils’ personal development well. Ofsted go on to report that ‘the development... Continue Reading →

Leo Tolstoy, Character Educator

It is Easter Sunday. After a cold winter, the sun shines. The melting snow waters form a muddy puddle in the village street. Two girls, Malásha and Akoúlya, begin to play in their new dresses. When Malásha splashes dirty water on Akoúlya an argument ensues that soon embroils the whole village. As the fathers of... Continue Reading →

Living Within Reason

AQUINAS ON CARDINAL VIRTUES Thomas Aquinas thought that people needed to work to develop four cardinal virtues.  All four help us to keep our balance, cope with frustration and disappointment, stand up for things that matter, persevere when we are inclined to give up, and enjoy the good and beautiful things in our lives. Temperance... Continue Reading →

Trust, Teaching and Character Education

Last week, Andria Zafirakou was announced the winner of the Varkey Foundation’s annual Global Teacher prize. Over the weekend, the Guardian published an interview with her entitled ‘Best teacher in the world Andria Zafirakou: ‘Build trust with your kids – then everything else can happen’. From a character education perspective, this interview is well worth a read. In it, Zafirakou mentions the importance of... Continue Reading →

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