Key to Improving School Performance Identified
How many hours a week does a child need to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic? What if they spent an hour a week learning character?
A new study of 20 elementary schools has found that a program focused focused on building character significantly improves school quality -- measured by indicators such as safe environment; involvement and satisfaction of students, teachers, and parents; student support; continuous improvement; and standards-based learning. The study was conducted by Brian Flay of Oregon State University.
Previous studies showed a 9% improvement in reading and math skills based on state tests, as well as 72% fewer suspensions and 15% less absenteeism. The newest study examines schools in Hawaii that implemented the Positive Action program from 2002-2003 through the 2005-2006 school years, including racially/ethnically diverse schools which were relatively underperforming schools.
Positive Action consists of six educational units, which progressively build the social and emotional skills children need to reduce the frictions and upsets that diminish learning effectiveness. The concepts covered in the program build progressively from the self to the social being:
- Self-concept and Self-worth
- Healthy Body and Mind
- Actions for Managing Yourself Responsibly
- Actions for Getting Along with Others
- Actions for Being Honest with Yourself and Others
- Actions for Improving Yourself Continually
Do We Need Schools Teaching Kids Character?
Is this the educational miracle we all hope for? Is it worth donating an hour a week out of the academic program to help the kids that have fallen through the social network due to so many potential causes: absent role models, family stress, parents whose work barely makes ends meet and leaves no time for passing character on to the next generation? Especially if that will help all kids to learn the reading, writing, and arithmetic they need to be successful?
As reassuring as it may be to prove scientifically what good parents have always suspected, one still cannot help thinking: "Why do we need the schools to teach our kids character?" Is it not a parents' job to teach kids character ? Should we take it a step backwards, and teach potential parents how to teach their kids about self-esteem, and getting along with others, and living up to their potential in life?
What do you think? Should schools teach character if it is scientifically proven that it helps kids learn?
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