Benefits of Implementing Character Education at an Alternative High School

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Lawrence, Margot
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Many alternative high school students suffer from low self-esteem, a lack of social skills awareness, a lack of a positive vision and belief in themselves and their life's direction. And unfortunately, in the classroom, when the spotlight is on teaching social skills, often students primarily see their own lack of skills and/or are not able to make the connection to applying them to their own life circumstances. However, character education programs are the implicit attempt to teach social skills and ethical and moral development as a philosophy embedded in the curriculum, rather than in isolation. (Kiltz, 2003) This allows the students to be immersed in the theory and philosophy of character education and also the opportunity to practice and apply their skills – and thus, integrate it into their lives. In researching character education, my findings greatly support the benefits of such an endeavor. Through character education initiatives, schools have the opportunity to support students in "understanding their core values, adopting or committing to them, and then acting upon them in their own lives. (Lickona, 1993) Although most character educational research occurs at elementary and middle schools, it is relevant to all levels of education. Furthermore, when character education is facilitated at a whole-school level and has the support of the community, the results are phenomenal: students' academic achievement levels increase, there less behaviour incidents, risky behaviour is decreased, school climate is more positive and students' self-esteem, self-concept and morale increases.
character education