I just came across an interesting document titled “Sensible Solutions For Safe Schools” that suggests the number one way to stem violence in schools is to ‘put character in the curriculum.’ A wonderful suggestion I think. The problem statement put forward on page 10 of that report made me wonder why more education policy makers in State Capitals and Washington DC don’t recognize the problem they are causing with their Common Core and Race to the Top policies?
In the United States, educators are considered “highly qualified” based solely on their content knowledge. As society evolves, there is a need for training the “whole child,” which encompasses academics, social skills, character building, physical and emotional health, and in some instances, survival. If we continue to teach the way we always have, many students will be “left behind,” not because they lack the academic skills, but because they do not possess the ability to care for and protect themselves and others. Ultimately, the students of today will be our leaders for tomorrow, and it becomes the responsibility of the classroom educator to reach not just the mind, but theheart of each student with whom s/he comes in contact.
Our current education system seems to value only what it can measure. Year after year, educators are required to give more assessments in more subjects more frequently. Yet, all of the attention being paid to this one small part of education suggests that knowledge is the primary goal of education. This assumption comes at the cost of the rest of the child, and ignores the fact that knowledge is a means to an end, and not an end in of itself. Gandhi once wrote “without the right education, the community will not only remain backward, but become increasingly so… [Knowledge of academic content is] essential in the world of today. Without [it] one is crippled. [But] it is also necessary to learn how to put the knowledge thus acquired to proper use.” Just as we do not expect students to learn math, science, language, and other skills on their own, we cannot expect them to also learn character and peace creation on their own. If we value character development and peace creation as much as we value math and language arts, we need to teach them.