The Current Moral Conundrum:
Today’s children are exposed to an overload of information on how many ways life can be lived – both ONLINE and OFFLINE. They are being exposed to news that showcase controversies and conflicts and images and videos of unrealistic standards of living – be it porn or flashy celebrity lifestyles. They are increasingly becoming victims to online sex predators and harassment, and are seeing images and videos of aggressive and violent behaviors.
When mainstream media shows children so many versions of how life can be lived, its difficult for them to understand their self worth and the purpose of their own lives in the context of humanity. So, more than ever before, children of this digital generation need a direction to clarify and help interpret what a good and well lived life means.
The Search for Truth:
In our world of information overload, the search for truth can leave even us adults disillusioned. The truth about the real meaning of our mundane lives can be unsettling and elusive. The search of truth can be a prolonged, life long act of self discovery. Empowering ourselves with a rock solid foundation of a set of personal values and morals equips us to prepare ourselves for such harsh reality. We must create an environment both in the REAL and ONLINE worlds where truth, integrity and courage can flourish.
What are Human Values:
Our personal values are principles, standards and qualities that we consider worthwhile. We strive to live by them each day irrespective of the circumstances and environment around us. Values cause positive change in our lives. The impact of our Values, Decisions and our Beliefs sum up to become our Potential.
What is Character:
Character is the predictable disposition of a human being. It is what makes a man compassionate and considerate for others. It is the ability to know how to act in a crowd under the public eye and also the ability to be your true-self when no one is looking. It is the characteristics of trustworthiness, equanimity and fairness.
What is Character Education Intervention:
Education that inculcates a deep set of personal value system which enables our children to turn into positively connected and contributing adults of the future is Character Education. Character Education is the responsibility of parents, schools and our society because they make it possible for positive outcomes for youth. Character Education which promotes virtues and morals is equally important in impoverished and affluent communities because it helps mitigate risky behaviors and promotes resilience in the face of personal upheaval and disappointment. Character Education might mean the difference respect and regard for humanity and apathy and disregard for collective human potential.
Cultural Shift in Schools and Societies:
A good character education program can bring about change in the attitudes and culture of parents, educators and schools because of the increased engagement and investment of children towards their own future. Children who find the environment around them expects highly of them generally fare better. It helps them to gain ownership of their own personal and professional growth. It in turn improves academics, atmosphere and discipline referrals within the schools.
Setting and Sustaining Long Term Goals:
A Vision is built out of a set of personal values. A Goal is a broad aim at which your efforts are directed. An Objective is a specific and measurable milestone that must be achieved in order to reach the goal. Teens who are guided to have a vision understand how positive and realistic goals (both short and longterm) can contribute to their success. Such teens who develop a mission become committed to doing their best work and become resilient to setbacks.
Our children must be taught and positively mentored about the ethics and integrity to use the technology and the tools at our disposal. They must learn that our thoughts, feelings and behaviors constitute our actions and have far reaching consequences. They must understand how society determines who is morally bankrupt. They must be educated on the consequences of living life as a corrupt politician, an online bully, a corporate cheat or a drugged-up music star.
Science, Math and Technology are important, but without raising fair-minded, ethical human beings, our human intelligence potential might lead to a disastrous future. It our imperative as a society to help our children understand that we don’t just turn any thought that comes into our untamed minds into action without a deliberate judgment on its consequences. Its time we evaluate our own personal value system.
“Most Americans will tell you that character education is a good idea. According to pollsters, 90% of us want schools to teach core moral values.”
Source: A Cry for Character: How a Group of Students Cleaned up Their Rowdy School and Spawned a Wildfire Antidote to the Columbine Effect, Prentice Hall (Paramus, NJ) by Dary Matera, 2001, p. 191.