A new poll of teachers in the United Kingdom shows the vast majority believe that a greater focus on character education would have a positive influence on student academics.
Researchers with Populus and the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues asked 450 working teachers about the potential impact of more character education in schools, and defined character education as developing “positive strengths such as honesty, confidence, and critical thinking,” Phys.org reports.
The survey also asked whether it’s important for students to “understand what is ethically important in difficult situations and how to choose the right course of action.”
Researchers questioned teachers in a wide variety of British schools, from public schools to faith-based schools to academy, special, alternative and independent schools. They also sampled educators from different seniority levels. Overall, 80 percent of teachers across the UK agreed that character education is important.
“This poll provides a further indication from teachers that a greater focus on character education in schools would not only help to develop the skills young people need when venturing out into the work world, but also help to improve academic achievement,” said James Arthur, Jubilee Centre director.
According to Phys.org:
The survey findings show that whilst only 1 in 3 teachers are aware of their school having a specific character education policy in place, provision for character development is currently delivered through a number of routes.
The two most commonly reported by teachers were PSHE/ Citizenship classes (58 percent), and as part of the 'whole-school ethos' (48 percent).
However, when asked where they thought such provision should be delivered to have the greatest effect, whole-school ethos was the most popular option at 65 percent, with the other two most popular responses being PSHE/ Citizenship (56 percent), and through all curriculum subjects (47 percent).
“These findings also corroborate previous Jubilee Centre research that has highlighted the transformational impact that placing character at the heart of a school’s ethos can have,” Arthur said.
The Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture has worked closely with the UK-based Jubilee Center. While we can celebrate the greater openness to character education within UK schools, one would also have to caution against making a utilitarian argument for character education. Implicit in character is the “story of living for a purpose that is greater than the self. Though this purpose resides deeply within, its origins are outside the self and so it beckons one forward, channeling one’s passions to mostly quiet acts of devotion, heroism, sacrifice, and achievement.”
Teachers and principals working to strengthen moral and citizenship formation in their students can find information and strategies at the UK’s The Jubilee Centre. In The Jubilee Centre’s own words, the following illustrates how the centre views it work. “The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. The Centre is a leading informant on policy and practice through its extensive range of projects contributes to a renewal of character virtues in both individuals and society.”