Character education in many elementary schools bores children. It affects them the same way the freshman story affected me and my college friends. We promised that no one could make history more boring than our teacher. On special occasions, however, the professor changed gears. He employed a teaching method that turned bland into exciting in an instant. That same method can make character education a topic that young children are excited about. In fact, character education teachers can make young children ask for more by regularly using the method our college professor saved for special occasions.
Teachers can easily transform the blah of today into the bling of tomorrow.
Character education lesson plans often begin with the regular, boring teaching method of our college history professor.
the teacher speaks. In this case, the teacher talks about character education. Teachers get free character education lesson plans wherever they can find them and follow instructions like these found online:
· Talk about what respect sounds like.
· Talk to students about what respect looks like.
Talk about respectful facial expressions.
· Talk to them about the tone of voice that shows respect.
· Talk to students about respectful body language.
Character education teachers talk, talk, talk. As they speak, the young children react as we regularly did in college history class. They assume boring positions, wishing the subject didn’t exist.
Most young children, like many college freshmen, have not yet developed the skills necessary to learn with the talking teacher method. They did not learn to walk by having the Mother talk to them about what it is like to walk. They did not learn to speak by having their father explain to them what speaking sounds like. Talking didn’t train them to go to the bathroom either. However, character education lesson plans urge the teacher to talk, and talk, and talk.
“After you’ve explained,” continue with character education lesson plans like above, “discuss respect with your students.”
the teacher argues. Our university professor also tried it. After talking about history, he tried to engage us in the discussion. Many of us, awakened from talk-induced naps, were not ready or able to engage in discussion.
Children ages three to eight will no longer be ready to discuss character education after their talk with the teacher. Did they learn to walk, talk and feed themselves by discussing it with their parents? No. Despite that, character education lesson plans encourage the teacher to discuss, and discuss, and discuss.
Such an approach is boring for any age. It’s blah, and no one enjoys blah character education.
bling of tomorrow
Character education lesson plans can be changed overnight if teachers are willing. If you are a character education teacher and truly care about your students, you can make that change happen. How?
Introduce our history teacher’s “special occasion” method, and blah turns to bling. The story catches the light, sparkles and becomes desirable.
What method can work such a transformation? What secret weapon made the story exciting on special occasions?
· Did you show a video? No. I could have, but history videos can be just as tedious as history lectures.
· Did you ask us to represent historical moments? No. We were bored with historical figures as he had presented them, and would have had no heart for role-playing.
Our college professor used a storybook.
Imagine it. Our history teacher read a storybook on special occasions. He did not look for any book and tried to extract the story from it. He used a book that was written for the purpose of expressing an accurate story in an easy-to-swallow format. The book was ambrosia for students who saw history as a boring and lifeless subject. We loved stories like the one about Columbus that started like this.
“On September 9, 1492, when the last land was hidden on the horizon, Christopher Columbus began keeping two logs. One log, which he kept secret, was an actual calculation of his course and distance. The other was a falsified account of the ship’s navigation. Location written so the crew won’t be scared by sailing so far from land.” Source: Samuel E. Morrison, Christopher Columbus (Boston: Mentor, 1955), p. 36.
We were excited by history when it was packaged in story format, and character education excites young children when it is packaged in stories written with purpose.
Tried and true technique
For a long time, stories have been considered a proven technique for presenting information. The technique has proven especially good and desirable for use with young children. Stories help them learn and remember valuable information.
Visit a famous bookstore on the Internet, type the word “potty” and what do you find? Find dozens of books that use stories to teach toddlers how to use the bathroom and get out of diapers. Look for books on “brushing your teeth” and you’ll get similar results. Type “swimming” and a duckling named Stewie will teach them water safety.
Stories written with the express purpose of teaching a specific topic (written with a purpose) employ a method that has been used since ancient times, because it works!
Character education that excites young children is based on books. The books allow children to filter the stories through their own imaginations and identify with the characters as they learn high moral values. Books make character education more desirable and memorable than any other vehicle the teacher can use.