Jason Baehr, a member of the Grace Brethren Church in Long Beach, Calif. (Lou Huesmann, pastor), was recently featured on the Harvard Educational Publishing Group blog. A portion of his article appears below. Click here to read the complete story.
Educating for Intellectual Character
In his recent book Character Compass, Boston University professor Scott Seider tells the story of three successful Boston-area charter schools each with a strong but relatively unique commitment to character education. To capture some of the differences between these character education programs, Seider employs a distinction between moral character, civic character, and “performance character.” Moral character can be thought of as the character of a good neighbor. It includes qualities like trustworthiness, kindness, and compassion. Civic character is the character of a good citizen, including traits like tolerance, respect, and community-mindedness. Performance character refers to “the qualities necessary to achieve one’s potential in endeavors ranging from art to athletics,” for example, perseverance, ingenuity, and grit (Seider 2012, p. 3).
Seider’s tripartite distinction is helpful and illuminating. Too often the literature in character education equivocates between different concepts of character or between actual character strengths and related but distinct moral or intellectual skills and aptitudes. Being clear about the different dimensions of personal character is an important first step in dispelling some of this conceptual confusion, which in turn is important to the actual practice of character education in schools.