Despite what many would like us to believe, character, personal character, really does matter. It matters for every person, not just elected officials or top-level corporate management. Ordinary, everyday people, need character. Character is that inner quality that comes into play when we’re faced with a choice between right and wrong. A person of character will do the right thing even if no one is looking. Strong character traits such as honesty, respect, caring, responsibility, trustworthiness, and so on don’t just happen; they need to be modeled, taught and developed. And you can’t start too early. Parents need to begin right away working on that monumental task with their children.
But it’s not only parents and extended family members who need to help the next generation develop character. Wisconsin Family Council is a strong proponent of character education in schools. We applaud the statewide efforts in the last few years to add character education to the curricula of both public and private schools in our state. The Wisconsin Character Education Partnership (WCEP) is the umbrella group that is encouraging all our schools to proactively and intentionally teach good, old-fashioned character traits to our kids. This partnership pushes a nationally recognized program that has 11 character traits recognized and taught. Each year the WCEP recognizes different schools that have excelled in character education efforts, and the Department of Public Instruction is helping by highlighting these schools that are award-winners.
Schools don’t have to use the program recommended by WCEP to be part of the character education movement. Rice Lake Schools, for instance, have adopted Character Counts, an excellent all-school initiative.
What’s important is that every school should do something purposeful about helping to build strong, positive character traits into the young people who sit hour after hour, day after day, year after year in their classrooms. What a golden opportunity to bring about real change and real hope in our society–because real character really matters!