2015 BLOG ASSIGNMENT #7

Here is the original article.

Here are the student reactions to the article.

Here is a social criticism piece about the article.

Now you weigh in: should character be taught in schools? If so, how would that look like? (To make it even more meaningful: IPoly staff and admin are currently in the midst of developing a similar program like KIPP, to be operational and applicable this school year. Your rational, thoughtful, realistic feedback on such a program may be taken back to the table and seriously considered.)

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12 Comments

  1. Good character is definitely something that is lacking among both students and society as a whole. The world is cruel and people tend to get stepped on, but for some reason only a fair few seem to bounce back from such a fate nowadays. It appears that people, students and adults alike, just don’t have that “rugged individualism”, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of attitude that President Hoover was so fond of swearing by back in the early days of the Depression. And as desperately as society today needs that kind of attitude adjustment, school just isn’t the place to teach it. Character is a self-taught development. It’s a delicate culmination of a person’s experiences and relationships. Experiences like that can’t be taught in a classroom. But that’s what schools like KIPP and Riverdale are attempting to do. However, by measuring and quantifying and grading these qualities, not only are schools almost degrading the qualities themselves, but they aren’t really teaching them to students either. Understanding the qualities themselves is important, but teaching them in school doesn’t make character. That’s not to say it isn’t a great idea to teach students those qualities. It’s still important to help students understand the importance and the application of good qualities. But that’s not what character is. Character is self-exploration. It’s about the individual and growth as a person in society.

  2. “Debate and fighting leads to discovery and cooperation. If we are all starting with the same character traits and ideas of what is wrong and right, there is no room to discover new ideas or change the way people see things…” To build upon character, I believe it is something we should learn on our own. How can we be taught by teachers on how to build ourselves to be better characters when we should be able to do it on our own. If teachers were to teach us on, “building a better character” it would probably end up in a direction where the students will gradually accept this and others will not. But what does it take for students or society to become a better character? I think looking up to others, being patient with yourself, and to never doubt yourself are some important key items to becoming a better you. The fact that KIPP and other places are attempting to do this, I believe this is something that should be optional than be placed upon, on both students and/or society. So, what do I say on schools building a new character. I say 85% no and 15% yes. 85 percent because this would probably end up to be a waste of time at school and education wise. 15 percent because if students start to be more dysfunctional, confused, and misbehaving then maybe those are the right times to use character building. Maybe these types of things should be offered to students, or even adults who are confused with who they are, what’s their purpose, and why they act the way they do.

  3. I believe character should be lightly taught in school, however character cannot necessarily be completely taught in the classroom. To further explain, schools should touch upon the subjects and ideas such as fairness, generosity, and tolerance are key factors for the working force even if character is more explored and gained with individual experiences rather than a class room environment. The school can introduce character but not force it on others. The classroom could be a little “nudge” in the right direction or even better, to explore both sides and the consequences. The teacher could just bring the topic up and let the students decide or provide opportunities to explore the topics. Yes, youth today should build better character so that they aren’t completely hated in the future however, learning character in school won’t have the expected impact or truly let the students become their own individuals.
    Teaching in schools does have good intentions and some potential to show character to students. It will not however, impact the students greatly in a short amount of years. Small character discussions would have to occur slowly over time in order to not bombard the students with the full force. Shoving ideas down someone’s throat rarely gives any positive feedback. Regarding Riverdale, it is a bit ill thought out to grade students on character. Grading gives the option that they will only act correctly because of obligation and it fails to hit the point for teaching character in school. Character is an individual, not a perfect set of students. Expecting them all to be the same is unrealistic. Teachers can teach the students all they want about character; however it does not mean that the students will learn.
    Regarding the article’s title “Does Failure Lead to Success” there is a difference between failure and struggle. To struggle is to have difficulty but to have the ability to keep persevering. To fail is to give up and not continue.

  4. “Be bold. Be brilliant” is a phrase that educators try so desperately to instill in their students. However, just because they are given an inspirational quote, does not mean they will change the world or magically become better people or even students. Society is slowly losing its character one generation at a time. Students feel the need to please not only their teachers but, also parents and peers. However, by trying to please everyone, character gets lost, it often slips through the cracks, individuals often get led astray, and once one is lost, it’s incredibly difficult to get back.

    The concept of teaching character and issuing “character report cards” like the Riverdale and KIPP schools is extremely ludicrous. This concept goes “hand-in-hand” with that of inspirational quotes that educators throw at their students today, reminding students of these attributes does nothing. If individuals such as educators and parents want the next generation to develop character, they have to give them the opportunity to foster it. Character is one’s morals, one’s beliefs as a human being. It is something that everyone develops but at different points in life. Character can come out of various situations, such as losing a friend or the death of a loved one.

    On a personal note, I’m young; I’m making everything up as I go. I have no idea what I’m doing, but that’s what life’s all about? The whole purpose of life is to make mistakes because that’s how a character develops. Even though I’m young, I know one thing for sure, “Character isn’t what you have, it’s who you are.”

  5. Character is something everyone grows up with. It’s what makes them who they are. Teachers encourage students to be potentially great. Teachers are not there to teach students about character, they are there to teach subjects that are required to be taught. The society we live in now is messed up and it’s hard to find someone with genuine character. If everyone had the same character then everyone would have a similar mindset. It’s good to have different character, because it can help with opinions and ideas.
    The idea of a character report card is pathetic. Every student is different in their own way. Everyone is raised differently and has a different character.
    If students are going to be graded on character I think the teacher needs to give the students time to develop a good character. It’s like giving a student time to do a project.

    To me, I know that I’m still developing a character of my own. I’m still growing up and I make mistakes. I learn from my mistakes and my mistakes do not say who I am, it is my character. As I grow to become a woman, my character either develops or it stays the same.

  6. Always Getting What You Want Isn’t Such a Good Thing

    Paul Tough’s article, “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” discusses the importance of teaching character in school. The general argument made by Dominic Randolph, headmaster of Riverdale County School, and David Levin, the co-founder of the KIPP schools in New York City in this article is that character measures success more than grades or IQ tests. More specifically, the article argues that students who scored higher on a Grit Test, a test measuring dedication and devotion, were most likely to be successful and follow through with what they started. Randolph explains that, “The idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure.” In this passage, Randolph is suggesting that failure is the key to success. In conclusion, the article’s belief is that teaching character at schools and teaching kids that you won’t always get what you want is important to keeping them on the right track for their futures.

    In my view, the article is right, because I feel that getting good grades doesn’t necessarily mean you will be successful in the future. More specifically, I believe that not being successful in getting what you want makes you more determined to reach your goal the next time. For example, if you always get your way and you’re always successful in school without even trying, when you reach a difficulty you won’t know what to do. This makes it easier to give up. Although critics might object that teaching character in schools is a way of imposing the teachers’ values onto the kids, I maintain that, if done properly, teaching children valuable life lessons could create more successful students. Therefore, I conclude that schools should find a way to teach character without interrupting the teachings of core classes.

  7. “Charcter isn’t Quantifiable”
    The article, “What If The Secret To Success Is Failure?” by Paul Toph, makes the claim that not only should character be taught in school, but that it is effective in raising the next generation. He writes of a specific example, Juaquin Bennet, in which the character report card successfully helped a student get back on the right track. In the end, Toph believes that in addition to traditional education, character should be taught to students to make them more successful in life.
    I agree with the article in the sense that something about today’s education needs to change. However I cannot agree that character should be tracked and quantified by teachers. In the truest sense, I do not believe that it is possible to quantify something along the lines of character and morality.
    Good character is easy to fake, acting sincere destroys the whole “grading scale” because the person is lying which would mark you down, when in reality, the action of being sincere is what’s noted, giving a false reading of sorts. Although the article gives a couple examples of teaching character as effective, that is just confirmation bias. Like the example i gave before, pretending to be sincere would give you a good mark when it should give the opposite. And likewise, obtaining a good grade is what students aim for and gives a selfish incentive which itself should be marked down. If the goal is to improve students character, then a teacher should personally make effort into improving character rather than using a quantifiable scale.
    Therefore, the idea of judging a student’s character is a step in the right direction and sounds well on paper but is not realistic. Judging character is not effective or efficient in teaching character or in preparing students for the real world.

  8. If At First You Don’t Succeed: Try and Try Again

    I strongly believe that if we want to build character within students today, we should add value to the lessons that are taught in school. While I think it is admirable that educators are finding innovative ways of teaching students beyond traditional subjects, I don’t think their current methods are the best way to go. By grading students on their character, I feel that students will only feel inclined to act with strong character simply to get a good grade, thus creating students that leave their “good character” in the school locker along with the rest of their books and school supplies at the end of a school day.

    Character shouldn’t be something that is put upon students; it should be something that comes along with personal experience and times of trial and error. That is why I think that if schools want students with character, they should give students more responsibility in how they build themselves up. Students should have a character based on how THEY feel rather than what is accepted as good character in society. The goal is not to create superficial people that ooze fake smiles and charisma; it is to create people with genuine passion, curiosity, and emotional intelligence.

    A way that I think would help accomplish building better character is by letting the students become the navigators of their own education. I am not saying that we should rid schools of common core, but instead of providing students with a pile of assignments, they should be given the opportunity to create their own assignments and projects. By doing this, students would not only feel motivated in finishing a project that they designed, but they learn to think for themselves rather than waiting for a teacher to guide them by the hand. And even if their assignment/project fails in showing the desired results, there should be discussion in why they think they failed and things they can to do to improve. This would teach them to not give up and to keep trying until they get the results they are aiming for.

  9. In my personal opinion, character is not something that should taught in schools. Character is something that cannot be taught, but instead it is self-taught through experience. You don’t know how to deal with something unless you have gone through it. Everyone handles and reacts to things differently, each developing character in their own way. That’s what makes us individuals. We need room to discover and learn from our mistakes. A school environment that grades and teaches you how you should behave is not the correct place for this.
    Schools like Riverdale have adopted a system called KIPP that teaches and grades students based on their character. I believe that having a system like this will mentally degrade students by giving them something else to stress about. The last thing a student would want is to be graded based on how well they behave. Good character is more of an opinion or a moral, not whatever a teacher tells you it is. You can’t give a student a bad grade because they have different morals. If a system like this were to be adopted at ipoly or any other school, it should be optional for those that feel like they need help developing certain characteristics.

  10. The article “What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?” suggesting to teach character in school is in my opinion partially a good idea. Parents are always wondering why their child isn’t doing well in school, and this may be the answer.

    This article also relates to the writing prompt I had to respond to last week. It shared an excerpt about how everyone in America is so hungry for success. If we truly want our future generations to thrive in this success hungry world, then we have to teach character. It is apparent that our methods now a days aren’t very effective. Teachers tell students that the C they received on their paper is good enough, but their parents scold them for not getting an A, or take their anger up to the teacher or administrators.

    In the second article students responded that character cannot simply be taught in class and will automatically reshape a student. Character is an intangible idea, but the idea to teach it in school is to make it tangible.

    However to assess and measure character is a different story.
    I agree with the many students that say a person’s character can be based on multiple factors that simply can’t be controlled in school or under the control of the student themselves. Parental influence, experience with friends, and a student’s personal judgment can shape their character. It is immeasurable and wouldn’t be fair to assess at all.

    What I want to propose is not to teach and assess a student’s character, but to instill their minds the ideas of what makes up a “good character.” Openly discussing what character traits will help make them become more successful later on in life will help make the idea of character more tangible to students. I feel this will help students form the picture of good character in their mind. From there it would be the student’s job to choose whether or not they need to change how they perform in certain areas of their life. This would will be more effective than saying if you are doing this it means you are showing this. It would give them the sense that they are building their own good character that is personalized for themselves.

  11. Developing real character is something you get from experience, not in a classroom. I do understand why they would want to teach it because it is a good concept. However, it can easily backfire. Having a character report card is another thing students will have to worry about. Even Randolph said it made him nervous because he didn’t want students to try to study for this, because character isn’t something you can learn. In the second article, “Should Character Be Taught? Students Weigh In”, one student mentions that if teachers aren’t actually dedicated into helping students then that’s another issue and wasted time. Teachers probably won’t be committed to this because they do have other things to grade and curriculums to develop.
    I believe that it might possibly work in schools where privileged kids go. Since they probably won’t have any difficult experiences in which they can develop a strong character. The first article, “What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?” , mentions that privileged high school students don’t really know how to overcome a crisis. These students are facing so much pressure from everyone and they basically cannot fail, and when they do hit a bump they don’t know how to handle it. A student commented that, “Character needs to built up from relationships with family and friends at an early age”, but what if students come from a broken family? Then who will teach them good character traits and morals?
    Possibly teaching children at a young age would be the most beneficial. Then they would have an idea of what are some good character traits. Randolph even explained his own experience and he ultimately left school and went into the real world. That is when he said he strengthen his character, by having his own experiences and struggles. Teaching students in high school might just cause more pressure but maybe teaching students at a younger age could help the students.

  12. It has been seen that students with a sense of good character tend to do better in school, are often much happier, are often well liked, and often excel in general. The main article talked about a school, KIPP, whose goal is to help students develop both character wise and academically. Programs like KIPP due have their benefits, teaching students good character while in school will prepare them for life in the future. If someone who has poor character, and is rude, mean, and unfriendly, were to try and apply for a job, potential employers would be incredibly turned off, not hire them, and no one will like them in life.
    However, if good character is something that is going to be taught in school it should be the very basics and extremely minimal. “Good character” in school takes away from it actually being good character. It really isn’t something that you can teach in a classroom. It’s more of a developed and acquired skill that you learn through life experiences, and it has to be practiced willingly on the own time of students. The idea of actually getting graded on character is ridiculous to me, and entirely unfair. Everyone has different personalities and does things differently, and there is no example of someone who has perfect character, because we all have our faults, which is why it really isn’t able to be assessed. Character is something that if a student wants to truly have, then they will. Due to this, I think if it were to begin being taught in school, it shouldn’t really be seen as something that can be graded on, and shouldn’t be a core part of school, but rather a school goal than an academic goal.
    If you have to be taught good character, it really isn’t being yourself as a person. Also, if it were to be taught in school, students wouldn’t really care for it as much, and not take it seriously. They might also be turned off by it, push it farther away, and worsen their character simply because of the fact that it can be associated with school, which it shouldn’t be.

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