Leader in Me and Character Education
In their recent paper titled The Character Factor: Measures and Impact on Drive and Prudence, authors Reeves, Venator, and Howard write: “A growing body of empirical research demonstrates that people who possess certain character strengths do better in life in terms of work, earnings, education, and so on, even when taking into account their academic abilities. Smarts matter, but so does character.”
There is now more evidence than ever that suggests character skills could be as crucial as academic skills in terms of important life outcomes. This may be common sense, but policy makers are just now beginning to give this evidence the attention it deserves. For example, the new Every Student Succeeds Act in the United States is asking states to develop a non academic measure of school success, such as tracking growth in student character skills.
The “Ubiquitous” Approach to Character Education
Often times when character education is mentioned in schools, it is thought of as an “add-on” or and “extra” program to try and implement.
As Stephen Covey wrote in the book, The Leader in Me, “Most schools approach character education as a separate, stand-alone topic. For example, they might emphasize one character trait per month, such as responsibility. They find occasional times to talk about responsibility during that month, perhaps at the start of each week in class. The principal might also place something about responsibility in the monthly newsletter or talk about it at an assembly. A poster or two might go up in a hallway.”
The Leader in Me Approach
Rather than recycle this traditional approach, The Leader in Me process looks at character education through a different lens.
First, Leader in Me broadens the definition of character education to include life skills such as planning, communication, time management, and goal setting. There is a competence side to character education, and these skills will help students in the workplace.
Second, schools that implement Leader In Me use a “ubiquitous” solution, meaning that character and competence is built into everything the school does. Character education is not “one more thing” teachers must teach. It can be a part of everything they teach already. Incorporating character-skill development into daily education, rather than occasionally mentioning a single character trait once a week, can make a world of difference in the lives of the students.
Leader in Me develops both competence (including life skills) and character, and does so in a way that truly makes an impact on students.