Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Educating for Character

The Educating for Character Conference in Singapore yielded many worthwhile reminders on the need to have that one simple thing professionals keep forgetting: Have good manners.

Hal Urban's teachings mirror Stephen Covey's (the creator of the 7 Habits) in that he urges us to return to the hard journey of character ethics i.e. success is a function of deep change from the inside-out, not superficial performances (what Covey called 'personality ethics').

Teachers with character will, among other things:
  • start teaching at the classroom door (i.e. they won't wait until they're inside the class to being imparting good character lessons to their students)

  • teach manners, especially the Golden Rule

  • ensure that the atmosphere is rid of "toxic elements" (such as complaining, gossiping, back-stabbing, etc.)

  • help students to own and honor the rules

  • laugh with their students

  • help students set lifetime goals

  • find something to celebrate every day

  • encourage students to write mission-statements

  • improve their teaching (and their role as teachers) every year

Urban reminded his listeners about the important difference between being STRICT and being MEAN.

He also shared some NLP-related techniques in addressing student boredom and dislike for homework and hand-outs. He encourage students, each time they were about to get a hand-out, to exclaim excitedly, "OH, BOY! ANOTHER FANTASTIC HAND-OUT!!". Also, instead of asking, "Do we HAVE to do homework today?", students should say, "Do we GET to do homework today?!"

Delightful quotes from the conference include:
  • "Goals are dreams with deadlines"
  • "The Golden Rule rules"

  • "No discounts - everyone counts"

  • "No one ever went wrong by being polite"

  • "Comfort Zone - NO PARKING"

TLC is glad to champion the cause of character education at KDU, to promote good manners, a healthy social environment (with less complaining!) for an even better and more fulfilling educational milieu in the college.

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