Character education is based on the idea of teaching and strengthening good core values such as responsibility, respect, empathy, integrity, compassion.
It is also about spotlighting, encouraging, and celebrating the positive natural inherent qualities that children come into this world with.
Too often, children are taught to ignore their own intuition, suppress or dismiss their emotions, and doubt their own inner knowing in order to conform to the agenda of current society. They are being shown that “success” is based on your looks, your job, your bank account, your social media status. They are being programmed that their self-worth comes from the outside.
This leads to confusion and mistrust of one’s own self, and a lack of self-esteem and esteem for others, and all that follows this.
The goal of character education is to raise children to become secure and tuned in to themselves and what they can do- seeing themselves as the powerful, loving, and intelligent beings that they are, and identifying and enhancing their unique contribution to the planet.
WHY DO WE NEED CHARACTER EDUCATION?
Children today spend an average of 5.5 hours a day involved in media activities such as tv, video games, and social internet sites and apps. Since the 1950’s, more than 3,500 documented studies and Joint Statements issued by scientific and public health communities (American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) and reports from the Federal Trade Commission prove the causal connection between media violence and its negative effects on behaviors including increased aggression, violent behaviors and the inability to discriminate between real life and entertainment violence. The United States Senate Judiciary Committee concludes: “The effect of media violence on our children is no longer open to debate.”
Research indicates that no electronic medium’s effects are all good or all bad, but the content makes all the difference. According to the Centers for Disease Control, media violence is the single key factor in an escalating violent crime rate.
Emotional intelligence is self-awareness. What are your feelings and why are you feeling that way? Although this can be very difficult for some, once a person begins to understand their own self, they can begin to develop other emotional skills, which leads to more emotional intelligence. There are some patterns that block the use of a person’s emotional intelligence: fear and worry, avoiding pain, negative self-image, unrealistic expectations, and blaming others. When these blocks occur and emotional intelligence isn’t used, people end up acting in unsuccessful ways. The goal is to be more informed about emotions as your own personal guidance system. This should be a part of the educational landscape.
Brain-based learning is based on how the brain functions, and engages in storing new information. Some core principles of brain-based learning include use of patterning to create meaning, involvement of emotions in learning, engaging the whole physiology, and use of embedding facts in natural and spatial memory.
The search for meaningful information – or a sense of purpose – is the driving force that motivates us to learn. Relevant learning (as opposed to solely behavioral reward and punishment) boosts the brainpower of students and their ability to participate in a thinking environment on issues that affect their lives and the choices they make.
Higher level thinking skills more directly engage the global operations of the brain. When learning includes the senses and emotions, overall learning is dispersed throughout brain cells and creates more balance in the brain. This greatly reduces stress on specific brain cells while engaging students in exciting discussion and meaningful learning.
Group discussion in the classroom has been proven to be extremely useful for teachers as well as students. Groups can trigger multiple ways of interacting and form a natural self-organization of the group. Stanford research further confirms that there is a definite and critical link between verbal interaction and learning. When all students are encouraged to become involved and contribute their own experiences to the discussion, each student can be a learner and each can be a teacher.
WHY IS IT THE MUSIC?
Rhythm, melody and harmony stimulate several areas of the brain important to emotion. Isolated tones, scales and simple tonal sequences have all been found to have impact. Research shows that musical arts enhance the cognitive process and greatly affect the ability to learn by focusing thinking and boosting creativity.
ALPHA and THETA brain waves create calm and relaxation which are more conducive to memory and enhanced creativity than normal brain wave function (BETA). Therefore, music can be used with great validity as a teaching tool in the classroom to aid in the learning process. The “musical communication” of content information engages the attention of the student in ways that text books alone cannot.
Because music is auditory (hearing), kinesthetic/tactile (movement), and tactual (elicits emotion), it stimulates cognitive function. Adding the printed word (song lyrics), music also stimulates the visual modality. Through emotion and patterning, music provides deeper meaning for the individual and therefore enhances the learning process. Repetitive musical learning formats (songs, poems, rhymes) are dynamic and effective vehicles for cumulative learning.
A large portion of all information processed by the brain comes in through our ears! The brain commonly stores information with mental strategies, such as rhymes. This is an invaluable way for the brain to remember and recall information. When rhymes are added to music, a powerful teaching tool is born: A Song.
Advertisers utilize songs and musical techniques with clever jingles to help us remember their products. Songs have historically been used as effective vehicles to help students remember information – beginning with the ABC Song! Educators know that songs can play a vital role in the formation of character traits. Research over the past 30 years has proven a causal connection between negative song lyrics and negative behaviors. Conversely, songs that communicate character-building thoughts and ideas have a positive impact on the minds and behaviors of students.
Well-constructed songs written in popular genres and utilized in the classroom can maximize the imprinting of information to help students learn, remember, and make more positive life choices. Songs containing rich lyrical value-driven content, high quality music production and messages that address issues directly affecting youth are exceptionally strong educational tools. Also, it is just plain more FUN! (a natural motivator).