In this final part we will see how to create an appropriate balance between the two aspects of education: education for character and education for career. As we have previously proposed, these two aspects are destined to have a relationship between them as the mind and body, with the values that guide the action. Let us consider in more detail the elements that constitute a truly balanced educational goal, which takes into account the development of the whole person, spiritually and physically, mentally and emotionally, morally and intellectually. Here it is important to note that the concept of education advocated by the IEF is not limited to formal education or institutionalized learning. Education, especially moral education, begins in the earliest years of age and continues throughout life. Formal education systems should respect and harmonize with the learning process that takes place within the family and lasts a lifetime. This presentation is intended to encourage parents, teachers and other important people in a child’s life in their role as moral educators.
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Thomas Lickona, a leader of the contemporary character education movement in the United States, wrote, “Education has had two great purposes: to help young people get smart and … get good.”
|Effectiveness of Character EducationResearchers are beginning to evaluate the effectiveness of character education programs in improving the morality and behavior of young people. For example, the Child Development Project, an elementary-school character education program that has been implemented in 46 schools in four states in the United States since 1998, has been evaluated in three different studies. The results show constant positive changes in a wide range of students’ behaviors, feelings, trends and attitudes. Areas where improvements have been made are conflict resolution techniques, trust and respect towards teachers, pro-social motivation, altruistic behavior and positive interpersonal behavior 1.1 “The Child Development Project: A Brief Summary of the Project and Findings from Three Evaluation Studies” Oakland, California: Development Studies Center, September 1998: See also “Schools of Character: Reclaiming America’s Values for Tomorrow’s Workplace”, McGraw -Hill Companies and Character Education Partnership, p. 15; and “National Schools of Character, Best Practices and New Perspectives”, Character Partnership , 1999 pp. 16, 20, 40.|
Undoubtedly, the purpose of education is to produce decent and competent human beings who can benefit themselves and others. We can divide the purpose of education into three main aspects:
- The individual aspect – developing a mature character.
- The social aspect – learning to build ethical and loving relationships with others, starting from the family.
- The professional aspect – developing your professional skills and competences to become a truly productive citizen.
A Mature Character
Let’s start with the first of these purposes: a mature character. A mature character can be defined as the inner disposition that leads to right conduct. It is our set of attitudes and habits that allows us to foster moral action. Each task and each result bears the imprint of our character. Furthermore, as we will see, one of the results of having achieved good character is that we are able to love others and become more productive citizens. Good character is therefore the basis of all human endeavors.
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|Different Personalities United in CharacterAn important moral distinction must be made between personality and character. Each person is a unique individual, in terms of personality. Personalities vary from person to person, as do general talents and abilities. A certain type of character, on the other hand, can be found among many people. Character is created through virtues that are universal.|
When we say that a person has a good character, we usually mean that this person has a good heart. The heart is the essence of human character. The deepest motivation in all moral endeavors comes from the heart. In particular, the heart is the source of the fundamental impulse to establish relationships. It is what motivates a person to long for the joy of loving and being loved, the satisfaction of appreciating and being appreciated. Love and kinship describe a human need no less strong than that of food and a home. And in fact, people are often willing to give up these two things for love.
Love in the authentic sense is moral in itself. It requires selfless action: giving, serving, sacrificing for the sake of the person we love. Love is also inherently ethical, because it can only be realized in a relationship with another human being. The judgment of whether our love is true or false, generous or possessive, selfless or self-centered, is ultimately given by our counterpart. Therefore, in the pursuit of true love, our heart is happy to foster an ethical and moral being who will pass the test of love. It is thanks to this nature of the heart that people reject superficial and insincere affection, praise a lasting marriage, and reject extra-marital flirtations.
Our heart begins to develop from the moment we are born. However it is not an automatic process like the growth of the human body, but it is something that must be cultivated as a plant which, in order to become healthy and beautiful, must be cultivated with care and love. A person needs experiences of love to encourage the heart to open up and form an inner connection with others. Since a cultivated heart is moral, a person must see moral examples pointed to as role models. Furthermore, he must strive to take care of other people, appreciate them and respect them. A cultivated heart is a heart without selfishness.
Usually the best environment for this growth is the family, but the school can also play an important role. Teachers can be significant influences in the development of the hearts of children and young adults. This happens when the teacher establishes a relationship of heart, love and concern with the children, like that of a parent, which creates a safe environment for learning.
So mature people are those who, with a sincere heart, love others and live for others. They exercise self-control and resist the temptation to follow selfish impulses, to consistently practice a selfless life. Their words and their actions are one. Many people know what is right and say what is right, but they don’t put their words into practice. People with a mature character, on the other hand, will live according to their values and transform them into personal virtues. Parents and teachers alike have a responsibility to be moral examples.
The first part of education focuses on developing the heart so that the individual manifests a loyal and trustworthy character in all future relationships and relationships. Cultivating the heart is the first dimension of education, which bears fruit in the maturity of character. It is also the basis for realizing the other two aspects of education.