Leadership for Character
Approach and framework
Our approach to character development emphasizes pursuit of student flourishing as the overarching purpose of education. The realization of each students’ human potential is a holistic educational endeavor with both moral and academic dimensions necessary for living a modern day ‘good life’. Teachers and educational leaders instinctively share this view that education ought to be aimed at human flourishing involving both academic and character development.
Children are born with capacity to acquire virtue, as integral to character, through practical experience. This requires conscious effort by those around them in addition to appropriate experiences and relationships, invariably involving exposure to good role models and exemplars (e.g. teachers, parents, friends etc.).
We believe that good character has intrinsic worth involving meaning, purpose, hard work and striving for excellence in several important domains, such as intellectual, moral, civic and performance virtues.
The Leadership for Character project adopts a similar approach to that of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues in UK (link). JCCV also has a Character Education Framework.
Community and Character
Of course, each community is different, and the Leadership for Character project aims to work closely with existing educational leaders to enhance character development in students. After all, many schools in Alabama face major challenges and the LFC project needs to be mindful of these while supporting educational leaders in the state. For example, we are working on developing our own character education framework designed to complement existing structures and approaches for cultivating character in Alabama.
The knowledge that human flourishing needs to occur in good communities is well established, but this important message can sometimes be overshadowed in school contexts if there is an overly individualized approach to character education. We believe that educational leaders at principal and superintendent levels are perfectly situated to have a community-wide view in schools and, more importantly, to exert significant influence at this level. A key aim of the LFC project, therefore, will be to support leaders in understanding what leadership for character through community entails and to further develop capacity in this domain.
The LFC project does not view character education as a way to ‘correct’ children who are inherently problematic and needing remedy. Instead, the LFC approach is positively focused on affording students’ opportunity, in an appropriate community, for ethical growth and development. These are also key aims for the Center for the Study of Ethical Development.