Engaging Families and the Community in Your Character Education Efforts

By Rebecca Sipos

Last month I had the honor of presenting at New Jersey’s State Schools of Character Recognition Ceremony, and I got to hear a great keynote from Rutgers psychology professor Maurice Elias. One thing he said really surprised me. In talking with parents about the good things that come from good social-emotional-character programs, he asked them, “Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?” He got push back. “No,” some said, “We want rigorous academics…” Dr. Elias was startled. He reframed the question: “What sort of schools do you want for your grandchildren?” Then the reaction was much more in line with what he had expected. We want our grandchildren to experience a caring school community, but for our own kids, we are too concerned with their ability to compete.
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