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Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility.

Thomas Lickona sends educators a profound reminder from history: schooling was designed to produce students who are both "smart" and "good." The emphasis placed on intellectual prowess over the last few decades has overshadowed the moral aspects of education. In fact, educators often assume that society's prevailing individualism requires schools to treat moral questions as if they only involve personal clarification of values. Schools do not give direct attention to shared expectations about the moral conduct necessary for the health of a pluralistic democracy.

The relation of moral decision-making to shared expectations about moral conduct forms the core of Lickona's message. The author underscores many connections between the intellectual and moral aspects of schooling, arguing that infusing the academic curriculum with moral issues will result in schools that effectively produce students who are both "smart" and "good." This volume is a must for all reformers who want schools to give students the knowledge, skills, values and work ethic necessary for a democracy's health.

Lickona, current chair of Teachers for the 21st Century Project and past president of the Association for Moral Education, presents powerful insights about moral education in a format that connects theory and practice. The volume has three sections: 1) an overview of research on values and character education, 2) classroom strategies and 3) schoolwide strategies for teaching respect and responsibility. The author's investigations of schools and research projects in Canada and the United States uncovered a most useful collection of specific strategies for reform-minded teachers and administrators of elementary, middle and high schools. His treatment of cooperative learning and suggestions for infusing value issues into existing curricula are especially noteworthy.

Lickona does not shrink from the difficult topics of sexually active adolescents, abortion, AIDS and drug abuse. His work amounts to nothing less than a contemporary re-discovery and re-analysis of the founding ideals of public schooling. He offers alternative ways to develop a positive school ethos. This volume is a most refreshing and timely offering for anyone who has struggled with the question of what moral principles to teach in a pluralistic society.

Reviewed by Lloyd Duck, Associate Professor of Education, George Mason University Graduate School of Education, Fairfax, VA
COPYRIGHT 1993 Association for Childhood Education International
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Duck, Lloyd
Publication:Childhood Education
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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