By Brandon Juarez, MEd
Assistant Professor, College of Education
Character education is at the heart of a free and appropriate public education. If this seems commonsense and undisputable, one only has to search local district websites to see vast differences in how schools interpret the meaning, purpose and value of character education. Neighboring districts vary from collaborative initiatives that span from kindergarten through high school, while others make no mention or do not seem to display much effort.
Why is there such a difference?
I recently attended a funeral for a former colleague who spent 28 years in the teaching profession. As I reflect on her life and the impact she had on hundreds of students (one example was the overwhelming number of former students that flocked to her funeral from around the country), my mind wandered back to the same one word: people.
Education is a people job far more than a paper job. This educator understood this principle and transformed her career and the lives of students for nearly three decades.
A gap in the approach to making character education relevant and impactful is excluding and/or jettisoning relationships from attributes that make up aspects of character. Further, basic psychology reminds us individuals are far more interested in how we make them feel than what we know in terms of content knowledge.
Thus, the simple truth is students will learn far more from teachers by their actions than their words. Students will observe and learn about character from their character. No initiative or program will surpass the skills teachers already possess.
It is my desire that teachers will seek opportunities to showcase these aspects for their students, as this is truly the secret sauce.
Character education is a wonderful and noble goal, but the pillars of character only become relevant when teachers can successfully connect the concepts to individual lives. Yes, this approach takes time, a lot of energy and a tremendous amount of care, but after all, changing lives is the foundation of the teaching profession.
Grand Canyon University’s College of Education helps future educators gain the knowledge they need to succeed in the classroom, with principles, values and ethics from our Christian worldview incorporated across our programs. For more information about GCU, visit our website or request more information using the green button at the top of this page.
More about Brandon:
Brandon began his journey in education as a coach, teacher and athletic director in a Phoenix K-8 school, serving primarily in the middle school segment of the school. Brandon began his position at Grand Canyon University as full-time online faculty in August 2012 and expanded to the College of Education as an adjunct faculty on GCU’s main campus in the spring 2014. He received a promotion to manage a College of Education full-time online faculty team in April 2013. He now serves as an assistant professor at GCU. In his spare time, he enjoys spending outdoor time with his wife and two children.