Focus on Character Education

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

I recently came across an old copy of The Grade Teacher, a publication of the Educational Publishing Corporation, Darien, Connecticut, US, at an antique show I attended. The dog-eared issue, dated April, 1942, was on sale for considerably more than its original 30 cents price. Thumbing through this aged “Professional Magazine for Classroom Teachers of All Grades,” I found an article titled, “The City of Refuge” with a subtitle: Foundations of Character Education, by Henry Turner Bailey.

This decades old analysis of character education by Bailey struck a connecting chord in my mind with Attention-ology for K – 5 teachers. For one thing, isn’t showing RESPECT, as in listening attentively when someone else is speaking, a key trait of what is widely perceived as “good character”?

In his article, Bailey makes the case for building foundations of character education by leading the way to the joys of learning. His writing may sound antiquated to modern ears. He defines “Real Teaching” as methods by which “all school topics should be taught that through them the children may catch visions of what is beyond.”

Bailey acknowledges the challenges that teachers in America (and likely elsewhere) faced during the turbulent years of World War II, leading the way “into the land of delights” (his definition of the rewards of solid character education).

The war wasn’t all to overcome. Bailey wrote about creating a new vision for education free of the restraints of earlier teaching methods. He said, “Those who occupied our places in the past did not always serve with gladness, nor lead forth their flock with joy. When they forced children to learn verses by heart, as a punishment for some offense, they placed stumbling blocks in the path and almost closed one of the gates – perhaps the chief and most accessible.”

Bailey characterized teaching as a privilege “to free the spirit” of children. “To be able to give freedom to many is something worth the effort of a lifetime,” he wrote. “What satisfaction may be ours!”

No doubt, satisfaction for teachers in our turbulent 21st century will come when students are able to stay focused on the tasks at hand and “catch visions of what is beyond.”

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Talk with you next week,

BarbaraThe Lovable Poet

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