Just curious - what do you think?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by tchr4evr, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

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    Aug 31, 2011

    I was just wondering what some others think. My school is implementing a new "character" building piece to our curriculum. All of us who have a 1st block class are advisors for those students in that class. We have two days a month where we take 20 minutes and teach character lessons, like honesty, respect, goal-setting, etc. They gave us all the lessons yesterday, with the plans and resources, and frankly, I was pleasantly surprised. They are well thought-out, well planned, and actually kind of interesting. My 1st block is my AP class, so we should have some good discussions. One of my co-workers is so against it--she feels we have no business teaching morality and ethics. She says she cannot in good conscience discuss the concept of right and wrong because the school itself is often hypocritical in terms of discipline, etc. (another story), (There are one or two lessons where we are supposed to discuss ethics and morality, etc.) Also, she feels that it is too religiously based (she is very opinionated atheist) for her to feel comfortable discussing.

    I disagree with her, because I think all the things in the book are important issues, and some kids don't get it at home. I discuss these types of things with my AP kids anyway because it comes up in many of the works they read.

    Just curious if anyone else would have a problem teaching these "character" lessons?

    On a similar note, do you think it is okay to excuse a child from an assignment because the assignment asked about religion? Meaning, we had a student several years ago who refused to write an essay for the APUSH exam because it was focusing on Puritanism, and she is a staunch atheist. They failed the test because of it. The student was livid, and although I understand her viewpoint, I think that there is a limit to touting your beliefs (I personally am an atheist as well, and I would never refuse to write an essay because it discusses religion)
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Aug 31, 2011

    We actually teach lessons on behavior at school as well. We focus on teaching the expectations.

    As for the religion essay, it would depend on the topic of the essay. Asking you to describe a certain religion or the beliefs of a religion is much different than asking you to defend a certain religion.
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 31, 2011

    I don't see any problem teaching the 'character' lessons for the reason you mentioned...some students don't get these lessons at home...and it's important for all students to get that reinforcement.

    As for the essay, did the question specifically ask for religion? Even if it did, it's part of American History so should be tested, especially in an AP class/test.
     
  5. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    As an AP teacher, I would be more upset about losing valuable, valuable class time to teach these lessons. Losing 40 minutes of instructional time every month from August through April would cost me 360 minutes or roughly 8 class days of time. That's one whole unit I wouldn't get to teach which could mean diaster on AP exam day.
     
  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Agreeing with others here on the two points:

    1. Character education - no problem at all, in fact quite good! Sounds like the other teacher who has a problem has some other issues with the school in general that are interfering with her thought process.

    2. Religious essay - there's a difference between asking for a student's personal beliefs, asking a student to provide a theological evaluation of a statement/passage/argument, and asking a student to provide a historical assessment (or literary, etc.). To the extent that it's the third and not to the first two, I think it's fair game!
     
  7. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I am also a very opinionated religion, but I educate myself about religion. I understand how it affects literature and history and that I have to learn about it. I don't agree with Nazism either, but that doesn't mean I don't learn about it. (Although I will also add that I have never had an atheist student or parent request to have an alternative assignment, but I have had many Christian parents request a new assignment, and the same theory applies, in my opinion. You might not agree with it, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't learn about it).

    As for character education, I haven't seen the lessons, but I would imagine that most people, religious, atheist, or in between, would agree on most morals.
     
  8. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    Aug 31, 2011

    The Puritan question asked students to evaluate the ways that religious beliefs in Massachusetts Bay affected society, politics, and economics. It was a very basic question that any AP student ought to be able to answer (though many struggled because it's increasingly common to teach the colonial period for only a few weeks early in the year).

    Like INTeacher, I'd be very concerned about losing so much time. I also think that there's plenty of character education in American history as is. No need for a separate curriculum.

    But it's easy for me to say. My school asks students to study world religions and ethics so teaching character is an explicit part of the curriculum.
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 31, 2011

    I'm at an elementary, so it's not quite the same...but we actually have "crew" which is focused on character building, team building, morality, ethics etc. for 30 minutes every morning. The kids love it and I think it's a great program. I can honestly say kids in my school do have better character than any other school I've been in (and I've been in tons) and I think a lot of it is due to our program. I'm not sure high schoolers would need or appreciate such explicit character instruction though- I think they might feel it was silly or something. Our kids are actually in school for 7 hours 45 mintues with only 20 minutes each for lunch and recess, so although "crew" takes time, I think they get just as many if not more "academic" minutes than kids in other schools. The "crew" time also sometimes incorporates readings or journaling.
     

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