Character Matters : How to Help Our Children Develop Good Judgment, Integrity, and Other Essential Virtues
Don't Let Our Kids Flunk Life
The novelist Walker Percy once observed, "Some people get all As but flunk life." Succeeding in life takes character. In Character Matters, award-winning psychologist-educator Thomas Lickona offers more than 100 practical strategies that parents and schools have used to help kids build strong personal character as the foundation for a purposeful, productive, and fulfilling life.
Lickona shows how irresponsible and destructive behavior can invariably be traced to the absence of good character and its 10 essential qualities: wisdom, justice, fortitude, self-control, love, a positive attitude, hard work, integrity, gratitude, and humility. He lays out a blueprint for building these core virtues through a partnership shared by families, schools, and communities. Chapters include:
- 14 strategies that help kids succeed academically while building character
- More than a dozen character-building discipline strategies
- 20 ways to prevent peer cruelty and promote kindness
- 10 ways to talk to teens about sex, love, and character
The culmination of a lifetime's work in character education, this landmark book gives us the tools we need to raise respectful and responsible children, create safe and effective schools, and build the caring and decent society in which we all want to live.
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December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Character Matters by Thomas Lickona
Portraits of character touch something deep in the human heart. In the award-winning Civil War documentary by Ken Burns, one of the most commented on and moving moments was the reading of a letter written by a Union soldier, Major Sullivan Ballou, to his wife, Sarah, a week before his death at the Battle of Bull Run:
My very dear Sarah,
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days -- perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing -- perfectly willing -- to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt....
Sarah, my love for you is deathless... and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on to the battle field.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long.... I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me -- perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name.
Here was a humble man, a courageous man, who loved his family and loved his country and, spurred on by high ideals, did his duty as he saw it without complaining. Tom Brokaw, interviewing veterans of World War II in his best-selling book The Greatest Generation, was struck by many of the same qualities. September 11 produced abundant examples of unassuming heroism and sacrificial generosity.