Whose job is it?

United States
August 4, 2008 11:22am CST
Much of my job-related reading lately has involved character education. I'm really not sure what I think of this. Shouldn't parents decide what their children's character education comprises? Are we to make sure all the kids think alike, so we can have a nation of androids? At the same time as this concerns me, I have to admit that teaching gets increasingly difficult because so many of the kids have such terrible attitudes and behavior these days. Respect has almost entirely gone out the window, and if the kids can't respect others, can they respect themselves? If the parents aren't bringing them up with a good moral base, should the schools take over the job? I demand respect for all and tolerance in my class, but that's just one hour of the day. Then what? Any suggestions?
4 people like this
9 responses
@Sonadora (356)
• United States
4 Aug 08
This is tough. I don't think character education should be the sole responsibility of any one individual. It is the responsibility of any individual that comes into contact with that child. I don't think we should make all kids think alike. I feel we should only guide their thoughts, not mold or shape them. Character education is a large task. As a teacher, the responsibility is definitely there. That position presents you as a role model, especially with young children. It takes everybody working as a team, though. Parents, educators, mentors, etc. If just one person is slacking then it will show. You only see the kids one hour a day, like you said. Just keep doing what you're doing, preach respect and tolerance, and also exemplify it. And just hope that some of it sinks in. That's really all you can do, especially if the parents aren't doing anything at all. My mom feels the same way sometimes. She works in the school's alternative learning environment, which consists of troubled children as well as those good kids that are just trying to escape. It's sad really.
1 person likes this
• United States
4 Aug 08
You're so right. I guess if it weren't such an important issue, it would be much simpler. Sadly, it seems that parents these days don't do much in terms of character education. Many are too busy with their jobs and their own lives. Many don't really know what to do. Too many, by far, just don't care. Then their kids act up and they yell at us teachers for not straightening them out better! We all hang in there, though, and take a great deal of joy in those who exhibit positive character!
• United States
4 Aug 08
I think it is the job of both parents and teachers, working together, and in that order. Now the main responsibility, mind you, lies with the parents. Mom and Dad, indeed, are a child's first teachers. And it is Mom and Dad who must teach, both by precept and by example. If you tell your child not to lie, for example, and they see you lying to Mr. or Ms. Bill Collector when they call, or telling the poor child to do so--that creates a conflict. That tells Junior that it is okay to lie one's way out of situations if it will protect oneself, or one's family. When I have children, I intend to teach them that lying's wrong. Period. If they are caught in a lie, woe will be to them! But in order to be effective in my disciplining of them, I must show that I am honest. I cannot preach telling the truth when I try to get out of paying my bills and lie to keep from doing so. I cannot cheat on my beautiful wife, and lie to cover it up. My wife and, worse yet, the kidlets, sooner or later, will find it out. If they see me lying and cheating to get my way in life--what's to keep them from cheating on that science test? What would keep them from filing frivolous or fraudulent tax returns when they grow up? Kids need to be taught that right is right, wrong is wrong, period. Then the correct behaviours need to be appropriately modeled by the adults in the house at all times.
• United States
4 Aug 08
I think it is the job of both parents and teachers, working together, and in that order. Now the main responsibility, mind you, lies with the parents. Mom and Dad, indeed, are a child's first teachers. And it is Mom and Dad who must teach, both by precept and by example. If you tell your child not to lie, for example, and they see you lying to Mr. or Ms. Bill Collector when they call, or telling the poor child to do so--that creates a conflict. That tells Junior that it is okay to lie one's way out of situations if it will protect oneself, or one's family. When I have children, I intend to teach them that lying's wrong. Period. If they are caught in a lie, woe will be to them! But in order to be effective in my disciplining of them, I must show that I am honest. I cannot preach telling the truth when I try to get out of paying my bills and lie to keep from doing so. I cannot cheat on my beautiful wife, and lie to cover it up. My wife and, worse yet, the kidlets, sooner or later, will find it out. If they see me lying and cheating to get my way in life--what's to keep them from cheating on that science test? What would keep them from filing frivolous or fraudulent tax returns when they grow up? Kids need to be taught that right is right, wrong is wrong, period. Then the correct behaviours need to be appropriately modeled by the adults in the house at all times. Teachers can be helpful with this, too. It is the teachers' and the school district's job to build on the foundation that the parents lay down. As a substitute teacher, my kids get in more in trouble with me if they lie about a thing than actually not having done it. If you tell me you did your homework for today, and I ask you to let me see it--and it turns out you lied--I will impose worse sanctions on you for lying than for the original offense. The regular teacher will have a note left to him or her about that student who lied to me, the substitute. As a parent, my child will get a worse spanking from me for having lied about something than if they had been truthful. So we wil have better kids if parents and teachers both work together, and are on the same page. I believe that requires communication between school and home.
1 person likes this
@zhaosonghan (1039)
• China
5 Aug 08
School and parents have same duty on teaching kids,in the class teachers shall teach kids respect others, and respect themselves,when they are in home their parents do it like this too.But i think kids spent most of times on the class and constructing the kids' moral,so when teachers found some terrible behavior or attitudes,then should teach them,told the kids how should they do and what they can do.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Aug 08
Misbehavior happens occasionally, and we just deal with it. The problem is to decide upon a student's basic moral guidelines, and it's hard to avoid being wrong when we have so many cultures represented in each class. Thanks for the response.
@mimico (3619)
• Philippines
5 Aug 08
I think all the different agents of socialization have a part in molding children to be morally good. The family is a good place to start of course and is usually the foundation for the development of one's character. But the school, the government, and the media also play an active role in helping one become a good person. It's not just the sole responsibility of the family.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Aug 08
Our rules sometimes conflict with one another, which makes these things more difficult than they need to be. We have to be very careful about not stepping on anyone's toes, and what's right in one culture may be wrong in another. We're supposed to honor their differences while getting them to be some sort of android and all act alike. It's not easy, and without strong teachings in the home, it's really hard!
• Philippines
5 Aug 08
Here in the Philippines, Teachers and Administrators are given the task of molding every child's capacity to socialize, which includes of course, character education. The only problem that we are facing here is when the parents do not cooperate. In my class, I tried a different way of making them behave, instead of negative reinforcements, I did everything in a playing manner. Everybody became happier in the class, and the students have started behaving properly. What I did not like in my method was sometimes, they treat me more of a clown than a teacher. sigh... :(
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Aug 08
There are only a few bad actors, and they are inevitably the ones whose parents don't cooperate with the school. I know what you mean aboutthat fine line in their attitudes toward us. I have to remind some of them I'm not their teen friend, I'm their old lady teacher, because they become presumptuous. I love 'em anyway!
@underdogtoo (9599)
• Philippines
5 Aug 08
Teaching is one of the things that I love doing. I have a genuine love of learning and I am quite adept at it. When I was in college I would take over classes and my teachers would sometimes sit in front and take notes. One class where I handled teaching from beginning to end including making the mid-term and final exams was interesting to me because it gave me the perspective of a teacher. I love to teach and I never had any problems about attitude and behavior because I can command the respect and attention of students.
• United States
5 Aug 08
I, too, love teaching. For the same reasons you point out, most of my students are respectful and well-behaved. There are some, however, who take bad attitudes with everyone, and when they're sent to the office, there are o consequenses, so they don't straighten out. Those few spoil it for everyone.
• United States
5 Aug 08
I see what you are saying. I truely feel that while school teachers have a huge influence on children, I think it is pretty impossible to change the characher of a child solely based on what is being taught at school. Teaching children not to lie, cheat and steal is to me a great thing. This SHOULD be the job of the parents!! We might assume that kids are being taught such values at home, but sadly, Not all of them are. Infact, some kids live in homes where these things are a daily happening. Some parents are exibiting these behaviors in front of their children. Should not they be offered a differant message from someone that they respect and beleive in? As I said first off, I do NOT think you can totally change a childs character soley on what is being taught at school. However, if they are at leaste being offered a differant point of veiw, perhaps some will take the right path. Just my opinion! I live in an area where there are alot of misguided kids, so my point of weiw stems from that.
1 person likes this
• United States
4 Aug 08
I teach high school and not middle or elementary where you would think most of the character ed would be. But at a parochial school character is still thought of as important and is taken care of by things like a morals and ethics class or religion class and also a graduation req to do 100 hours of community service. It helps lots of kids but not all. It HAS to come from the parents too. We can't do everything
• United States
4 Aug 08
I teach high school seniors, but they're not too old to learn to improve. They pass what they learn along to younger siblings and friends. If we can inculcate the best, we can get back to the days of far better character. I hope, so, anyway. Still, we're a very diverse community, and I hate to step on someone's toes because I don't know much about their culture. Thanks for the response.
@guybrush (4660)
• Australia
6 Aug 08
Education has changed so much over the 30+ years my husband has been a teacher. He's happy to be looking at retirement now, as he finds classrooms filled with disrespectful people busy with their mobile phones who don't seem to care about showing any courtesy or manners. He also finds the new reporting system ludicrous (we have 'outcomes' now, rather than parents being able to easily see how their child compares with others on the same level). There is also 'medication time' factored into the day, where students can go to the office to have their ADHD medication dispensed. It's a strange new world out there, and teachers are increasingly asked to take on responsibilities which should be up to parents.
• United States
6 Aug 08
Certainly this is a bit odd, but I'm so glad to hear it's not just in USA. That doesn't make it better, just not quite as awful! I'm often reminded that I'm getting closer all the time to retirement, so I can hang in there, even when it's really a bad day. Still, most days are wonderful! I miss the old days when we could put a disruptive kid out of class, but that's not allowed anymore!
1 person likes this
@guybrush (4660)
• Australia
7 Aug 08
Sadly, the only punishment allowed now at (most?) Australian schools is giving a demerit. Seeing as students couldn't care less about this and it's no big threat, teachers are really left with no disciplinary tools these days. It's become very difficult, and there are many teachers my husband's age retiring shortly, leaving a huge demand for teachers. Teaching has become a pretty undesirable career choice here, even though the marks and qualifications required have been lowered significantly in order to attract candidates (in itself, a bad idea). I think our government is going to find itself in a bit of bother over the next few years.
@manunulat (605)
• Philippines
5 Aug 08
Children differ from one another. There is uniqueness in every child. If this is bothering you so much, then a parents-teacher's conference may be a venue to address concerns. You can't get the kids to an authoritarian approach like in most schools in Asia. Probably because Education is really given importance. In India, their kids are pushed beyond their limits of capacity. It has some cultural implications. American parents seems to be lax that's why these attitude proliferates. It's so sad because this sense of looseness detach a form of communication. Yet, never give up!
• United States
5 Aug 08
That's why I'm concerned about this mandate that's being issued for us to include character education in our curricula. Miami is a huge multi-cultural place, and each culure has its own slant on character. How can I decide the character components when there are kids in my classes from more than a dozen different countries. Even those from very strict places, who would never dream of misbehaving in the school they came from pick up the slacker attitude and the say-what-you-want, no matter who might think it's good or bad atitude in a heartbeat! I wish the parents would take more responsibility with raising their children! I teach high school seniors, so many of the parents tell me their kids are too old to have to listen to parents! I'm always shocked by that, no matter how many times it happens. Thanks for the response!