Character to Conduct: Helping Students Do the Right Things
by Merri Rosenberg
by the Association for Supervision & Curriculum Develop-ment.
Alexandria, VA. 2000, 134 pp.
a slim volume that belongs in every school, if not in every
clear, concise prose, the authors map out exactly how a school
can succeed in having its students behave in ways that are
consistent, and consonant, with appropriate behavior on all
levels—moral, ethical, social.
almost too good to be true (and no one guarantees that following
the steps they provide will transform every school into a utopia),
but I’m sorely tempted to place a copy in the hands of my daughter’s
high school administrators. There are invaluable lessons contained
here that could be applied to almost any situation in almost
prompted this work was an exercise where they asked middle
school students to describe the most difficult decision they
had ever had to make. To their surprise, they found that these
students were struggling with matters like figuring out which
parent to live with in the case of divorce, what religion to
follow, using (or not using) illegal substances with little
input or guidance from the adults around them. As a result,
they write, “our students helped us understand that they are
making life-altering, long-term decisions with short-term reasoning
skills, insufficient adult guidance and no core frame of reference
for making the right decisions for the right reasons in contemporary
authors argue that push-in character education programs, or
one-shot assemblies, do little to effectively change attitudes
and behaviors. What they advocate instead is something they
term RICE (Respect, Impulse Control, Compassion, Equity), a
four-step formula, complete with diagrams and rubrics, which
detail how a school can implement actual change.
suggest that using questions like “What Do You Think?” or “Would
You Like Some Help,” along with statements like “We need some
time to consider the best choice in this circumstance” or “Everyone
has an important role in helping our group succeed” defuse
potentially fraught situations and remind students of how they’re
expected to behave towards one another. Further, having this
plan adopted by every member of the school community, from
custodial staff and hall monitors, teachers and administrators,
parents and students, makes it more likely that the school
community will be a better place.
practical in a way that many similar books are not. The authors
address such common problem areas as incidents on the school
bus, in the halls, during an athletic event, in parking lots,
during assemblies or in the lunchroom, leaving the reader with
useful take-away information.
endorse the important role parents should play in a school
community (as a parent, something that can’t be said often
enough), and make a compelling argument for adopting the principles
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