Teaching and Internalizing Positive Character Traits
Character traits are not innate. They must be acquired through teaching and practice in the home and in the schools. Traits, or virtues, must be transmitted to be internalized. California Department of Education
Internalization can be defined as “the incorporation of values or patterns of culture within the self as conscious or subconscious guiding principles through learning or socialization”.
“Constructing knowledge” suggests that individuals create their own new understandings, based upon the interactions of what they already know and believe, and the phenomena or ideas with which they come into contact. This implies that the internalization of concepts is a direct result of learning based on interactions and experiences. In the same sense, teaching of character traits (by direct experience) leads to the internalization of ethical principles found directly in character education. Internalized ethical principles result in increased moral behavior
The teaching of positive Character Traits in the school relies heavily on the effectiveness of the character education program provided to students. While “standards of character education” are currently being mandated and/or suggested in schools across the nation, most attempts to implement character education into schools invite a networking of community members, teachers, students and parents to collaborate and create a “character education program” they feel will be effective. While such efforts are commendable, these programs may be sporadic and ineffectual. What is needed is a comprehensive character education program in which youth can identify and willingly integrate into their own day-to-day activities, a program that engages their interest and stimulates their motivation, a program that seamlessly allows students to internalize positive character traits – and have fun in the process!
Music is the most effective way to communicate concepts and ideas to youth. The exciting
CAN DO! Curriculum Connection, a premier character education program for K-12, incorporates the dynamics and appeal of contemporary music in popular genres, richly lyrical, value-driven songs, and questioning & discussion strategies that address topical issues that directly affect youth and the choices they make. This program provides a strong, viable educational tool that delivers the desired effect:
the development of positive character traits (Emotional Intelligence).
When students feel comfortable with their own self-identity and self-confidence, when they are validated for their participation, interaction and discussion about issues that affect their life choices, when they can express their feelings and opinions and are given the freedom to agree – or disagree – with other students in the discussion group without fear of judgment, they then can experience the joy and satisfaction of self-respect, a higher level of self-esteem, and worthiness. This accepting environment is the veritable foundation for internalizing and growing one’s own healthy garden of positive character traits!
Krippendorff, 1995; Richardson, 1999, p. 146; Rest, 1997, L. Colley, 2004