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Is character education the same as theology?

I am looking to send my child for a course in character education but I’m not strictly looking for a religious or theological program. Instead, I want a program or school that will instill the values of good character and peaceful living in a way that an 8th grader can understand. I’ve heard that Michigan charter schools offer some really great character development programs, but I still don’t know what they teach in these programs. What does schooling in these institutions look like? What does their normal school class look like?

Naomi Doyle

in Schools

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Ramon Kelly on February 13, 2018

You have a rough idea of what character ed means but you’re also right that it encompasses far more than religion and theology. It is simply a means of teaching in which the values of innate morality, peaceful living and coexistence, amicability, good manners, respect of the law, respect for others, tolerance among other positive human values are taught. Religion is different from this because it stretches beyond an individual and into organized worship, while theology references learning about God. The methods employed seem to want the trainee to develop goodness from within. The methods employed greatly vary from institution to institution, and there is no specific formula for teaching it, evaluating it or administering it.

Charter education offers a great chance for your kids to get into a good character development program.

You’ve mentioned Michigan and I just happen to reside there. Charter schools in Michigan are some of the most well-known in the country offering these courses. These schools each have pillars or virtues that they try to instill into their students, creating a blend of personality and behavior that results naturally into great character. A good example of a school there that offers character development programs is the Japhet school, which tries to integrate its strong academic program with character development, preparing its students for pre-adulthood. The school has a popular program that even other institutions borrow from. The school promotes academic individualization which is why teachers are able to nurture each child personally and keep tabs on their progress. Something worth noting which references your earlier question is the fact that the school doesn’t offer religious education. As a resident of the area, I can attest that Japhet students are probably the most well behaved of all kids I’ve come across, including my own. They are not robots who can’t think for themselves, rather they come across as quite mature and much endeared to their fellow human beings. The average class size is about 20 students or less, although you can confirm this. They also offer scholarships for bright and needy students. If your child is in the 7th grade, this would be a great time to expose him to such a school. I think what makes more of an impact for me is the fact that such schools are built on certain tenets that live on and inspire even if kids graduate and move on. Try it!

Jessie Thompsona year ago

First of all, religion doesn’t teach character and theology has more to do with understanding God than ourselves. That being said, what are you looking to benefit from these character education programs? Do you want your child to always be prepared situations with good judgment? Maybe you have seen signs of trouble from your preteen and think aa character education program will straighten him/her out. Whatever your reasons, these programs are designed to push different agendas and while it might not seem like it from the onset, you may end up regretting it. While I’m not against incorporating character development in any curriculum, we should never forget that that is our primary duty as parents. We need to make sure that we keep tabs on our kids and what they are taught in school. I believe there are great schools out there offering character development but just try being careful.


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