Bonsall students to learn 'Character Counts'


Last updated 8/28/2007 at Noon

sponsible behavior will be introduced to all Bonsall schools August 27. First implemented in the district at Bonsall West when it opened, “Character Counts” is designed to teach all students character-building behaviors they can carry into their homes and throughout life. The Character Counts program at Bonsall will be part of each class from K-8 and includes a common vocabulary students will learn that will be reinforced at each grade level.

Character Counts was created in 1992 by the nonprofit Josephson Institute of Ethics, which gathered experts in ethics and character education to develop a language of core ethical values that apply regardless of religious, political and socioeconomic differences. Six Pillars of Character were derived from that meeting and became the core of the program.

The Six Pillars of Character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship – are now presented to students at each grade level in language they can understand. Character Counts programs have grown to include school districts, youth-service groups and entire communities.

The “pillars” are presented in language and color to reinforce the criteria. Trustworthiness is presented as the color blue, as in “true blue.” Respect is yellow/gold, like the “Golden Rule,” which Jeff Felix, superintendent at Bonsall, says is a tenet of many religions. Responsibility is green, for its affinity to a garden or finances, or reliability like a tree. Fairness is orange, to be remembered as sections of an orange to share. Caring, represented by the color red, recalls the heart. Finally, the regal color purple represents citizenship. The colors are repeated throughout the program materials that include banners, fliers and stickers teachers can use in their presentations.

Although the colorful reminders are eye-catching and will help teachers reinforce the program, it is the concepts that make the lasting impression.

“Trustworthiness” emphasizes honesty and teaches students not to cheat, steal or be deceptive, to have courage to do the right thing, to be reliable and to be loyal by standing by one’s family, friends and country.

“Respect” teaches how to respect others, follow the Golden Rule and use good manners. Part of this “pillar” includes being considerate, managing insults and disagreements without anger and avoiding bad language, threatening, hitting or hurting anyone. Tolerance is an important component of this pillar.

“Responsibility” is demonstrated by following rules, perseverance and using self-control and self-discipline. Doing your best, thinking before acting and being accountable for choices is being “responsible.”

“Fairness” teaches students to play by the rules, take turns and share. It also shows kids how to be open-minded and listen to others without taking advantage or blaming others carelessly.

“Caring” demonstrates kindness, compassion and showing how to care and be grateful. It also teaches forgiveness and how to help people in need.

“Citizenship,” last on the list but not least in importance, shows students the importance of volunteering to make their school and community better. It teaches how to cooperate, stay informed and vote, be a good neighbor, obey laws and rules and respect authority. It also includes protecting the environment.

Michael Josephson, Josephson Institute of Ethics, writes, “A study by the American Federation of Teachers reported that 95 percent of all Americans want public schools to teach honesty and the importance of telling the truth and to respect others regardless of their racial or ethnic background and that 93 percent want schools to teach kids to resolve problems without resorting to violence.

“A 1997 survey by the National Association of Secondary School Principals reported that 78 percent of high school educators believe it is the responsibility of public education to instill a set of common core values in youth in order to prepare them to be good citizens.”


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