When Character Education started right along with school itself in the 1800s it wasn't anything special-it was sort of exactly what school was all about. Teaching kids their 3 Rs and how to be 'good'.
This moral approach to character education worked well for decades, however, in the 50's this approach began to run into some headwinds. Russian space achievements, coupled with Einstein's theory of relativity encourage parents and schools to question the value of religiously based values and as a result character education suffered.
Into the 60's and 70's value clarification was the order of the day for character education in the United States. This approach sough to help students define their own values independent of religious structure, however, the approach was less than successful with critics noting that the morally relative stance of value clarification was not rooted with a firm enough grounding.
The 80's saw a resurgence in conservatism in the United States and character education got a surge as well. Although a return to early religious values was not in the cards neither were the values clarification efforts of the 60's and 70's. The 80's saw a focus on the individual and an effort to measure the effectiveness of character education. While some programs had a demonstrated effectiveness this was not the case universally and character education again didn't fully live up to expectations.
Fast forward to current, November 2016, and we see character education focusing on individual character traits with perseverance, long term dedication, and empathy leading the way in what has become a focus on the individual and his achievements. In future posts we'll take a look at why the individually focused and poorly measured character education programs most likely won't meet the high expectations parents and administrators had for them.