Character education lesson plans have a purpose, and that purpose is to sell high moral values to young people in a way that they find irresistible. Such selling is not automatic, of course. Character education lesson plans lying on a desk or standing on a shelf do no selling on their own. They must sell moral values through the teachers that handle them.
Character education lesson plans are a school’s sales campaign – the design that teachers use to present high moral values to their students. As TV commercials convince young people that the latest fad is “to die for,” character education lesson plans must persuade children and teenagers that high moral values are desirable and advantageous to them.
Pretend with me that a fifty-foot container truck is delivered to your door today. The delivery personnel hand you documents, which you skim rapidly. The huge truck contains tons of gemstones. You must sell the gemstones to your students. The more gemstones you can sell, the better your community will become. Residents will become safer, healthier, and more prosperous. The community will be more peaceful and cleaner. Crime will diminish, and possibly disappear if you sell enough.
When you open the doors of the huge truck, the splendor of the gemstones renders you breathless. You gasp, your eyes trying to take in the exquisite reds, greens, blues, yellows and whites. The sun glints off one pile and then another. No one has to tell you that you have a treasure of inestimable worth! You want to sell it all, and as quickly as possible.
You close and lock the doors. Back in your house, you begin to plan eagerly how you will sell the precious stones. You draw up a detailed sales campaign.
Ineffective Character Education Lesson Plans
Character education lesson plans are a detailed sales campaign for the precious stones that are absolute values. They are instructions for presenting the gemstones in such a way that your students will be eager to buy, display, and use them. You will want the best possible sales campaign, of course – the best possible character education lesson plans. You want to make a huge difference in your students’ lives and in your community. What should you include? What should you exclude? How should you begin?
Many character education lesson plans are ineffective and you will want to avoid those. Let’s look at just three types that will not sell.
1. Talkers: Many character education lesson plans include too much sales talk. They may even rely entirely on sales talk. They talk to students about responsibility. How does that work for them? How many gemstones could you sell if you did little more than talk about them? If you ever watched a cable TV program that sells gemstones, you know that talk is not enough. You can talk about how beautiful an emerald is, but you have to do more than that to sell the emerald. Character education lesson plans that require a focus on talk are seldom effective at selling high moral values.
2. Discussers: Your character education lesson plans may give large blocks of time to discussion. Students are encouraged to tell what they think. “Let’s discuss responsibility,” the teacher says. This reduces teacher preparation time, but it makes salespersons of the students, and they are not qualified. If a teen walks into a jewelry store and tells a clerk he is interested in a ruby, the clerk will never ask the teen to discuss the ruby. The clerk knows that the teen is not qualified to describe a ruby’s attributes – to detail what it should be and what it should not be. A teen does not know the real value of a particular ruby, and is likely to go to another store if he is pressed into discussion. Those who base character education lesson plans on discussion succeed in pooling student ignorance, but seldom sell high moral values.
3. Role-players: In schools where I have observed character education lesson plans, I have often seen strong reliance on role-playing. The teacher gives a role-playing situation for a trait such as fairness and sits back to watch. When the skit concludes, the teacher asks for comments, changes the situation slightly, and assigns new players. This technique, too, places the burden of selling on unqualified students. Frequently, I watched their fumbling efforts give flawed views of the beautiful moral gemstones they were presenting. A sapphire in the hands of role-playing students may often appear to be a piece of blue glass. When teachers base character education lesson plans on frequent role-playing, they are unlikely to sell life-changing moral gems.
Those are not the only kinds of ineffective character education lesson plans I have seen. They do give us an idea, however, of the kinds of material offered to teachers and parents under the guise of character education lesson plans.
In Part 2 of this article series, we will look at effective sales campaigns – character education lesson plans that sell large numbers of moral gemstones. We will put on our thinking caps and learn how you can find or create programs that are exciting and successful – the kinds that result in sweeping behavioral change.
Part 3 of this series will show how you yourself can become a highly skilled salesperson who excels at selling the precious stones of absolute values.
Character education lesson plans, like sales campaigns, must sell to young people in a way that they find irresistible. The best way to launch a successful campaign is to make sure you pay attention to every detail. Begin by avoiding the ineffective.