You’ve probably noticed that some teens seem to bond inextricably to cell phones, talking and texting incessantly about clothing and music!
Character education has a big hurdle if it’s going to be enjoyable to that group. Teenagers are preparing to enter adulthood, and often find their enjoyment in what they think that world is. They’re interested in what they regard as “hot” issues: dating, sexual intimacy, teen pregnancy, sports, and run-ins with the law – but character education?
“Boring,” groan teenagers.
So how can we change boring to enjoyable?
Teenagers enjoy character education when character education lesson plans and character education activities hang on these four secrets.
- Get Real: Many educators, assigned the task of teaching character education, put on character “clothes” and use character “speech” in class, but teenagers can spot a phony a mile away. Phonies trigger the radar alert. Teens quickly see that their character education teachers are counterfeit men or women of character. They respect neither the teachers nor their character education lesson plans and character education activities. Why should they?Your personal character must be genuine when you teach teenagers. When you explain integrity, teenagers should be able to nod and say, “That teacher is a clear example of integrity. He himself adheres unwaveringly to a strict moral code. His character is whole, not divided. He doesn’t change from situation to situation. When character education lesson plans focus on responsibility, teens should have to admit, “Our teacher’s a first-rate role model of responsibility. She always prepares lessons thoroughly. She knows her job and gives it her absolute best.”
Whatever character traits you teach, exercise them yourself.
Hang character education lesson plans on a real model, and teenagers will enjoy character education.
- Get Priorities Right: Many character education lesson plans and character education activities are curriculum add-ons. Sadly, character education teachers often see this branch of learning as an add-on to their jobs also. What do I mean?Character education is a waste of time to many educators, most of whom do not choose to teach it. Administrators press coaches and counselors into service. Those coaches and counselors may never have learned to write quality character education lesson plans or develop meaningful character education activities for teenagers, but they qualify to teach character education. Why? They have a free hour once or twice a month. Other teachers do not.
Teens get the picture. “Character education isn’t important, and I hate being forced to spend time on things that aren’t important!”
But character education is the priority – the main purpose of education!
Hang character education on right priorities, and teens will enjoy it.
- Get Attention: As we saw earlier, teenagers spend a lot of time thinking about issues that are “hot” to them: dating, sexual intimacy, teen pregnancy, sports, and run-ins with the law. Grabbing attention with hot issues is an excellent way to make character education enjoyable – if done right.Character novels such as bestseller Date with Responsibility and its companion Passport to Courage deal with hot topics in a captivating manner. Their intriguing plots grab and hold teenagers’ attention while they subtly teach vital character traits. Accompanying character education lesson plans apply the message. Their character education activities reinforce it, and add to teens’ enjoyment.
That is why the Character-in-Action® Series of books became so popular among teens as well as their teachers and parents.
Hang character education on attention-grabbing topics and teens enjoy it.
- Get Trustworthiness: Trust is difficult to build with teenagers, and easy to lose. Ask teens to explain a character education teacher’s trustworthiness and they should say something like, “She’s absolutely dependable. I’d feel perfectly safe putting my confidence in her.” Can your students say that about you?You need to generate trustworthiness in your teaching of character traits. Your teenagers should be able to depend on what you teach. They should know that you base your character education lesson plans on absolute, not relative values. They should know that you mean what you say – that you won’t back down.
You should hold and teach strong, clear convictions. You should have the courage of those convictions, making sure students can trust you not to waver.
Hang character education on trustworthiness to be sure teenagers enjoy it.
Conclusion: Character education is enjoyable to teenagers when character education lesson plans and character education activities hang solidly on these four secrets.