Friday, October 12, 2007

Why Character Education?

The knights of old lived and died by a code of ethics. Kings knew that disloyal or unscrupulous knights were more dangerous than no knights at all. In the late 20th century, many parents and educators forgot their duty to instill character in the next generation of leaders. The results have been devastating.

Imagining that good grades in the three R's would produce a good society, we sowed academics and reaped smart criminals - from a Math professor at Berkeley who terrorized us as the "Unabomber" to the brilliant leaders of Enron who stole our life savings.

On a local level, in an interview with educator Phillip Page, one businessman said,

"The scariest thing is the smart, unethical employee. I'd rather hire an illiterate but ethical employee than a brilliant unethical one."

Although the statement at first appears extreme, his rationale was that an extremely intelligent, but unethical employee will devise a way to rob him blind.

As Warren Buffett, America's most successful investor, advised,

''Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you.'' (From Omaha World Herald, February 1, 1994)

So let's commit ourselves to educate citizens to be both ethical AND literate. Fortunately, our country is rekindling its passion for character. Most states have now mandated character education in their schools. I hope this blog can help in some small way as we motivate one another to pursue character and to pass it on to the next generation.