Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When Character Seems Inconsistent

Does a person's character permeate his life, flowing consistently from work to leisure to family? Not necessarily, say Psychologists. A NY Times op ed piece reports that Psychologists often find students being honest at school, but dishonest at home. A jock may be bold on the playing field, but a wimp at verbally presenting a project to a small group. In other words, for many, character isn't something that people tend to have, regardless of their situation or activity. It may shift when given different contexts.

This makes sense from my observations. People who would otherwise be considered incredibly virtuous feel no remorse at misleading a potential car buyer about the imminent demise of your clunker's transmission.

If we feel (and I do) that good character traits should to be applied consistently in all aspects of life, we may need to take a closer look at areas of life we've tended to ignore. After all, when a child sees a parent bragging about cheating the government out of a bit of taxes, the child concludes, not that merely that the parent cheats on taxes, but that cheating can be OK. Don't believe me? Warn your child about cheating at school and see if the tax thing comes up.

Find Legacy Educational Resources at www.character-education.info .