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December 2019
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Character Education

Character Educaton Receives Great Response In Chicago

The theme and title of the National Convocation of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, held in Chicago from May 29-31, was “Rebuild the Family, Restore the Community, Renew the Nation and the World.” Character education was introduced as an innovative way to address these concerns. Well-attended, the closing banquet and awards ceremony brought together over 400 local ministers.

Robert L. Sayre of the Universal Peace Federation’s Character Education Initiative was one of the presenters over a two and a half day period. He described the overall goals and scope of the Character Education Initiative and then divided the participants into groups of eight to ten. The groups read, discussed and then reported on one of four stories from Discovering the Real Me.

 

 



The response was dynamic. Several hundred ministers of the Gospel clearly saw the value of approaching such morally charged but common social issues as sexual purity and single parent families from a character education point of view. The ministers were introduced to UPF’s character education curriculum, Discovering the Real Me. The teaching style advocated in the books—that of reading, discussing and reflecting—gave the ministers insights into how to handle these hot-button social issues in a manner both educational and ethical. The ministers saw that the curriculum filled real needs in an authentic and refreshing way, and their burning desires to help their congregants “by any means necessary” was evident in their responses to this fresh approach to the moral content of such social issues.

One of the stories from the third-grade book for 8- to 9-year-olds, “Roses and Diamonds, Snakes and Toads,” focuses on how children often are faced with real or perceived unfair treatment by their parents and step-parents. The report from one of the groups that read this story included a testimony of how overcoming resentment from childhood can often be a painful process, yet one that is central to becoming a person of mature character capable of establishing loving relationships in adult life.

Another story read by groups was from the seventh-grade student textbook for 12- to 13-year-olds entitled “A Loyal Friend?”, dealing with cheating and how a student’s friends might use accusations of disloyalty to pressure a fellow student into allowing them to cheat. A few of the questions from this lesson are:

•    What do loyalty and commitment mean?
•    What is the relationship between the two?
•    How is betrayal the opposite of loyalty?
•    What is “misguided loyalty”?
•    What is meant by a “higher loyalty”?
•    To whom are you loyal?

As well as questions and exercises, the curriculum includes student books and teacher manuals. There are 17 lessons per grade level, with two lesson plans each, allowing for a    34-week school year and in-depth examination of the themes of each of the stories and expositions.

Discussion of UPF’s program areas and how they could be used to further the educational outreach of local ministries was a topic of conversation throughout the conference. Ministers from Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Boston and Washington, D.C. all expressed their interest in hosting further educational programs and training in their churches and communities to gain tools and expertise to better serve the needs of the people they care about so deeply.

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