Thursday, December 3, 2009

Scaffolding: The Six E's

Earlier, we discussed the foundation of honor education at Calvert: Ethic integration into the curriculum. It is the cornerstone of our approach to character. Additionally, we have our physical space, tradition, and the Dean's Office which contribute to the foundation of our Honor House at Calvert.

The next step is to set up scaffolding in order to build the walls of our Honor House. These provide the framework for how we will apply the life skills that come with Honor. In the article, "Talking About Ethics and Character Education" by Rushworth Kidder, the author describes the Six E's that make a great character education program possible:

  • Embedded - ethics is in every class. This is a manifestation of the Foundation we have set in place

  • Empowered - Teachers are allowed to do this. In fact, in recent surveys of independent schools, parents indicated that a primary reason for choosing independent schools instead of public schools is character education

  • Effective - Despite what it may look like, the deliberate infusion of a character education program shows results. It helps to develop moral compasses in our students.

  • Extended - Students need opportunities to demonstrate their ethical "chops" outside of the Calvert walls. Outreach is a great way to do it.

  • Engaged - Approach the issues that matter to the community. The new honor code was developed from a year long conversation about the issues that matter to us: respect, responsibility, honesty, effort, and outreach.

  • Evaluative - Find a way to evaluate the program. At Calvert we use data - there is a referral system and we track a number of variables from time of year to location to grade. This allows to see the issues as they arise - almost in real time - and come together to address them. Also, we have a points system to reward students and create opportunities to celebrate them. We are able to see those students who are being "caught" doing great things - again, almost in real time.

Kidder also includes an epistemological point which discusses a conceptual framework, or way to talk about ethics. We have developed that in the Honor Code, during advisory, in class, and the points system.

We have used these Six E's to develop a program on top of the Honor House's foundation which we believe will allow is to approach the students in a way that will allow us to seize teachable moments with a common language. This scaffolding prepares us to apply the bricks and mortar of character education.

Next week we will discuss the what comprises those bricks and mortars and toolbox we need in order to work with them.

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