SAFER Training Programme (English)

Character Education Theoretical Background – Introduction

The English word “character” is derived from the Greek charaktêr, which originally was a reference to markings engraved upon coins. With the years passing the word “character” came to mean a distinctive set of features by which one thing was distinguished from the rest and subsequently when referring to individuals, to mean the combination of qualities and traits that distinguish one person from another (Homiak, 2007).

When it comes to Social Sciences and children, the word “character” usually refers to the composite of psychological characteristics that impact the child’s capacity and tendency to be an effective moral advocate, i.e.: to be socially and personally responsible, ethical, and self-managed (Berkowitz & Bier, 2007). “Good Character” is not the absence of deficits and problems, but rather a well-developed family of positive traits (Peterson & Skiba, 2009). In addition, character traits are also “concerned with a person’s moral worth” (Goldie, 2004). Many might theorise that having character simply means that you “follow the rules” and avoid involvement in socially undesirable behaviours and motivations. However, character is not just about following the rules, but is to cultivate an intrinsic desire to do what is best for your own good and to be respectful about the welfare of others as well. Put simply, character is the realization of one’s positive development as a person – intellectually, socially, emotionally, and ethically. To be a person of good character is to be the best person that one can become (Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004).