What happened to “good citizenship?”

Today's topic came to me as a convergence of a number of thoughts and observations over the period of a few weeks.  I'd like to examine the idea of "citizenship" -- no, not as in the "citizenship" or nationality of a country, but the ordinary, everyday sort of citizenship.

Citizenship is about belonging to a group and "good citizenship," then, it follows is about being a good, positive member of that group. What I think is interesting is that this trait is something that our young children used to be routinely graded on in school. Today...well, not so much.

This concept was brought home to me several weeks ago when I was browsing through, of all things, Tony Little's latest book "There's Always a Way."  In the center of the book, among other pictures and illustrations is a copy of Tony's report card from Kindergarten. If you look at the boxes for which he was graded, you'll notice something very interesting: you will find virtually nothing that assesses and reports on his academic progress or achievement.  Instead, you'll find assessment points like "I listen when others are speaking," "I keep my hands to myself," "I take responsibility," I keep my hands to myself." (I'm not going to discuss Tony's actual grades here; for that, you'll have to buy a copy of his book!)

But, recently, when I was interviewed on Q13 Fox, in the wake of the AZ Shooting incident in which six people were killed and many wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, I posted a link to the video on the SocialSmarts Facebook  Fan page. The topic of the interview was "uncivil discourse," in which I discussed the types of words and phrases we use these days and how it can instantly lapse from disagreeing with someone's viewpoint to vicious character assassination. In response to that posting, one of our supporters, Louise Hart mentioned, too, how we used to be graded on citizenship in primary school, but how that seems to have morphed to where we are merely "consumers" -- great at shopping, but lousy at our social skills. (more…)

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Education: Intelligence PLUS Character

"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Martin Luther King, Jr.martin luther king jr goal for education character intelligence

I've always liked that quote because I think it really says what the goal of education should really be. I also think it sets a precedence for why we need to focus on teaching character in schools. While I don't believe that our schools should be responsible for all aspects of education, I also know that too many of our children are not learning critical character and lifeskills that they need.  When they don't, not only do they suffer in school but they continue to lag behind in the skills they need to be successful in life.

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