Values and Character Education

For the past 35 years, I have been active in the field of values education. In the 70s and 80s, along with Sidney Simon, Merrill Harmin and others, I was a leader in the "values clairification" movement, encouraging teachers, parents, counselors and youth leaders to help young people learn a thoughtful process to develop their own values and realize them in their daily lives.

Later, as I came to better understand the strengths and limitation of the values clarification approach, I became active in the character education movement of the 90s. I developed a comprehensive approach to values education that includes values realization, character education, citizenship education and moral education. I believe we can both teach traditional values and character traits and help young people to learn to think for themselves and make their own best decisions. We can teach and model good character and social responsibility while facilitating young people's independence and life skills.

Recently, I have worked on a comprehensive approach to sex education for teenagers that combines character education, the promotion of abstinence and full information about contraception and protection, and opportunities for them to consider these complex issues and choices for themselves. Some people believe this can't be done, that a so-called "comprehensive" approach sends a mixed message to teens. I believe it can be done and have been developing some materials to help teachers, counselors, parents and health professionals handle this difficult area of youth development.

I enjoy talking with teachers, administrators, counselors, parents and community members about values and character education. I have been a frequent keynote speaker on these topics. To learn more about my publications in this area, including descriptions and ordering information, click here.