Chidiac: character development at the heart of education

Character development is central to raising our children, says columnist Gerry Chidiac.

The constant quest for truth is a fascinating journey. One of the most powerful truths ever told was made by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who explained that there are only two races of people, the decent and the indecent, and that they found in each group.

I tend to lean to the left of the political spectrum on many issues, but I value the opinions of those on the right because I know the best solutions to our problems come when we share ideas.

During a recent foray into right-wing perspectives, I found a video of a well-known pundit talking to his followers about people like me. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and thought it was a fake video made to discredit the man. As I researched, I found the video on his own website.

Dennis Prager, the co-founder of video hosting site PragerU, said: “For people on the right, the path to a better society is almost always through the moral improvement of the individual… For people on the left , the path to a better society almost always fights against the moral defects of society.

The truth is that there are immoral people in both groups; the vast majority of people on the left and on the right strive to be the best people they can be. Few would dispute this statement attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Prager is also very critical of American schools, and I suspect he would have the same opinion of Canadian public schools. “With the rise of left-wing ideas, character education has all but disappeared from American schools. Children don’t learn to focus on their faults but on America’s faults. Social issues replaced character education.

Looking at the K-12 curriculum in British Columbia, I see that character development is at the heart of raising our children. He says, “People who are personally aware and responsible demonstrate self-respect, persevere in difficult situations, and exercise responsibility. They understand that there are consequences for their decisions and actions.

This reflects the focus on self-regulated learning, meaning helping children recognize how they learn, teaching them to set and achieve goals, and celebrate the inevitable progress that follows. . These are valuable lessons that enable children to be lifelong learners and productive citizens.

With a greater emphasis on Indigenous culture in Canadian schools, there is also an emphasis on character building, as expressed by different Indigenous groups across the country. These include moral principles such as honesty, courage, wisdom, humility and love.

In other words, what Prager says about our schools is simply wrong. I treasure the time I spend with my students studying books like Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (his account of surviving Nazi concentration camps) and Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. That being the case, I find Prager’s words not only false but deeply insulting.

Dennis Prager offers overly simplistic generalizations from people who disagree with him, and, at least in the examples above, his statements are wrong. This is never helpful, especially in an increasingly polarized society.

We must be able to dialogue with those who have different opinions. In other words, we must listen and then respond with logical counter-arguments if necessary.

Mr. Prager is entitled to his website and his opinions, and I am grateful for the freedom to refute his statements. As the great American scholar Noam Chomsky said, “If we don’t believe in free speech for those we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.

Sara H. Byrd