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What is Character? Virtue Ethics in Education

University of Birmingham via FutureLearn

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Overview

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Character education is increasingly being talked about by politicians, employers, teachers, parents and young people across the world. Can teaching virtues such as honesty, self-control, fairness, resilience and respect - which contribute to good character - be part of the solution to many of the challenges facing society today?

This free online course offers you the opportunity to understand virtues and the role they play in helping both individuals and society flourish. We will tap into this increasing interest and answer important questions such as what is character and character education, why is it important and can it be taught? For those interested in extending their learning it will also provide a taster course for the exciting new MA in Character Education run by the University of Birmingham.

Learn with academic experts and practising teachers

We will draw on the insights of academics from the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues within the School of Education at the University of Birmingham. These leading experts in the fields of character education and virtue ethics will help you explore the theoretical and philosophical basis for character education, including a background to virtue ethics.

You’ll also meet teachers and head teachers with first-hand experience of the transformative power of implementing character education in day-to-day practices within a school. They’ll discuss how character might be taught in a conscious, planned and reflective way, enabling you to gain practical knowledge on taking character education into educational settings.

You can learn according to your interests and at your convenience. Each week has been divided into activities which can be completed together or individually:

Week 1: An Introduction to Character Education

Week 2: Character Education in Practice

  • How can character be ‘caught’ in schools? (Gary Walsh, Head Teacher)

  • Why should character be taught in schools? (Dan Wright, Teaching Fellow)

You can also explore each area in as much depth as you wish, with further reading materials available to those who want to learn more about particular aspects of the course.

This course will help you understand character, character education, virtue ethics and the role they play in both individual and societal flourishing.

It will be of particular interest to those who wish to explore how the development of character in young people can be applied in educational settings.

No prior knowledge of the subject area is required. This course has relevance across the world.

Syllabus

Week 1: An Introduction to Character Education

What is character education and why does it matter? (Professor James Arthur)

What is the philosophical basis for character education and what virtues constitute good character? (Professor Kristján Kristjánsson)

Week 2: Character Education in Practice

How can character be ‘caught’ in schools? (Gary Walsh, Head Teacher)

Why should character be taught in schools? (Dan Wright, Teaching Fellow)

You can also explore each area in as much depth as you wish, with further reading materials available to those who want to learn more about particular aspects of the course.

Taught by

Dr Tom Harrison

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