Saturday, June 29, 2013

Building Moral Intelligence

Character Ed. Conference: Part 1

I had the opportunity to attend a national conference on character education put on by Character Plus June 17-19.  WOW!  Was it fantastic.  I came home bursting with excitement over all the awesome things I learned.  I will be blogging a number of entries to share some of the highlights.
Day 1 started out with keynote speaker Dr. Michele Borba .  

I was excited to hear being somewhat familiar with her work in the area of parenting and character ed.  She opened the conference talking about the importance of teaching our kids empathy and a framework for building moral intelligence.  She presented a triangle showing the moral core.  The top of the core was empathy.   Empathy goes across all socio domains. We don’t only see it in  the upper class, it is seen in every class, race or socio economic group.  If kids were taught empathy we would see a reduction in bullying.  We need to ask kids where the hot spots are in schools for bullying and make sure staff is present in those areas.  When kids are caught being mean or bullying others we need to ask “Was that helpful or hurtful?  What are you going to do to be helpful?”.  Teachers need to offer the ground seeds of empathy which are that kids feel their teacher cared and was fair.
The second part of the core is conscience.  She asked us to think about which virtues we want to see in our grads at graduation.  We need to inspire and push them to be the best they can be.  Moral dilemmas are one way to do this.  Give kids different moral dilemmas and make them give reasons for what they choose.  Put them in student focus groups which creates discussion and reasoning among the students.  She presented the Rule of 21 which is the number of days it takes to learn a habit if it is practiced each day for at least one minute.  
The third part of the triangle is self-control.  Students need to learn how to control their impulses.  The inability to solve problems is one reason why kids are bullied.  Kids are bullying other kids because they have a lack of empathy and are impulsive.  The inability to solve problems is a result of kids being rescued by adults and parents.  We need to help kids learn how to solve problems.  She gave the following example for teaching kids to STAND up to a bully.  S=Stop. Chill.  (sit and think).  T=Tell what’s wrong.  A=Ask alternatives.  N=Narrow choices and D=Decide best choice.  
I thought this session gave us great information to take back to work with our students, schools, and communities in building character.  Dr. Borba left me wanting more, which is why I am currently reading her book, Building Moral Intelligence.  

I would encourage you to check out her blog entry which goes into more detail than what I have shared here. To read her blog click here. She shares 36 ways to boost kid character and moral growth. Also, check out her website to find out more great parenting and information on kids.