• Character
  • Integrity
  • Trust
  • Relationships
  • Success

Key Definitions

I. CHARACTER

  • A person’s pattern of behavior, thoughts and feelings that are based on sound principles, moral judgements, integrity and the “line you never cross.”
  • It is evidenced by virtuous actions in both the moral and performance areas of one’s life.
  • Experts have divided chacter education into two parts – “performance character” (maximizing one’s performance in every area of his or her life) and “moral character” (always choosing to do the right, honest and ethical thing).

A. PRINCIPLES

  • Universally accepted standards of conduct
  • Universally accepted rules of doing right and avoiding wrong
  • Historical or religious origins

EXAMPLES:

  • “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” The Golden Rule
  • “All men are created equal” The Declaration of Independence
  • “Love they neighbor as thy self” New Testament
  • “Thou shalt not lie, cheat, or steal” The Ten Commandments
  • “Do no harm” Hippocratic Oath
  • “In all things, charity” Richard Baxter
  • “Individual rights – life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” Declaration of Independence
  • “We should not be judged by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

B. MORALITY (MORALS)

  • Conforming to standards of human conduct.
  • A person’s decision on choosing right and avoiding wrong.
  • Morals comes from the Latin word “Moralis” which is a combination of two other Latin words – “mos”  (meaning customs, traditions, or habits) and “alis” (which means people). Putting the two words together, “moralis,” means customs of the people. The English derivative is the word morals.

EXAMPLE:

“I choose not to cheat on the exam.”- “Thou shalt not cheat” is the principle, and choosing not to cheat is the moral decision.

C. INTEGRITY

  • Adhering to a moral code of honesty, courage, strength, responsibility and uprightness in everything you do.
  • Being true to your word.

EXAMPLE:

“A person lives a life of integrity by having the courage to be honest, truthful, and to keep his promises”

Note: Although closely related:

Principles = standards of conduct

Morality = conforming to those standards of conduct

Integrity = the quality of always living those standards


II. VIRTUES VS. VALUES

A. VIRTUES

  • The admirable trait or quality of doing good and avoiding wrong that has become a habit
  • Qualities of moral excellence considered to be good
  • Conforming to morality by abstention from vices
  • CITRS 10 Primary Virtues are: Integrity, Self-control, Justice, Fortitude, Positive Attitude, Humility, Respect, Wisdom, Love and Charity

B. VALUES

  • A quality or standard deemed desirable by an individual, group, or a society
  • A value is a quality of a thing that makes it desirable
  • Values, unlike virtues, are not habits or always acts of moral good
  • While values and virtues often intersect, the list of values is much broader than the list of virtues

EXAMPLE:

“John Doe values having many material possessions, having many girlfriends, and being the toughest man on his block.”

Note: A person’s or society’s values are based on personal preferences, desires or tastes and may change from time to time. Virtues, however, are unchanging and rooted in historical principles, morals and righteous acts.


III. ETHICS

  • A code or set of rules governing groups of individuals or societies
  • The study of a person’s moral choices and right and wrong
  • Evaluating the moral quality of a course of action
  • Ethics – comes from the Greek word “ethos” which means what ought to be. The English derivative is the word ethics.
  • Differences between Ethics and Morals: Ethics relate to societies or groups of people whereas Morals relate to individuals; Ethics relate more to the set of rules to follow in professional lives whereas morals relate more to what individuals follow independently; Ethics refer more to the study of one’s choices about right and wrong, whereas Morals refer more to the individual’s personal decision or choice to do right or wrong; Ethics define a code that a group of people adhere to while morality delves into right and wrong on a personal level. (Manisha, 2009. Differences between Ethics and Morals.)

An ethical person tries to discern what is right or wrong with reference to his moral duties and obligations. Thus, ethics is connected to morality and character.

Note: The ethics of a group may sometimes conflict with an individual’s moral choice

EXAMPLE:

John is a lawyer who is ethically required to defend his client (legal ethics are group choices among lawyers) even though he knows his client is guilty (individual moral dilemma).

Virtues, however, are unchanging and rooted in historical principles, morals and righteous acts.


IV. SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL)

  • The development of fundamental skills for life, including how to relate with oneself, others and relationships, and work effectively.
  • An approach to learning that helps a student become a socially and emotionally skilled person.
  • According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning – CASEL (2011), extensive studies have found that Social Emotional Learning (SEL) enhances academic achievement, helps students develop self-management and self-control, improves relationships at all levels of the school community, reduces conflict among students, improves teachers’ classroom management, and helps young people to be healthier and more successful in school and life (retrieved from: www.casel.org).