The moral education parents provide their children is perhaps even more important than the love parents feel for their children. A child's character is formed by the moral education from the parents.
Good character keeps us on the right path and helps us in troubled times. Poor character will lead the richest, best educated, most powerful person into failure.
The Early Years
Parents work on their child's character development from birth, whether they know it or not. It is good for the schools to support moral education and the early years are the best years for that. The foundation is laid in K - 3, and we can continue to nurture character development in 4th and 5th grades. From 6th through 12th grade, we can try to keep our children on track, but it is generally too late to start character development.
The schools should support character development, but parents need to lead that effort. Parents need a coherent system of ethics and morality they believe in, they practice, and they teach to their children. Many parents have religious convictions, and that can work well within the family and church. It is difficult, if not impossible, for a public school to become involved with religion.
Morality and Public Education
It would be good to find a system of ethics that is not linked to a religion that can be embraced by parents of all religious persuasions. A non-religious system of ethic could bridge religious differences and be compatible with public education.
There are excellent books from the Chinese culture that could be useful. After years of promoting the Analects and the Great Learning, I have decided the work of Cicero might be more accessible because it is a part of Western culture.
Cicero's work, On Duties (De Officiis), is a brilliant book on practical morality. Cicero wrote the book for his 21year old son.
Parents can read this book, digest it, and pass along its lessons to their children. We cannot hand this book to young children, but we can extract its lessons, exemplify the noble character it describes, and use its wisdom to guide our children. The lessons from De Officiis can be used in public schools, but it is up to parents and educators to work together to make that happen.
Augustine, in his Confessions, said Cicero and Plato helped prepare him for Christianity. Great people from the past have had their lives enriched by studying Cicero and Plato. To prepare our children for the challenges of a turbulent and competitive future, we should help them study Cicero and Plato.
Better Leaders for a Better Future
America, the whole world, is coming into difficult times. Our leaders today have not been as successful as our great leaders of the past. To safeguard our children's future, we cannot leave it to chance to deliver great leaders to us, we must take control of our own destiny. We need better leaders for a better future, so we should work to develop our children into better leaders. Good character is a vital quality of good leaders, so character development is a vital part of education.
Modeling Leadership for Our Children
We teach our children by what we do. To teach our children leadership, we show them how it is done. Plano parents gathered and discussed our hopes and goals for our children's and grandchildren's future. A copy of our goals is here on this website. We plan to meet again to discuss working on these goals.