Character Matters: Giving Voice to the Boys — Sandra Boyes, Crescent School, Canada

  • Pedagogical Approaches (2011-12)

Valued by schools all over the world, character education programmes have an ability to “improve student levels of respect and responsibility”(Duer, Parisi & Valentis 2002, p. 5). How do schools, however, make these programmes meaningful for their students? Do students see the character education programmes in their schools as valuable and relevant in their lives?

It was these questions that prompted an action research project focused on re-developing the character awards structure of Crescent’s Lower School’s Character Education Programme (CEP). The focus of the project, which was inspired by the work of researchers Reichert and Hawley (2010), and Cox (2012), was the inclusion and recognition of student voice in the re-fashioning of the CEP. Video recorded data were collected from teacher-led student focus group discussions over a period of four months.

Analysis of the data indicated that the students were positively and profoundly empowered by the responsibility and opportunity to lead in the revision of the awards structure in the CEP. The results are also significant because the students’ level of engagement, empowerment and reflection led to a successful overhaul of the existing programme; changes that have been celebrated and implemented fully by the school community.