News: Medal of Honor Presentation

Medal of Honor Presentation

Ed DeRoche addresses seminar attendees

Ed DeRoche addresses seminar attendees

We had our own July 4th celebration when the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation’s staff and two experienced California teachers provided pre-conference seminar attendees with a one-day training program. They focused on “lessons of personal bravery and self-sacrifice” as “a teaching resource designed by teachers to provide students with opportunities to explore” virtues such as courage, patriotism, commitment, integrity, sacrifice, and citizenship.

Forty attendees were thrilled to meet, in person, Jay Vargas, a Medal of Honor recipient, and receive the Foundation’s excellent and comprehensive instructional kit of resources, lessons, DVDs and black-line masters.

I want to share some representative observations from attendees, which I have edited.

I really felt a connection to the importance of service to others and how character truly counts; it was powerful and meaningful.

Learning about the value of character education has made me determined to add

Jay Vargas, Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient

Jay Vargas, Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient

character education into my classroom’s curriculum. Our nation was founded on the values that exist in service and this should not be forgotten. I feel very humbled to know about several Medal of Honor recipients and their stories, and that they were willing to open up, and at moments be vulnerable in order to share the love, selflessness, respect, and determination that have for their country and friends.

I found the vignettes to be informative and thought provoking: perfect material for my future world history classroom. Beyond the reminders of the costs of war, the seminar encouraged me to reflect on the importance of service to others. I believe that this is truly an important life perspective to cultivate in our students and ourselves.

One of the important things I took from this program, which I think is a good lesson for students also, is that you don’t necessarily need to be special to do something great. The message that I kept getting from the different men in the videos was that they did not think they did anything great or deserved all this attention and honor, they were just doing what they thought was the right thing to do. This is a powerful message because I think it can encourage students to choose to create values and beliefs of what is right.

From this seminar, one thing that I learned and found special was that I went home with a new meaning and awareness of what it means to be selfless and to sacrifice.As an elementary school teacher, I feel that this program would be extremely beneficial especially to the upper grades (i.e. grades 4-6) because it teaches students about the greater good and serving others before oneself. Learning about these qualities that the Medal of Honor recipients possess allows for thought provoking discussions and sharing of experiences.

Character education is something that I am extremely passionate about and will be intertwined throughout all aspects of my future classroom community. In certain classroom environments (potentially upper-elementary through high school), the Medal of Honor Curriculum would be a fabulous way to integrate character education with the study of wartime history.

The seminar provided an opportunity for me to reflect on the character traits of commitment, courage, sacrifice, patriotism, citizenship, and integrity as a person and educator.

As I see it, teachers should use the MOH resources and virtues/traits as a framework to introduce students to the characteristics and stories of heroes and heroines in many fields and professions. Teachers might retain the “medal” theme offering students units and lessons about the “Presidential Medal of Freedom,” the “Presidential Citizens Medal,” the “Liberty Medal” and the “Nobel Peace Prize,” to name a few.

What we are really talking about here is offering young people positive role models that may influence them in their studies, their relations, their behaviors, and their careers.

Blog Post: The 8 C’s of Character

The 8 C’s of Character
By Ed Deroche

There are only two C’s in “character,” but one can find many words that begin with C in describing good, positive character traits and behaviors. I’ve compiled a few C words that show the attributes of character.

  1. Caring: Two important synonyms are “compassion” and “empathy.” Robert Krzaric wrote in The Greater Good’s e-newsletter that caring-empathy is one’s “ability to step into another person’s shoes, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.” Most importantly, he notes that new research suggests that caring-empathy is “a habit we can cultivate.”
  2. Choice: Living a life of good character doesn’t happen by chance, nor does it happen by circumstance. It happens by choice. One of my favorite character education authors, Hal Urban, reminds us that no matter what the circumstances — “people, places, times, things, conditions” — your choices determine your actions and behaviors, not the circumstances. Somewhere in this C word, I sense virtues like respect, responsibility, perseverance.
  3. Citizenship: Two social studies specialists once wrote that the purpose of schooling is not to help people be better off, but to be better scholars, citizens and workers. They noted that a multicultural society needs roots. These roots, they said, are described in our founding documents, in our symbols and slogans, and in our personal and public civic virtues. Our schools, therefore, are called to educate the young to uphold (and sometimes challenge) core virtues such as trustworthiness, fairness, patriotism, justice, courage, responsibility, respect and honesty.
  4.  Common sense: “Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.  He is survived by his four stepbrothers I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame,  I Am a Victim.” (CS Obituary printed in the London Times, date and author unknown)
  5. Company: “Character is how you behave in response to the company (peer groups, friends, family) you keep, seen and unseen,” according to psychologist Robert Coles in  “The Call of Stories.” Who are the virtuous, the responsible agents, the moral teachers, and the positive role models that keep company with our young people? Is it their peer group, the entertainment industry, the Internet, Facebook, YouTube?
  6. Conscience: From the B.C. comic strip Pearls of Wisdom: “A conscience is what hurts when everything else feels great.” No need for further comment.
  7. Consequences: The penalty we pay or the internal-external rewards we receive from the choices we make. Behaviors have consequences — some positive, some negative. People make mistakes, including people of good character. But these people have what might be called “character strengths.” They hold themselves accountable, take responsibility, pay the consequences, learn from their mistakes and do not repeat them.
  8. Courage: As adults, we know our courage is tested daily. The young can be taught to meet the personal and social challenges to do the right thing; to stand up for their own and other’s rights; to make difficult decisions particularly when such decisions may not be easy or popular; and to have the courage to say “no” when invited to cheat, bully, harass or be unfair, impolite or disrespectful to others. As Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The time is always right to do what is right.”  What C words would you add to the list? Why?

Ed DeRoche is a former teacher, administrator, school board member, and dean. He has written several books and articles on character education. Currently he is the director of the Character Development Center at the University of San Diego and teaches in-class and online courses on instructional strategies, curriculum and programs, and character-based classroom management.