Comparison of character education in US and Turkish educational systems: Globalizing American Education System, V Cicek, R Ulker, B Tarman

Tags: character education, Educational Studies, Turkey, students, character traits, Faculties of Education, Religion, Aspen Declaration, Ethics, Department of Education, White House Conference, Energy Educ Sci Technol Part, Knowledge, teacher trainees, elementary students, New York, Mekler E. Bringing, Morality in Schools and Youth Settings, Tarman B. Global, teacher education, Martin Luther King Jr. Yearling Books, Perigee Books, Gaziantep Univ Sos Bil Derg, Baytak A. Children, Six Pillars of Character, Robert Carney, moral conduct, Culture, National Education, student, Character Counts Coalition, Character development, Schaps E. Community, Character Development Group, University, Faculty of Education, Department of Primary Education, V. Cicek, educational system, Social Studies Education, Primary Education, ethical values, Internet sources, percent decrease, ethnographic research, core values, Faculty of Education, universal values, Lickona T. Educating, Qualitative Sociology, Corwin Press, Milton J. Marching, Stanford University, Degerler Egit Derg, Borba M., Bantam Books, , San Francisco, CA, Tarman B. Developing, Jossey-Bass, Galahad Books
Content: Energy Education science and technology Part B: Social and Educational Studies 2012 Volume (issue) 4(3): 1311-1322
Comparison of character education in US and Turkish educational systems: Globalizing American education system1 Volkan Cicek1, Riza Ulker2, Bulent Tarman3 1Ishik University, Faculty of Education, Department of Primary Education Erbil, Irak 2Zirve University, Faculty of Education, Department of Primary Education Gaziantep, Turkey 3Selcuk University, Faculty of Education, Department of Primary Education, Konya, Turkey
Received: 10 July 2011; accepted: 15 August 2011
The main purpose of this study is to develop a clear understanding regarding issues surrounding character education in the USA and Turkey. The main question of this study is how similar or dissimilar the two cases are. The similarities and differences are examined within the following contexts: (1) the place and importance of character education in schools in USA and Turkey; (2) the context of character education and its implementations in both countries; (3) the current issues and competing positions in the US and Turkish character education systems and finally (4) how adaptable are these two systems. Character education teaches qualities and values that people universally recognize; these attributes assist people in living and working together as families, friends and neighbors, which in turn leads to successful community life. In the post logical positivism era, in the globalized world of today, rather than taking only one religion or culture as the reference point, redefined character education puts its emphasis on universal moral content to constitute a solution for the worsening societal moral problems. In this study, components of character education at US Kindergarten thru 12th grade schools will be reviewed within the context of legal grounds, history, and teaching methods. In essence, good character education is compatible with universal values, and any educational system can adapt a working system of character education, even the US.
Keywords: Values and Character Education; Social Studies Education, irtue; Maxim; Pillars; Traits; Globalizing
©Sila Science. All rights reserved. ___________ *Corresponding author: Tel.: +90-342-211-6666-6866; fax: +90-342-211-6677. E-mail address: [email protected] (R. Ulker) 1Part of this paper is presented by V. Cicek at 1st International Balkan annual conference: Living Together in Balkans, Skopje, Macedonia, May 2011 with the following title: "Building Peace Through Character Education: A Review of Character Education in US Educational System."
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1. Introduction
This study consists of three main parts: In the first part, there is an extensive literature review on character education system in the US. To better understand and examine character education in the US, we specifically dealt with the following questions in this part: How is character education defined and what is the legal basis of character education in the US? How is government funding issued or used and what are the schools' duties related to implementation of character education? How this education was historically developed in the US? What are the cornerstones of this historical development? What are the general teaching methods or approaches? The second part of this study deals with character education and its historical development in Turkey. The authors examine the issues of character education by focusing on the role of government to design and implement the program in Turkey. In the conclusion of this study the two systems are compared with regard to the effectiveness of this type of education and implementations. Issues and challenges in both systems are discussed. Finally, suggestions to lessen the challenges and create an effective system for both countries are made [1-47].
2. Character education in US: Definition and legal basis of character education
The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) defines character education as "the learning process that enables students and adults in a school community to understand, care about and act on core ethical values such as respect, justice, civic virtue and citizenship, and responsibility for self and others and only upon such core values, attitudes and actions are formed that are the hallmark of safe, healthy and informed communities that serve as the foundation of our society." Character education raises up values embedded in people such as deeds that help people live and work as families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, communities and nations.
The US Department of Education Helping Your Child Become a Responsible Citizen character education guidelines [28] state that "People of many religions and cultures universally recognize the qualities of character education, and the information contained in the booklet can be used by parents from many different backgrounds and with different beliefs." The following list of right is taken from Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution [35]: Life: the individual's right to life should be considered inviolable except in certain highly restricted and extreme circumstances, such as the use of deadly force to protect one's own or others' lives. Liberty: the right to liberty is considered an unalterable aspect of the human condition. Personal freedom: the private realm in which the individual is free to act, to think and to believe. Political freedom: The right to a free flow of information and ideas, open debate and right of assembly; Economic freedom: The rights to acquire, use, transfer and dispose of private property without unreasonable governmental interference; the right to seek employment wherever one pleases; to change employment at will; and to engage in any lawful economic activity. The pursuit of happiness: it is the right of citizens to attempt to attain - "pursue" - happiness in their own way, so long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. Common good: the public or common good requires that individual citizens have the commitment and motivation - that they accept their obligation - to promote the welfare of the community and to work together with other members for the greater benefit of all. Justice: People should be treated fairly in the distribution of the benefits and burdens of society, the correction of wrongs and injuries, and in the gathering of information and making of decisions. Equality: all citizens have political equality and are not denied these rights unless by due process of law; legal equality and should be treated as equals before the law; social equality so as there should be no class hierarchy sanctioned by law; economic equality which tends to strengthen political and social equality for extreme economic inequality tends to undermine all other forms of equality and should therefore be avoided.
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Diversity: variety in culture and ethnic background, race, lifestyle, and belief is not only permissible but desirable and beneficial in a pluralist society. Truth: citizens can legitimately demand that truth telling as refraining from lying and full disclosure by government is the rule, since trust in the veracity of government constitutes an essential element of the bond between governors and governed. popular sovereignty: the citizenry is collectively the sovereign of the state and hold ultimate authority over public officials and their policies.
On the basis of the list of rights from Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution mentioned above, the NCLB act [27] was signed into law January 8, 2002; it contained substantial changes to the Elementary and secondary education Act that was enacted in 1965. NCLB requires American public schools to define their accountability in terms of what each and every student accomplishes. This act emphasizes on four major Basic Education reform principles that are:
Increased accountability for schools Local Control and flexibility Expanded option for parents An emphasis on effective and proven teaching methods As a result, this act aims to ensure that each and every child in America has equal access to education and so that "no child is left behind" and the law does foresee the role of parents, communities, classroom teachers and school administration's roles in this. Via this act, schools are to be places that are disciplined, drug-free and safe all around, which does not prevent students from becoming citizens of good character. Research data reveals that students of strong character with positive values do better in school[22]. On the other hand, negative outcomes such as dropping out of school, drug use, teenage pregnancy, violent crimes occur as a result of not being educated with proper values and behavior when young. For this very reason, Department of Education created the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools [28].
3. Method
A descriptive and ethnographic research approach was applied to content analysis method to conduct a qualitative research. Altheide [1] defines this type of research as "the reflexive analysis of documents". Despite that ethnographic content analysis is less commonly used in educational research; it is a more convenient method for document analyses that is conducted by historians, literary scholars, and other social scientists [14, 31]. Ethnography is a descriptive science of people and their cultures [34]. Thus, the subject matter here, who are the human beings that are engaged in meaningful behavior, guide the way the inquiry is developed as well as the orientation of the investigators [1]. As a consequence, character education naturally reflects the characteristics of the culture where it is taught since one of the indications of a good character education is raising good citizens. In this manner, ethnographic content analysis and descriptive approach methods are used to document and analyze the communication of meaning, also to verify theoretical relationships. The distinction here as Altheide puts it, "is the reflexive and highly interactive nature of the researcher, concepts, data collection and analysis."
Like all ethnographic research, the meaning of a message is assumed to be a reflection of various modes of information exchange, format, rhythm and style (e. g., aural and visual style) as well as in the context of the report itself, and other nuances [1]. Thus, ethnographic content analysis is embedded in constant discovery and constant comparison of relevant situations, settings, styles, images, meanings and nuances [14]. That is what we tried to by comparing the character education in the US and Turkey.
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4. Research data
The data in this study is obtained from variety of soruces such as textbooks, Internet sources, printed literature, and review and research articles about character education systems in both the USA and Turkey. Ethnographic content analysis, thus, is one type of research design that is most appropriate when dealing with such topics. However, while collecting data from the Internet and other sources, the researchers are careful to triangulate the data to verify the integrity of the printed and the Internet sources, textbooks, reports and such. In a 1997 survey conducted by National Association of Secondary School Principals in it is found that 78% of high school educators believe that it is the responsibility of public education to instill a set of common core values in youth in order to prepare them to be good citizens [11]. American Federation of Teachers' study reveals that 95% of all Americans want public schools to teach honesty and the importance of telling the truth and to respect others regardless of their racial or ethnic background and 93% want schools to teach kids to resolve problems without resorting to violence [11]. A study with more than 6000 students in South Dakota reveals that character education programs, which had Aspen and Character Counts Coalition declarations as its basis, resulted in a 15 percent decrease in the number of students who used force in anger (49 percent to 34 percent), an 11 percent decline in shoplifting (34 percent to 23 percent), a 10 percent reduction in the consumption of alcohol (48 percent to 38 percent), and an 8 percent decrease in vandalism (from 25 percent to 17 percent) [29]. Another study with 2,400 students on outcomes of character education based on Aspen and Character Counts Coalition declarations revealed a 32 percent decrease in in-school suspensions, a 38 percent decrease in repeat offenders, a 48 percent decrease in truancy offenses, a 13 percent reduction of insubordination incidents, and a 43 percent increase in participation in extra-curricular activities at Glenbard East High School in Illinois [29].
4.1. Governmental funding Present US legislation authorizes grants related to character education on the basis of Aspen Declaration, which specifies trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. However, grants related to education of additional values may be given if they are justified as well [36].
4.2. Schools' duties related to implementation of character education The NCLB character education brochure [28] states that the time that the students spend in classrooms shall be seen as "an opportunity to explain and reinforce the core values upon which character is formed and also character education must be tackled systematically to include the emotional, intellectual and moral qualities of a person or group". Time spent in classrooms must offer multiple opportunities to learn about, discuss and display positive social behaviors. Student leadership and involvement are crucial for character education to become a part of a student's beliefs and actions." To successfully instill character education, schools shall:
- Provide training for staff on how to incorporate character education into the life and culture of the school; - Take a leadership role to bring the staff, parents and students together to pinpoint and define the elements of character they want to emphasize; - Form a vital partnership with parents and the community so that students hear a consistent message about character traits crucial for success in school and life; and - Provide opportunities for school leaders, teachers, parents and community partners to model excellent character traits and social behaviors.
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4.3. History of character education in the US In American history, due to many hardships endured throughout time, there was a recognition that for a democracy to work the country needed "citizens of virtue." During the course of 1800s, teachings of the Bible was incorporated into the curriculum while between the 1900s and 1930s with increasing diversity and secularization which led America becoming a nation of melting pot of cultures, additional character education teaching tools were used. Among these tools were McGuffrey readers, which were the primary texts to teach reading heavily laced with ethical messages, and penmanship lessons, that is copying maxims about wisdom and virtue as means of teaching the " natural virtues" such as honesty, hard work, thriftiness, kindness, patriotism, and courage [8,16]. After 1930s up until 1960s character education witnessed a decline due to emergence of logical positivism. Logical positivism out ruled character education claiming that it is not needed since there cannot be provable moral truths or objective standards of right and wrong. Other approaches such as moral relativism, the view that claims there are no universal ethical standards since all moral values simply a creation of culture, and individualism, each person should be free to choose his or her own values supported logical positivism in out ruling character education [16]. Character education began again in 1960s but this time focusing more on "process" or thinking skills, reasoning about dilemma, moral dilemma discussions, and decision making process opposed to the traditional emphasis that was on moral content; learning right from wrong and acting rightly [16]. In 1990s, concept of character education was broadened building on the experience not taking references from a particular religion or culture. Martin Luther King Jr. supported this stating "Intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character; that is the goal of true education" [24].
4. 4. Aspen declaration Aspen declaration is a seminal character development document established in 1992. It consists of eight principles emphasizing the nature, content and importance of character education. Aspen declaration aims to develop a common vocabulary defining character thus establishes TRRFCC, six core ethical values; Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. As a basis for character education using TRRFCC, Aspen declaration states the following:
1. The next generation will be the stewards of our communities, nation, and planet in extraordinarily critical times. 2. The present and future well being of our society requires an involved, caring citizenry with good moral character. 3. People do not automatically develop good moral character; therefore, conscientious efforts must be made to help young people develop the values and abilities necessary for moral decision-making and conduct. 4. Effective character education is based on core ethical values, which form the foundation of democratic society, in particular, respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, justice and fairness, and civic virtue and citizenship. 5. These core ethical values transcend cultural, religious, and socio-economic differences. 6. Character education is, most importantly, a responsibility of families; it is also an important responsibility of faith communities, schools, youth and other human service establishments. 7. The responsibility to develop character is best satisfied when these groups work together. 8. The character and conduct of our youth reflect the character and conduct of society; therefore, every adult has the responsibility to teach and model the core ethical values and every social institution has the responsibility to promote the development of good character.
4. 5. The six pillars of character: T.R.R.F.C.C.
TRRFCC aims to establish a common vocabulary so that communicating on the basis of character education in this diverse and globalized world is possible. This way, the qualities of a great person can be described. Word "terrific" can be used as an acronym to remember TRRFCC that is
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Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. These six core values embody other values. Subcomponents of T.R.R.F.C.C. are:
Trustworthiness: Being truthful and dependable, (doing what you promised), having the bravery to do the right thing, building a good reputation, being faithful to family, friends, and country, not misleading, cheating, or thieving. Respecting: Treating others with respect, being tolerant of differences, having good manners and not bad language, being understanding others' feelings, not threatening, hitting, or hurting anyone, dealing peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements. Responsibility: Doing what you are supposed to do, perseverance to continue trying, always doing your best, using selfdiscipline, being self-disciplined, thinking before acting (considering the consequences), being accountable for your choices. Fairness: Playing by the rules, taking turns and sharing, being open-minded; listening to others, not taking advantage of others, not blaming others carelessly. Caring: Being kind and compassionate (showing you care), expressing appreciation, forgiving others, helping people in need. Citizenship: Doing your part to make your school and community better, cooperating, staying informed (voting), being a good neighbor, following laws and rules, respecting authority, caring for the environment.
For successful implementation of the character education program that is based on the Aspen Declaration and T.R.R.F.C.C., Character Counts Coalition has declared the following:
1. Character development initiatives will be more effective and sustainable if they are based on shared nonpolitical, secular values ­ a common vocabulary ­ that promote unity of purpose and process. 2. Character education goals can be best achieved when families; schools, schools, faith communities, youth and other human service and civic and business organizations collaborate and work in concert. 3. The six core ethical values the Six Pillars of Character developed and enunciated in the Aspen Declaration constitute an excellent framework for character education. 4. The Six Pillars of Character are not a curriculum but a strategic framework for teaching and evaluating character and the foundation for collaboration among all constituencies interested in character education. 5. Advocacy of the Six Pillars of Character as common vocabulary is designed to consolidate rather than fragment energies and to professionalize the process of character education by concentrating resources on a simple, widely attractive structure. 6. Adherence to and advocacy of collaboration and community unity based on a common vocabulary permits major economies, promotes partnerships and yields the best possible chance of creating effective and sustainable character education initiatives. 7. Character education works best when it is pervasive, when consensus ethical values are conscientiously, continually and competently taught, enforced, advocated and modeled (T.E.A.M.) throughout the school and community environment and integrated into substantive classes as well as reading and writing assignments, standards of conduct regulating student and adult behavior on playgrounds, and in school buses, cafeterias, assemblies and sports programs. 8. While public education can and should play an important role in character building, the primary responsibility starts and remains at home with parents and other caregivers. 9. Effective character education in school should not be treated simply an add-on responsibility but as an intrinsic part of educational responsibilities and systemic school and community improvement. 10. Moral literacy should be considered as an inseparable and critical dimension of all educational reforms, not as a distinct or separate consideration. 11. The government must not attempt to take on the primary responsibility for moral education; its promotion of character education should, wherever possible, support and strengthen efforts of parents and others in the home. 12. Character education efforts should be judged through rigorous evaluation criteria in terms of their effectiveness in modifying attitudes and behavior.
4. 6. Character education/teaching methods Effective and efficient character education program must include context-specific curricula strategies that are developmentally appropriate. These context-specific curricula strategies are designed to reach the mind as the cognitive domain, the heart as the affective domain and the habits as the behavioral domain [22]. Successful character education uses the tools of literature, drama, art and music; story telling, the study of heroes, direct didactic instruction, sports and every other imaginable
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method of simulating ethical consciousness and commitment so that the youth is competent to make sound moral choices [23, 33]. Other resources character education may benefit from includes but not limited to posters, workbooks, games, songs, videotapes and T-shirts. Other activities during character education classes and on other occasions may include:
- Prompts for class or group discussions - Individual or group activities - A parent-child activity - An organization-wide character consciousness-raising program - A school, district, community, or state contest
4. 7. The Carney method Robert Carney was a teacher in Ventura, California, who taught writing skills to seventh and eighth grade students for over 20 years. He developed an intensive writing program that incorporated words of wisdom. Mr. Carney started every class with a Quotation Reflection. Three students who had each selected a quote of interest would present a concise analysis of how this quote applied to them personally as well as to youth today. To encourage focused and disciplined writing, the presentations could not exceed one minute, and every student presented a minimum of three per quarter [5, 7, 21, 37]. The Quotation Reflection format was very structured:
- Each student's presentation began with a recitation of the quote and naming of the source. - Then the student interpreted the quote's meaning in his or her own words. - After restating the quote and attribution, the student shared an instance in his or her life when this quote was applicable. - Next, the student explained how the quote related to the lives of young people today. - The presentation ended with the student repeating the quote and attribution one last time.
Many of the best reflections were showcased from memory before an audience of 300-400 during three evening programs each year. The Quotation Reflection activity encourages students to search for quotes meaningful to them. At three quotes a day, by the end of the school year, students have heard about 540 quotes in class alone, not to mention the countless other quotes students come across in their quest for just the right one to present. Since the presentations are only one minute each, the activity takes up hardly any time during the period, even if the teacher adds a few minutes for discussion after the Reflections. Nonetheless, it can have a powerful and enduring impact not only on students' analytical and writing skills, but also on their character [18, 25, 26]. School wide Activities: Schools can [19]:
- include a maxim selected and have it read by a different student each morning during morning announcements - allow time in homeroom periods for students to discuss what they felt the author meant by the quote and the students' thoughts about the quote (whether they liked it, whether it had meaning in their lives, whether its meaning transcends time). The purpose is to get the entire school community to begin thinking homogeneously about the values that the maxims communicate. This process reinforces the importance of character both in individuals and among groups. - display a poster with the maxim written in large letters on one of the school's walls. The maxims posted throughout the halls serve as constant reminders of what has been discussed and encourage students to think further about the messages presented.
5. Character education in Turkey: Teaching values in the Turkish educational system
Turkish teachers use important historical figures: their life stories and quotes to teach character education. For example, Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi said, "Patience is the key to joy" [15]. Yunus Emre is another historical figure that is widely referenced when teaching values in Turkish Educational
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System. "When you lose your property, you lose nothing; when you lose your health, you lose something; however, when you lose your character, you lose everything" [12] (Turkish Proverb). According to National Education Basic Law, under the section of "Goals of National Education", it states the goal of National Education is to rise up individuals who adopt moral and spiritual values: who are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually sound, and who have a healthy personality and character [12].
5. 1. History of character education in Turkey Character Education in Turkey has progressed through various stages over the years. In the past it was taught as a separate course called "Musahabat-i ahlakiye"; in this class, teachers used real life examples to assist students to comprehend certain moral issues. Teachers presented case studies or told stories with a moral ending, it was expected that students would internalize these into their personal value system. The idea was that students would slowly internalize these values and start making a habit of them [30, 46-47]. During 1974-1975 educational year, mandatory character education classes were started for 4th., 5th., 6th., 7th., and 8th. Grades. During 1975-1976 educational year, character education classes were started for the last year of high school and vocational schools. According to the 24th. Item of 1982 constitution, Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics became one of the mandatory classes that were taught to elementary, middle and high school students. Since 1982, this class has been taught two hours a week to 4th to 8th graders and one hours a week to high school and vocational school students by certified teachers [2]. Until the revision of the elementary school system in 2004, values existed as " Latent Acquisitions" in the curriculum. Today, character education classes are considered to be a part of the general curriculum vs. a stand-alone course. Values are stated directly as part of the curriculum and students are motivated to gain them [40]. In 2006, the Ministry of National Education issued an action plan against school violence. The conclusion of this action plan states in order to prevent or decrease school violence by elementary and secondary school students, a course combined with character education and conflict resolution techniques is an effective solution to prevent negative behaviors of students.
5. 2. Effects of culture of religion knowledge of ethics course on student behavior A study done by Kaya [17] examined the effects of ethical topics in the course of Culture of Religion Knowledge of Ethics on behaviors of elementary students. Two types of data collection methods were used in the study; a questionnaire and an ethical behavior inventory (A Likert Type Scale). These questionnaires were administered to a total of 443 students, 213 girls and 230 boys. Independent variables in this study were; gender, achievement in the course, love for the course and love for its teacher, the techniques used for teaching the course and the degree of liking those methods, and the materials used for the course. It was found that those who were more successful in the general courses and in the course of Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics, those who liked the course more and its teacher, liked the methods more and techniques used in the teaching of the course had significantly higher moral conduct points than others. There was not a significant difference in the number of moral conduct points between girls and boys. High achieving students in general courses had more moral conduct points. High achieving students in the course of Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics had more moral conduct points. Students who liked the course of Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics had more moral conduct points. Students who liked the teacher of Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics course had more moral conduct points. Students who liked the methods and the materials used in Culture of
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Religion and Knowledge of Ethics course had more moral conduct points. Most of the Students expressed that Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics course had effects on their behavior [17]
5. 3. Issues of character education in Turkey To-date character education classes are still not taught as a separate course. Faculties of Education at the University level have not adopted character education courses as a part of their curriculum. This results in future teachers graduating without the skills to teach character education classes in the K-12 educational settings. Research studies, globally, indicate that character/value traits differ from culture to culture. There is still a question regarding which character traits or values should be taught in the Turkish K-12 educational system. There are studies investigating elementary students' and teacher trainees' inclination to think about value preferences. Research conducted by Yigittir et al. [40] survey methodology was used to determine value preferences of elementary students. The study was conducted in nine elementary schools randomly selected from districts of Ankara. In total, 1232 student survey forms (651 males and 664 males) were analyzed. Results reveal that students give more emphasis to values regarding the environment, e.g., environmental cleanup, environmental sensitivity and love for nature. Elementary students also show tendencies toward values that seem to take an important role in interpersonal relationships (i.e., love, respect, tolerance, helpfulness, honesty). Tendencies towards refraining from the use of bad words and behaviors and the value of wanting to be good people show those students are against the concepts of violence and being immoral. It is concluded that textbooks and media are effective tools in teaching environmental values. Elementary students emphasized national values very little. It is suggested that, elementary students should be taught values that reinforce national, democratic and societal unity. Another conclusion reached in the study is that elementary students were not successful learners of certain values alone; there should be collaboration among families, schools and the community to teach values. In these activities, media institutions should take an active role and contribute positively to the process [40-45.] An additional study by Dilmac [41] investigated value preferences of teacher trainees at a university Faculty of Education. The study sample consisted of 637 (423 male, 214 female) teacher trainees registered at Selcuk University, during the 2007-2008 academic year. Three types of data collection methods were employed in the study; interviews, open-ended and Likert type questionnaires. The findings of the study indicate a gender difference in terms of the values of universalism, selfdirection and power. While the difference was statistically significant for boys for the values of universalism and self-direction, it was statistically significant for girls for value of power. Girls report that they attach more importance to the values of hedonism, self-direction, universalism, benevolence, tradition and security than boys and boys attach more importance to the values of power, achievement, stimulation and conformity than girls. The most important values expressed by teacher trainees who participated in the research were universalism, security, benevolence and self-direction. These research findings display similarities to the findings of previous research conducted in Turkey [10].
5. 4. Solutions for effective character education in Turkey First, there is a need for wide social agreement on which character traits should be taught. After widely agreed character traits are finalized, all systems of the country should focus on teaching the same values. For example, Turkish national media should not teach conflicting character traits. Also, In order to prevent a conflict between what the families are teaching and what is being taught in schools, and working with the parent-teacher associations, educational seminars should be prepared for parents. Character education begins in the family and continues until end of life. However, it does not end with
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family. Stages of character education in school settings should be adjusted to what the individual is experiencing outside the school [48-53]. Second, university Faculties of Education should establish courses on character education within their curriculum. By taking Turkey's current situation into consideration, educational programs that are compatible with character education should be prepared. In courses for character education, appropriate approaches should be picked and applied. Also, in order to improve current teachers' knowledge about character education, additional in-service training should be implemented. Finally, assessment tools used in the measurement of values should be researched and their deficiencies should be fixed [39].
6. Conclusion: Comparing the two systems
As we examine the character education and its implementations in the US and Turkey, we understood that both system are so different from each other in terms of legality of the courses and approaches of the two governments to character education. While it is mandatory by the government in Turkey, it is optional but schools are encouraged to include this course in their program in the American education system. Extra funding is provided to those schools that include these courses in the curriculum. While obligation is the main difference between the two countries, one common challenge or issue is to deal with this question: which values to teach and whom will decide to chose them? Because of the social diversity and existence of variety of values associated with different ethnic and religious groups, it has been debated for a long time what values and whose values will be taught. Although this is not historically debated in Turkey as much as the US, today this is becoming a big challenge for Turkey. The US experience to deal with this issue can provide an idea for Turkish officials to develop a plan how to deal with this issue. Another important issue is to establish a consensus on universal values to teach: How universal those values are? Is there a consensus for those values in both countries? How sustainable of those values? With rapid changes in different systems around world, how these values are getting changed? How is it reflected in the education systems? How adaptable are the two systems? With the Aspen declaration established in 1992 in US, a consensus on what universal values to teach was reached. It was consisting of eight principles about the nature, content and importance of character education and articulating a common vocabulary of six core ethical values defining character (T.R.R.F.C.C.); Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. There is still no consensus in Turkey on what universal values to teach. Although, there is a class called "Culture of Religion and Knowledge of Ethics", character education classes in Turkey are not taught as a separate course at Middle School and High School Level, unlike the US example. Character education in elementary level in both countries is embedded in different subjects. Faculties of Education at the University level in US and Turkey have not adopted character education courses as a part of their curriculum. This results in future teachers graduating without the skills to teach character education classes in the K-12 educational settings. Both Countries use important historical figures; their life stories and quotes to teach character Education. For example, Dr. Martin Luther King and George Washington in US; Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi and Yunus Emre in Turkey. Use of this method is more structured in US with the Maxim-Based in-Class or Homework Essay Assignments.
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