The failure of Modern Character Education

Kevin Ryan


This paper argues that the recent negative findings concerning the efficacy of the seven leading character education programs in the United States is due primarily to three endemic causes. First is a narrow, positivistic notion of what constitutes human character. Second, efforts at the character education of children are embedded in an empirical conception of education which keeps character education isolated from the larger philosophical and theological questions which surround it. And, third, the wisdom and legitimacy of the current policy in the United States and elsewhere of turning over the education of the young to the modern state is questioned.

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