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Can Character Be Taught?

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A fascinating discussion at the Aspen Ideas Festival around the question of character education, and whether that should be, or can be, integrated into curriculum. Author Paul Tough, who wrote the provocative article "What if the Secret to Success is Failure," says his research shows that things like perseverance, grit, resourcefulness, integrity, willpower -- what he summarizes in the word "character," can be learned. In this context, how do we then measure success and failure?

Others also weigh in: Dominic Randolph, the head of school at Riverdale Country Day School, a progressive private school in New York; and Russell Shaw, Head of School at Georgetown Day School.

And for further thought, read educator Larry Ferlazzo's retort to the idea of grading character: "Why corrupt the process by assigning numerical values to elements of character? We should focus on encouragement and self-reflection, and help students see how developing these qualities are in their short and long-term self interest."

NBC News Education Nation: Can Character Be Taught? from The Aspen Institute and The Aspen Institute on


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