Monday, January 28, 2008

How to Do Character Education (Part II)

Build a Caring Community

By “caring community” we mean that everybody in the school—students, staff, administration—treats everyone else with kindness and respect. To accomplish such a lofty goal, your students will need to play an active role in shaping the culture and environment of the classroom, as well as of the school at large. Here are some ways to make that happen.
  • Hold class meetings in which students establish group goals, decide on rules of conduct, plan activities, and solve problems.
  • Have your students collaborate on academic tasks by working in cooperative learning groups. Give them regular opportunities to plan and reflect on the ways they work together.
  • Organize a Buddies program in which younger and older students get together to work one-on-one on academic tasks and other kinds of activities.
  • Teach conflict resolution and other social skills so that students become skilled at resolving conflicts fairly and peacefully.

These strategies help students learn to establish and maintain positive relationships with others. They also turn the school into a laboratory where students practice the kinds of roles, and cope with the kinds of challenges, they will face in later life.

Teach Values Through the Curriculum
The curriculum you are currently teaching is undoubtedly filled with opportunities to engage your students in thinking about character and values. For instance, when studying a novel, why not have the kids scrutinize the character of the characters? In the novel Huckleberry Finn, Huck’s nagging dilemma was whether it was right or wrong to help a runaway slave escape from his “rightful owner.” Why not ask: What kind of a person was Huck Finn? What were his strengths and weaknesses? How did Huck process his dilemma? What do you think of his choices? What things do you admire about Huck and why? What things bother you about Huck and why? What do you think you would have done if you were in his shoes? What do your responses say about you? Have you ever had to deal with a very difficult conflict in your life?
In history classes students should not only learn what happened, they should be given an opportunity to make ethical judgments about it.

After all, history isn't just a timeline of events; it’s about people making choices that affected other people. Those choices had ethical and moral dimensions, and often produced profound consequences. Take, for instance, a unit on the Spanish inquisition, Nazi Germany, or the American civil rights movement. You might ask: Who were the people making those choices and what do you think about their actions? Did they do right, or did they do wrong? What kinds of values did these societies demonstrate? What do you think of these values? What would you do as a citizen of such a society?

Ah, you ask, but what about science? Are we to pass ethical judgment on the laws of physics? Well, no, not unless we are writing comedy. But we can explore the ethical issues of things like genetic testing or the use of animals in research. And we can learn about scientists who have refused to conduct research to be used for purposes they didn't approve of – like biological weapons. And if we are really bold we can look at what happens when scientific findings conflict with religious beliefs or lead to politically dangerous conclusions.

Apply this same lens to current events, movies and television programs, etc., and you have a lot of fertile ground to plough. According to the Character Education Partnership, “When teachers bring to the fore the character dimension of the curriculum, they enhance the relevance of subject matter to students’ natural interests and questions, and in the process, increase student engagement and achievement.” How can you beat that?

Class Discussions
“The best forms of character education also involve students in honest, thoughtful discussion and reflection regarding the moral implications of what they see around them, what they are told, and what they personally do and experience.”

It is difficult to overstate the benefits of a meaty, morally challenging classroom discussion. Properly facilitated, discussions like these develop students’ critical thinking skills, provide a group bonding experience, and engage the students in deep, meaningful reflection about the kinds of people they are and want to be.

The fact is that kids hunger for opportunities to discuss their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. We've seen this time and again in our 20 years of producing character education videos for grades K-12. In shooting our videos, we have employed two main discussion techniques:
1) the use of hypothetical situations, and
2) Socratic method. These two techniques have resulted in amazingly candid and wonderfully productive discussions in which students not only exercised moral reasoning (sometimes for the first time), they often came face to face with their own contradictions as well.

Classic hypothetical questions include: What would you do if you found a lost wallet, or suppose your best friend begged you to help him/her cheat on a test? When a student’s ethical sense is in conflict with his/her desires, the discussion can really take off.

One sentiment we heard frequently after taping these discussions was, “I wish we could have discussions like this all the time in school. I feel so much closer to these people now.” We think that kind of says it all.

Service Learning
Service learning is a powerful approach to teaching in which academic goals are accomplished through community service. Service learning takes the kids well past merely performing the service—they also select it, plan it, and then reflect on their entire experience. In addition to academic content, students practice valuable practical skills like organizing, collaborating, and problem solving. And they exercise such important character virtues as showing respect, taking responsibility, empathy, cooperation, citizenship, and persistence. Service learning is, in a word, transformative.

There are many different kinds of service learning projects for all age levels. A lot of them deal with community needs related to health, poverty, social issues, or the environment. Other good service learning activities involve students helping other students through mentoring and peer or cross-age tutoring. Here are some exemplary service learning projects:
  • Fourth graders at Strawberry Point School (Mill Valley, CA) collected $1,000 from Halloween donations and mall shoppers for a UNICEF polio eradication program. This year-long effort was tied in with science, health education, and geography.
  • Students at Marley Middle School (Glen Burnie, MD) learn how to determine acceptable water quality of the environment using surveys, observations, and test kits. They then test, analyze, and observe wildlife at Marley Creek to create a plan of action to improve the creek’s water quality and wildlife habitat.
  • West Roxbury High School students (Boston, MA) do cross-school tutoring with elementary school Book Buddies. Working with young children, older students raise their own learning standards and learn by teaching. Reflection Journals help them understand the mentoring experience. A Literacy Poster Contest, and a Teacher Shadowship Day open doors to literacy competencies and teaching as a career.

Please note—it is only when you involve the kids in planning and, especially, reflecting on their service, that you provide a complete service learning experience.
Explicit Instruction in Character and Values.

Up to this point we've been talking about ways of educating for character through indirect means, i.e., by weaving CE into the structure of the school or by drawing it out through the existing curriculum. The direct approach is to teach it as a subject in itself, by creating specific character education lesson plans. This approach is often organized around a list of specifically named virtues like respect, responsibility, integrity, etc., and typically involves the kids in reading, writing, discussing, role playing, and other kinds of activities that help them understand and apply these values.

Also, there are many commercially available CE programs that you can use right out of the box. Most of these are flexible enough to be implemented in a variety of ways depending on your particular needs. You can find these programs, along with a good deal of other useful material, on the internet by Googling the search phrase “character education.”

Program EvaluationRegardless of the scale of your character education initiative, it’s a good idea to establish some means of evaluating it so you know whether you are achieving your goals. According to Dr. B. David Brooks, a CE consultant and former school teacher and principal, implementation of a character education program must include a pre-assessment of goals and a post-assessment of results.5 Such an assessment may be as rigorous as a full blown longitudinal study, or it can be as informal as counting disciplinary referrals or gathering anecdotal teacher impressions.

Assessments can be designed to measure changes in the students, changes in the school climate, and/or how well the staff is implementing the program. The Character Education Partnership has three very helpful publications on assessment and evaluation available as free downloads on their website. You'll find links to these files at

How to Do Character Education (Part I)

byDavid H. Elkind and Freddy Sweet Ph.D.

This article first appeared in the Sept/Oct 2004 issue of Today's School under the title: "You Are A Character Educator."

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear – you are a character educator. Whether you are a teacher, administrator, custodian, or school bus driver, you are helping to shape the character of the kids you come in contact with. It’s in the way you talk, the behaviors you model, the conduct you tolerate, the deeds you encourage, the expectations you transmit. Yes, for better or for worse, you already are doing character education. The real question is what kind? Are you doing it well or poorly? By design or by default? And what kinds of values are you actually teaching?

Simply put, character education (CE) is everything you do that influences the character of the kids you teach. But to put it in a more focused light, we like Dr. Thomas Lickona’s definition, that “character education is the deliberate effort to help people understand, care about, and act upon core ethical values.” In his landmark book, Educating for Character,1 Dr. Lickona asserts that “When we think about the kind of character we want for our children, it’s clear that we want them to be able to judge what is right, care deeply about what is right, and then do what they believe to be right—even in the face of pressure from without and temptation from within.”

What’s especially useful about Dr. Lickona’s model is that it describes a developmental process that involves knowledge, feelings, and action, and thereby provides an integrated foundation on which to structure a coherent and comprehensive CE effort. It tells us that we need to engage our kids in activities that make them think critically about moral and ethical questions, inspire them to become committed to moral and ethical actions, and give them ample opportunities to practice moral and ethical behavior.

What Does Character Education Look Like?
This is a highly controversial issue, and depends largely on your desired outcome. Many people believe that simply getting kids to do what they’re told is character education. This idea often leads to an imposed set of rules and a system of rewards and punishments that produce temporary and limited behavioral changes, but they do little or nothing to affect the underlying character of the children. There are others who argue that our aim should be to develop independent thinkers who are committed to moral principals in their lives, and who are likely to do the right thing even under challenging circumstances. That requires a somewhat different approach, and is the bias of this article.

CE initiatives can be very modest, like one good teacher doing a few things right, or they can be very elaborate, involving everybody and everything in the school. What you do will probably depend on your circumstances. Here are some options.

The Holistic Approach
“Effective character education is not adding a program or set of programs to a school. Rather it is a transformation of the culture and life of the school.” 2-—Dr. Marvin Berkowitz

Popular wisdom holds that the best way to implement character education is through a holistic approach that integrates character development into every aspect of school life. This approach is also known as whole school reform, and it’s a biggie. Here are some of the distinguishing features of the holistic model:
  • Everything in the school is organized around the development of relationships between and among students, staff, and community.
  • The school is a caring community of learners in which there is a palpable bond connecting the students, the staff, and the school. (see Build a Caring Community, below)
  • Social and emotional learning is emphasized as much as academic learning.
  • Cooperation and collaboration among students are emphasized over competition.
  • Values such as fairness, respect, and honesty are part of everyday lessons in and out of the classroom.
  • Students are given ample opportunities to practice moral behavior through activities such as service learning (see below).
  • Discipline and classroom management concentrate on problem-solving rather than rewards and punishments.
  • The old model of the teacher-centered classroom is abandoned in favor of democratic classrooms where teachers and students hold class meetings to build unity, establish norms, and solve problems.

Obviously, this is a best-of-all-possible-worlds approach and requires a significant commitment from the administration and teaching staff. Also, it is usually a multi-year process involving consultants, staff development, and a serious budget.

But, what if you can’t do all the things listed above? Not to worry. CE is not an all-or-nothing enterprise. Even if you can’t restructure the whole school there is still a lot you can do to provide meaningful character building experiences for your students. The rest of this article lays out a smorgasbord of activities that have been shown to produce positive effects. We invite you to window-shop and pick out whatever you think will work well for you. Done right, it’s all good stuff.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Guru dan Watak Bangsa

oleh: Helena Asri Sinawang, Guru SMAN 1 Bandung

Berbagai kasus yang terjadi dalam beberapa dasa warsa terakhir ini telah menyadarkan semua pihak bahwa ada sesuatu yang kurang beres dalam dunia pendidikan secara keseluruhan. Misalnya gejala penyalahgunaan obat terlarang, pergaulan bebas, penggunaan ijazah dan gelar palsu, tawuran pelajar dan bahkan tawuran antar kelompok masyarakat yang dirasakan sangat mengkhawatirkan ketenangan hidup masyarakat. Hal ini dituding sebagai fenomena kegagalan pendidikan.

Banyak pihak (termasuk pakar pendidikan) mengatakan, pendidikan telah menyimpang dari amanatnya untuk memajukan kesejahteraan umum dan mencerdaskan kehidupan bangsa. Dalam realitasnya pendidikan tidak lagi berada dalam koridor platformnya sebagaimana diatur dalam pasal 1 ayat 1 UU No 20 Tahun 2003 tentang Sisdiknas, yakni satu upaya sadar dan terencana untuk mewujudkan suasana belajar dan proses pembelajaran agar peserta didik secara aktif mengembangkan potensi dirinya untuk memiliki kekuatan spiritual keagamaan, pengendalian diri, kepribadian, kecerdesan, akhlak mulia, serta ketrampilan yang diperlukan dirinya, masyarakat, bangsa dan negara.

Kecenderungan yang muncul, pendidikan dipersempit menjadi "persekolahan" yang kemudian dipersempit lagi dengan "pengajaran". Selanjutnya "pengajaran" dipersempit kembali dengan "pengajaran di ruang kelas" dan semakin sempit menjadi penyampaian materi kurikulum yang hanya berorientasi pada pencapaian ujian akhir (Ebtanas).

Penyempitan seperti ini hanya berorientasi pada aspek kognitif dan intelektual. Sedangkan unsur fundamental yang berakar pada nilai moral dari pendidikan itu sendiri terlupakan. Sehingga pendidikan hanya menghasilkan manusia yang skolastik dan pandai secara intelektual namun kurang memiliki keutuhan pribadi.

Keadaan ini telah menyadarkan pihak yang peduli untuk mengembalikan pendidikan pada supremasinya sebagai infrastruktur pembentukan dan pengembangan berbagai dimensi kepribadian secara serasi, selaras dan seimbang. Sehingga pendidikan tidak hanya bersifat skolastik namun juga memiliki nilai.

Untuk itu, diperlukan pendidikan budi pekerti yang merupakan aspek efektif dalam diri seseorang yang berlandasakan nilai-nilai sebagai rujukan berperilaku normatif. Ini didapatkan melalui pengalaman dan pendidikan yang memungkinkan seseorang untuk belajar dan berkembang. Melalui pengalaman inilah seseorang mendapatkan patokan dalam bertingkah laku di kehidupan sehari-hari. Hal inilah yang disebut nilai, yang menunjukkan apa yang cenderung kita lakukan dalam waktu-tempat tertentu atas dasar keyakinan dan penghargaan tertentu. Seiring dengan waktu, nilai ini akan berkembang dan menjadi matang.

Nilai merupakan bagian dari kehidupan, karenanya akan melibatkan tantangan, pertentangan, keseimbangan sehingga memerlukan suatu pertimbangan yang matang. Perwujudan suatu nilai dilakukan melalui suatu proses pemilihan, penghargaan dan tindakan. Dengan fungsi sebagai standar perilaku, dasar penyelesaian konflik dan pembuatan keputusan, sumber motivasi, dasar penyesuaian diri, dan dasar perwujudan diri. Nilai pada hakikatnya merupakan suatu bentuk pengalaman yang dirancang secara normatif, sistematis dan bertujuan. Karenanya pendidikan nilai harus mampu menyentuh sisi afektif peserta didik dengan menggunakan pendekatan-pendekatan afektif melalui keteladanan, pengajaran, pengalaman khusus, hukuman dan ganjaran, situasi lingkungan kelembagaan, dan layanan bimbingan .

didikan digunakan pendekatan holistik yang merupakan pendekatan yang mengharuskan pendidikan dipadang sebagai satu keutuhan dalam berbagai aspek dimensi. Seperti landasan, tujuan, isi, strategi, pelaksanaan dan operasional. Dengan fokus utama yaitu pemberdayaan pribadi, berpusat pada keluarga dengan berakar pada nilai religi, bernuansa pendidikan, dan berlangsung dalam harmoni budaya bangsa serta perkembangan global.

Untuk itu, guru harus menjadi pribadi efektif dan tolak ukur kualitas kebangsaan dengan didukung lima unsur, yaitu penalaran, sumber daya, pengetahuan, fungsi utama, dan kualitas watak. Watak bangsa merupakan manifestasi pendidikan, baik di sekolah maupun di luar sekolah (keluarga dan masyarakat) masyarakatnya.

Karenanya reformasi pendidikan yang paling fundamental hakikatnya adalah pembentukan watak yang utuh. Dalam era reformasi, pendidikan harus mampu mengembangkan peserta didik menjadi sumber daya manusia yang beriman dan bertaqwa, mandiri, kreatif, dan berwawasan masa depan. Sehingga lebih bermakna bagi individu, masyarakat ataupun bangsa dan negara.

Mencetak Dokter Profesional dan Religius

(Republika)--Dokter tak sekadar ilmuwan. Karena berhubungan dengan manusia, diperlukan figur seorang dokter yang tidak saja memiliki kemampuan medik maupun juga berdedikasi. Karena itu, selain ilmu pengetahuan, pada pendidikan kedokteran perlu ditanamkan nilai-nilai agama dan humanisme yang tinggi.

"Dalam bekerja, seorang dokter harus ikhlas. Karena kesembuhan pasiennya bukan semata-mata hasil jerih payahnya, namun juga ada kehendak Tuhan," jelas Dekan Fakultas Kedokteran dan Kesehatan (FKK) di Universitas Muhammadiyah Jakarta (UMJ) dr Syafri Guricci, MSc.
Syafri menjelaskan, saat ini ada dua konsep besar yang digunakan dalam mendidik seseorang untuk menjadi dokter yang profesional dn religius. Konsep pertama adalah, pendidikan mengenai agama sebelum mahasiswa tersebut mendalami pendidikan kedokteran. Sehingga mahasiswa tersebut memiliki dasar agama yang kuat yang dapat digunakan ketika mahasiswa tersebut dihadapkan kepada suatu masalah.

Sedangkan konsep kedua adalah, mengintegrasikan atau menggabungkan antara materi mengenai nilai agama dan materi ilmu kedokteran. Dengan begitu, ketika menghadapi suatu masalah, mahasiswa langsung diberikan pemahaman akan nilai agama yang berkaitan dengan masalah tersebut. Namun, Syafri mengatakan tidak puas jika konsep itu dijalankan secara terpisah. Karenanya, ia mengaplikasikan kedua konsep tersebut secara bersamaan. Yaitu, diberikan pendidikan agama sebelum mahasiswa mendalami ilmu kedokteran. Ditambah penjelasan mengenai nilai agama pada saat memberikan materi ilmu kedokteran.

Untuk menerapkan gabungan dari kedua konsep tersebut, Syafri membuat beberapa program. Di antaranya adalah program pesantren untuk mahasiswa UMJ baru. Program pesantren ini biasanya dilakukan di Pondok Pesantren Daarut Tauhid, Bandung. Selama sepuluh hari, mahasiswa diajarkan mengenai disiplin dan nilai-nilai agama secara intens. Tidak hanya itu, mahasiswa juga diharuskan untuk tinggal di asrama selama menjalani kuliah di UMJ. Asrama mahasiswa berlokasi di dua tempat, yaitu di Cirendeu dan Cempaka Putih.

Tujuan dari mahasiswa tinggal di asrama, agar waktu belajar mahasiswa tidak terbuang percuma. Syafri mengatakan, jika mahasiswa tidak diasramakan, maka banyak waktu yang terbuang. Seperti waktu untuk pergi ke kampus dan sebagainya. Selain itu, di asrama disediakan fasilitas belajar yang mendukung. Di antaranya adalah perpustakaan yang memiliki akses internet yang dibuka hingga 24 jam. Di sisi lain, proses penanaman nilai-nilai keagamaan dapat dilakukan dengan lebih mudah.

Selama dua semester awal, mahasiswa diasramakan di Cirendeu. Di sana, mereka diberikan mengenai materi dasar kedokteran dan materi keagamaan "Bobot materi keagamaan juga kami berikan pun lebih banyak, yaitu 10 SKS. Jauh lebih banyak dari standar yang diberikan pemerintah yang hanya dua SKS," jelas Syafri.

Selama memberikan materi, selalu diberikan penanaman akan nilai agama. Terutama nilai agama yang memiliki hubungan dengan materi. Srafri mencontohkan, salah satu kebesaran Tuhan dapat terlihat dari paru-paru manusia. Paru-paru satu manusia jika dibentangkan dan dihubungkan dapat mencapai ukuran 15 kilometer pesegi.

Penanaman nilai agama tidak hanya diberikan sebatas pemberian mata kuliah. Namun juga dilakukan melalui penciptaan lingkungan yang religius melalui penerapan nilai agama dalam keseharian kampus. Misalnya, ada satu aturan yang mengatur bahwa jam kuliah tidak boleh bentrok dengan waktu-waktu adzan. Jadi perkuliahan harus selesai atau dimulai sebelum adzan. Dengan begitu, baik mahasiswa dan dosen bisa shalat segera. Atau juga diadakannya pengajian dan kegiatan-kegiatan yang bersifat keagamaan.

Hubungan antar mahasiswa juga dibina. Ini dilakukan dengan menjadikan mahasiswa senior sebagai pembimbing belajar. Sehingga antara mahasiswa senior dan mahasiswa baru terbina hubungan yang baik. Meskipun begitu, Syafri mengaku, ilmu kedokteran dan pendidikan keagamaan tidak cukup untuk menciptakan seorang dokter yang religius. Diperlukan juga pendidikan terhadap kemampuan emosional mahasiswa. "Kemampuan intelektual berkaitan dengan ilmu kedokteran, kemampuan spiritual berkaitan dengan ilmu agama, sedangkan kemampuan emosional berkaitan nurani mahasiswa tersebut," jelas Syafri.

Harus ada nilai-nilai humanisme atau kemanusiaan yang ditanamkan dalam diri seorang dokter. Karena dokter merupakan profesi yang sangat erat berkaitan dengan hidup manusia. Untuk kemampuan emosional dapat bentuk melalui kegiatan-kegiatan di luar proses belajar mengajar. Seperti memberikan bantuan kepada kaum dhuafa, khususnya pada saat bulan ramadhan. Kemudian ekstrakurikuler mahasiswa yang memiliki hubungan dengan masyarakat. Atau juga kegiatan seperti pengajian bersama hingga kegiatan seni.

Semuanya ini, bertujuan untuk membangun empati dan sensivitas mahasiswa. Sehingga ketika mereka menjadi dokter, akan memiliki tingkat kesadaran tinggi untuk menolong orang lain. Semuanya dilakukan tanpa memandang siapa yang mereka tolong. "Dengan begitu, diharapkan dapat menciptakan dokter yang ikhlas," tegasnya.ci1

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