Is good character the same as being a good citizen?
Many confuse having good character with being a good citizen. They aren’t the same. It would be similar to saying that having good character is the same as being a good parent or being a good manager. Character relates to the quality of one's actions such as acting in a manner that is honorable, courageous, compassionate, and/or ethical. Good citizenship relates to the type of one's actions such as actions that remind us of our heritage or involve us in the democratic process. As Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, said “It’s not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.” The Character Education community has a character development program called The Six Pillars of Character. It is used by many school districts. One of the pillars is called Citizenship. While citizenship may not be, in theory, a “pillar of character” and while the Six Pillars of Character description of citizenship is a bit limited, the program is of value in introducing the basics of citizenship to kids and young adults. Lions Quest is another program used in many school districts. Its focus is on youth development and includes effective citizenship.
How to teach citizenship?
There are two K-12 programs that have a citizenship component and introduce citizenship to kids and young adults – The Six Pillars of Character and Lions Quest. However, neither program teaches kids and young adults how to be effective citizens and both have the traditional narrow view of citizenship meaning voting, jury duty, and occassional community service. Neither has the proper definition of citizensip. However both programs are valuable as they are currently used in many school districts and they introduce the idea of citizenship. Good Citizen is developing materials and resources that can be easily integrated into existing social studies curricula for teaching K-12 students how to be effective citizens....