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Teen-Aid, Inc.

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Spokane, WA 99207

Paradigm for Character Instruction

Lesson plans for this curriculum are built upon a paradigm that asserts a relationship between the Role Model and the Learner.  In such a relationship, there exists reciprocal responsibilities that are described below.  Through the execution of these responsibilities character education can occur.  This process is most effective when the Responsibilities (1-14) are carried out sequentially.


The Learner Responsibility (moral knowing, moral feeling and moral action) is numbered and is immediately followed by the Role Model Responsibility which is marked with (RM).  Both are located in the left margin.  The Role Model Responsibility and the Learner Responsibility appear beside the skill or attitude being developed.  This systematic approach ensures that the student will undergo routine steps in developing the full spectrum of skills and attributes required to achieve each character trait.


Learner’s Responsibility

Role Model’s Responsibility

1) Listen to parents and respect authority.

Show respect for authority, beginning with parents and extending to elders, teachers, and in time, employers.

(RM) Set appropriate boundaries.

Boundaries should be age-appropriate and based on

standards that benefit the learner and society.

2) Know the attributes of the character quality.

Describe the meaning of the character quality. What does it look like to be a man or woman who displays a certain quality?

(RM) Serve as an example for the learner.

Though character development is a life long task, it is assumed that the role model has developed qualities that surpass those of the learner.

3) Know and do good.

Determine what is right and good. Evaluate personal behavior in light of this knowledge. Adopt good behavior.

(RM) Train the learner to choose good.

The underlying assumption is that all learners can have good character if trained.  Good character helps the learner avoid negative consequences and pursue opportunities for a better life.

4) Value the good for its benefits.

Understand that strong character contributes to personal and social well-being.

(RM) Identify practical examples of character benefiting the learner and others.

Individual traits are interdependent and have a cumulative affect on the whole person (physical, emotional, spiritual, familial and social).  It is this effect that builds character.

5) Strategize to do right.

Utilize positive self-talk, think ahead and discuss plans.

(RM) Help the learner develop a future perspective.

This perspective connects today’s behavior with tomorrow’s outcomes, empowers the learner to foresee consequences, and develops skills that produce confidence.

6) Avoid situations that lead to negative consequences.

Anticipate circumstances and exercise appropriate

behavior. Identify what brings trouble and move in the opposite direction.

(RM) Hold up a standard of responsible behavior.

With each stage of maturation, expectations grow. There are age-appropriate standards that motivate young people to achieve personal expectations and reach the standards set by respected adults.

7) Be aware, even skeptical, of persons, places or things that might cause a lapse in character.

Know personal strengths and weaknesses.  Acknowledge that actions have consequences to self and others. Realize that not all people have your best interest in mind, and identify which people or situations can be trusted.

(RM) Encourage a cautious attitude, especially toward those who lack understanding of character principles.

8) Watch for opportunities to build character.

Consequences of missed opportunities can be subtle but may negatively impact the whole person.

(RM) See the learner from the “whole person perspective”- physical, familial, social, emotional and spiritual.

This implies that character or the lack of character impacts all aspects of the learners life.

9) Find reminders to do good.

Use educational or personal daily routines, promises, and posters to keep the resolve fresh until the behavior becomes habit.

(RM) Compare the results of bad habits with good habits.

Examples of bad behavior further clarify the good.

10) Affirm the underlying attitude to do good.

Use positive self-talk to affirm good attitudes and behavior.  This strengthens character growth patterns.  Seek adult coaching and counseling to encourage the right attitudes and increase skills.

(RM) Paint a picture of the learner who practices

the character quality.

Practical coaching and counseling encourage right behavior, engenders positive, hopeful attitudes for the future and for personal achievement.

11) Learn from mistakes.

Do not dwell on past negative behaviors, except to identify ways to help others.  Forgive yourself and others in order to keep from doing or becoming what you want to avoid.

(RM) Help the learner see opportunities for growth.

Failure comes only when lessons are not learned.  Reminding the learner of past mistakes can create expectations for poor behavior.

12) Overcome obstacles.

Actively avoid obstacles (people or situations) to achieving the character quality.  When you are unable to avoid obstacles, use refusal skills, internal resolve and self-affirmation.

(RM) Stress the value of focus and perseverance.

Encourage goal setting which will help the learner clarify reasons to resist negative pressure. Employ simple, time-tested messages, slogans or quotations to develop perseverance.

13) Reject destructive behavior.

Use self-talk, body language and verbal communication to distance yourself from people and situations that threaten your character.

(RM) Show disdain for negative behavior.

The role model must reject permissive values and lack of character. Disparaging or disapproving of poor decisions solidifies the expectation of good character for the learner.  Rejection of permissive behavior is not aimed at hurting others, but is intended to strengthen the learner’s resolve.

14) Activate skills to acquire character.

Each character quality requires the use of specific skills.  It is the practice of these skills that makes good behavior a habit and ultimately builds character.

(RM) Present a life-time challenge to the learner to pursue good character.

Character development is an on-going process.  Use rhetorical questions and challenges to test the student’s understanding and appreciation for the character quality.  Remind learners that they too are role models for others.  Striving to be a good example is an important way to build character.