Approach to an Effective and Meaningful Character Education in Singapore
Sim, Swee Cheong
Character education is the intentional effort to develop core ethical and performance values that are widely affirmed across all cultures in young people (Character Education Partnership, 2010). Benefits of character education include helping students to decipher the right and wrong to make informed choices, to be more dynamic and responsive to changes, and to develop new knowledge, skills and mindsets to adapt and cope with any new ambiguity and complexity. Most educators will agree that schools, working closely with parents and communities, play an important role to guide and reinforce character values. The current delivery approach of Singapore’s character education, which is known as Civics and Moral Education, is taught separately from the rest of the academic subjects. In order for high school students to be able to think critically about moral issues, especially when facing 21st century challenges and moral dilemmas, there is scope to restructure the delivery of character education by connecting the moral and the academic domains. While it is easier for beginning teachers to adopt a sequential category lesson (i.e. the lesson starts with a focus on the academic domain and then finishes with the moral domain), experienced teachers can apply the integrated category to classroom learning (i.e. the moral and the academic domains move back and forth). Advantages of these approaches are less oversimplification of moral issues and more meaningful intellectual connections. Students’ learning will also be more customized to their needs and interests.