Character and Citizenship Seminar 2018

Overview

Beyond Academics: Covering Education for Character and Citizenship
New Orleans • February 15-16, 2018

The intensive focus in many public schools on basic academics has sparked concerns that the U.S. education system is neglecting a fundamental responsibility: to foster in young people the character traits and social-emotional skills needed to be successful students and engaged citizens. Empathy, collaboration, and self-efficacy, for instance, are essential in a democratic society. They also are important for success in a fast-changing job market.

The intensive focus in many public schools on basic academics has sparked concerns that the U.S. education system is neglecting a fundamental responsibility: to foster in young people the character traits and social-emotional skills needed to be successful students and engaged citizens. Empathy, collaboration, and self-efficacy, for instance, are essential in a democratic society. They also are important for success in a fast-changing job market.

Boosted by a growing body of research and public attention, some schools are increasingly taking an active role in educating the “whole child.” A focus on social and emotional development, including traits like grit, self-control, and a growth mindset, is on the rise at the K-12 level. Efforts to build the formation of moral character — honesty, integrity, and responsibility, for instance — into the very fabric of the school experience are taking hold in some quarters. Other campuses are employing “restorative justice” practices as an alternative to traditional student discipline strategies.

Amid a climate of deep political polarization in the U.S. that often seems more conducive to name-calling than finding common ground, advocates see the need for schools to educate students to be informed, engaged, and empathetic citizens as more urgent than ever.

At this journalists-only seminar in New Orleans, reporters will explore in depth the renewed push to educate students for character and citizenship. The event will feature educators, experts, and students, as well as reporters who have produced outstanding stories that bring these issues to life. Reporters will come away with new ideas, sources, insights, and knowledge to inform their understanding of an under-covered dimension of public schooling. This event is open to journalist members only.

EWA offers scholarships to eligible reporters that can cover transportation, lodging, and registration.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Ins and Outs of ‘Restorative Justice’ in Schools
What is it? Does it work as an alternative to traditional student discipline?

When students misbehave at school, traditional approaches to discipline say you should punish them to deter future offenses.

But a growing movement toward “restorative” approaches to discipline focuses more on repairing the damage rather than suspending or expelling students.

Though details vary from school to school, so-called “restorative justice” programs instead encourage students to reflect on their transgressions and their root causes, talk about them – usually with the victims of the behavior – and try to make amends.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Educators ‘Cultivate’ Connections to Build Character

Building character is an everyday event, woven into the fabric of how school is done on every level, educators and students told journalists during a conference in New Orleans on educating for character and citizenship.

A key goal is creating a community of trust among students and faculty, said educators at several schools that put character development at the center. During the panel discussion, they used words like “love” and “team” to describe their schools, emphasizing the mutual respect that they work to cultivate between students and teachers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Push for Media Literacy Takes on Urgency Amid Rise of ‘Fake News’
Some states act to spark schools' focus on teaching subject

The advent of “fake news” was the worst-best thing to happen to media literacy in schools.

That’s according to Sherri Hope Culver, the director of the Center for Media and Information Literacy at Temple University.

In years past, it was tough work convincing legislators and reporters the importance of paying attention to the issue of teaching children how to analyze and evaluate media, Culver said during a recent Education Writers Association seminar in New Orleans.They’d ask what made the issue timely.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

When It Comes to Character Education, There’s ‘No Off Switch’

It’s an education topic that prompts more questions than answers, and it’s expected to spur debate for years to come.

Character education: What is it? What does it look like? Can it be measured?

Experts in education and journalists gathered in New Orleans last month quickly agreed there are numerous terms, definitions, philosophies and methods to explain character education.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

To Teach Civic Engagement, Put Students Into Action, Advocates Say

image of student studying New Orleans waterways 2018

With their bodies submerged in the shallow bayou and their heads bobbing just above the water, Sunny Dawn Summers and her class of high school students talked through the process of harvesting, shucking, and selling oysters.

Just miles from restaurants in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter, the students pondered the costs of labor, boat maintenance, and shipping that get an oyster from the muddy bayou floor to the dinner plate.

Key Coverage

OPINION: Why Thomas Jefferson Would Be Proud of Florida’s Students

Here’s something to think about when you hear people question whether student protests are appropriate: We seem to have forgotten as a nation why we created public schools.

No one is confused about why we have public fire departments or libraries: We all understand their mission for the public good. But the mission and importance of public schools? Not so much.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What You Missed at EWA’s Seminar on Educating for Character & Citizenship

photo of students at EWA Character & Citizenship event..

Dozens of journalists gathered in New Orleans this month to explore a dimension of education that often gets short shrift both in schools and in news coverage: developing students’ character and preparing them for active citizenship.

Reporters heard not only from educators, experts, and fellow journalists, but also students from New Orleans and beyond. Issues on tap included the moral education of young people, social and emotional learning, media literacy, and the rapid rise of ”restorative justice” as an alternative to traditional disciplinary practice.