THE EDITOR, Sir:
Character education is to be introduced in schools. But character is not some theoretical subject one goes into a classroom and teaches, like history.
Words, such as moulded and shaped, are used to describe character in the making; character development is a deliberate act, much like a carving shaped by a master artist, the moulded or a beautiful form of a gold statuette for which one must first cast a mould, then liquefy the material, pour it in the mould and leave it to set, harden and cure.
The old adage, attitudes are caught, not taught, means that children, and indeed adults, learn character more by example and experience than by precepts or theoretical instruction.
One teacher per school given the mandate to teach character will be forcing a stream to run uphill unless the staff as a team model the character they wish their students to become. Let's consider:
Schools cannot model punctuality when teachers arrive late - and when student tardiness is not sanctioned.
Male teachers who have affairs with female students cannot teach students to be law-abiding - they are breaking the law and the school allows it. Schools can't teach students to speak quietly when teachers shout and the music for Sports Day or Christmas party or the fund-raiser can be heard a mile away. Schools can't teach students not to rob employers' time when teachers are 15 minutes late for every class and leave before dismissal. School can't teach students honesty when they 'borrow' books from the school library for their children who attend other schools, or use school stationery for their personal use. School can't teach the value of cooperation and collaboration when everything is a competition. School can't teach tolerance when teachers are partial to the brightest, wealthiest or most beautiful and shun the poor, less physically attractive or disabled. School can't teach unity when the teachers and other staff members are politically divided.
To build character, we need to revolutionise the way we conceptualise education, to have a different world view and a different value system, a value system that is more honest, thoughtful and tolerant; we need to live the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbour as yourself. And when we have done that, then we need to turn back to a great biblical proverb: Train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows old, he will not depart from it.
As the world-famous athletes, Bolt, Blake, Fraser-Pryce, Campbell will tell you, training is not about theory - it is about constant repetition and practice.
Training a child to be a model character is longer and more arduous and the results are very often less evident though much more rewarding. It is far more than a job.