Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Character in the Catholic Schools

“Character in the Classroom,” a Feb. 9 workshop for teachers in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, was the first step in launching a new national curriculum for Catholic Schools developed by Center Director of Character Education Steve Johnson. The project, which will debut a complete middle school language arts curriculum this summer, combines teaching character and literacy.

The new project builds on the Center’s Character-Based Literacy (CBL) Curriculum, which is used in the majority of California counties and in individual public and private schools throughout the country. CBL integrates the teaching of ethics into K-12 classes in language arts, and high school social studies and science courses.

The kick-off workshop for the San Francisco Archdiocese addressed the question, “What can teachers actually do in the classroom to influence the character of students?” Every teacher in the system attended sessions led by a team that included Johnson, Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson, Director of Campus Ethics David DeCosse, and Center Fellow in Global Ethics Almaz Negash. Other SCU faculty affiliated with the Ethics Center also gave presentations.

Johnson has also been instrumental in revising SCU’s Catholic Education Emphasis Program within the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Education. The program is aimed at future Catholic school teachers.

What makes the emphasis unique, according to Lester Goodchild, dean of the SCU School of Education, Counseling Psychology, and Pastoral Ministries, is that it is interdisciplinary with the Graduate Programs in Pastoral Ministry. Because SCU’s graduate school combines these fields, students can take courses in education, as well as in subjects such as catechetics and ministry.
Johnson will be teaching a new class designed specifically for the emphasis, “Ministry for Disability and Diversity.” Catholic schools, he said, serve a wide variety of youngsters, and teachers must be able to create welcoming environments for them all.

Johnson also directs the Ethics Camps that are a requirement for students in the emphasis. These popular four-day summer workshops for educators include camps specifically for teachers in Catholic schools. This year, the Center is running two camps targeted at leaders and educators in Catholic schools in the CSJ Educational Network, a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. The middle school curriculum will be introduced at these camps.

February 2007

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