Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Growing Character

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words;
Be careful of your words for your words become your deeds;
Be careful of your deeds, for your deeds become your habits;
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character;
Be careful of your character for your character becomes your destiny.

With that anonymously authored poem, Thomas Lickona, author of Educating for Character, opened his talk at the character education conference, "At Our Best: Moral Lives in a Moral Community," held at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics last year.

Although the Center explores some of today's most complicated ethical issues with a variety of
professionals—businesspeople, scientists, elected officials, lawyers—one topic invariably grabs everyone's attention: How do we help the younger generation to develop character?

This Issues in Ethics looks at that question from a variety of perspectives. We are fortunate to have articles from two of the foremost scholars in this area, William Damon and Kevin Ryan, based on their presentations at the Center conference.

Damon, professor of education at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Center on Adolescence, discusses how schools and communities can work together to build character in his piece, "When Inappropriate Behavior Is Just Plain Wrong." Ryan, director of the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character and emeritus professor of education at Boston
University, offers "The Six Es of Character Education."

The Center's own Steve Johnson, director of character education, describes our approach to character education in a conversation with Center Executive Director Kirk O. Hanson. And Miriam Schulman, the Center's communication director, addresses "The Challenge Problem," a more personal look at whether schools inadvertently set children up to violate the norms of academic integrity.

The Center deals with moral development on a daily basis through vehicles described in "Programs in Character Education." More information is available on the Web at