Just as cognitive abilities can be improved through rigorous academic study, research has confirmed that our ability to be more courageous, patient, determined, compassionate or helpful can be improved with the right instruction. Character is a skill and it can be strengthened with knowledge and practice.
To develop a broad range of character strengths and virtues in young people involves whole-institution approaches in which every aspect of the culture – from the content of curricula to how teachers are trained to what is measured – is designed to promote both academic achievement and character development. Not one, or the other, but both. Only then can we recapture the essential purpose of education, which is to form flourishing individuals with strong moral values.