Tuesday, April 28, 2015


One of the most important skills taught at an early age is reading.

Being able to read opens doors that will otherwise remain closed.

In the early days of our country, social mores and values were instilled through the process of learning to read.

Consider these two facts concerning the McGuffey Readers:
Two of the best-known school books in the history of American education were the 18th century New England Primer and the 19th century McGuffey Readers. Of the two, McGuffey's was the most popular and widely used. It is estimated that at least 120 million copies of McGuffey's Readers were sold between 1836 and 1960, placing its sales in a category with the Bible and Webster's Dictionary. Since 1961 they have continued to sell at a rate of some 30,000 copies a year. No other textbook bearing a single person's name has come close to that mark. McGuffey's Readers are still in use today in some school systems, and by parents for home schooling purposes.
National Park Service - U.S. Department of the Interior (http://www.nps.gov/jeff/william_holmes.html)
{retrieved from the internet 3/25/2015}

This series of schoolbooks teaching reading and moral precepts, originally prepared by William Holmes McGuffey in 1836, had a profound influence on public education in the United States. McGuffey was a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a Presbyterian minister. A Cincinnati publishing firm asked him to compile a series of graded readers adapted to the values, beliefs, and way of life of "Western people." As a young schoolmaster, McGuffey had used the eighteenth-century Puritans' New England Primer, Noah Webster's American Spelling Book, and the Bible. His Eclectic First Reader and Eclectic Second Reader were published in 1836, the Third and Fourth in 1837. They contained stories of widely varied subject matter appealing to youngsters and taught religious, moral, and ethical principles that reflected both McGuffey's personality and society at the time. McGuffey's brother Alexander produced the Fifth Reader in 1844, a spelling book in 1846, and a Sixth Reader in 1857.
From HOUGHTON MIFFLIN College Division  (http://college.hmco.com/history/readerscomp/rcah/html/ah_058200_mcguffeysrea.htm) {retrieved from the internet 3/25/2015}

Many people believe that we no longer do this, but nothing could be further from the truth. 

Values are very much inculcated through the schools, especially since parents have for the past two generations abdicated the all-important responsibility of character training, leaving it to our societal institutions of church and state.

One may often hear arguments against the teaching of morals. They usually fall under the rhetoric of “separation of church and state,” or “religious education brainwashes our children.”

As a result of this failure on the part of parents and schools, “character education” has become big business as a sideline for schools to integrate within their curriculum.

Here are the 6 Pillars of Character espoused by charactercounts.org


Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country


Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements


Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others


Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly


Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need


Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer
(copied directly from https://charactercounts.org/sixpillars.html and left intact as on their web page) {retrieved from the internet 3/26/2015}
When I read through the list of pillars and their application, I find every single one of them to be promoted in the Bible.

Imagine that.

Every single point of character is in the Bible.

I’m not complaining about Character Counts, mind you. I am simply pointing out that what our society has rebelled against, it is now finding necessary to apply. It is a good thing if Character Counts, established by the Josephson Institute and The Center for Youth Ethics, has found a way to teach these things in a manner that will not offend the perpetually offended.

The failure to train children and instill in them positive character traits has resulted in a society run amok. Aside from the obvious disregard for life and property we witness every day, consider a simple little thing like commitment and responsibility:
from The Skills Employers Wish College Grads Had
“…managers have an overall negative view of young workers, and point to their lack of soft skills regarding communication and interpersonal interactions, time management abilities and willingness to work as a team.”               {retrieved from the internet 3/26/2015}

I have no data to back me up on this, so what I am about to say is pure speculative opinion: I believe that while the efforts of Character Counts and other organizations may be a good thing, it is an uphill battle destined to fail in the long term.

I say that because I believe that without the backing of parents at home, and with the promotion of lack of character by our media, combined with a visible lack of character in our thought leaders, church leaders, and governmental leaders, there is no way a child will learn how to practice what is being taught. Everything is stacked against them, since there are so few models of truly noble character to be found.

Is there a solution?

I’m glad you asked.

There certainly is.

It is simple and straightforward; but it will not turn us around overnight.

Following Gandhi’s advice, it is necessary that we begin on an individual level regardless of what anyone else around us may be doing and
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

The following applies to all the Christians who may be reading this:
  • Do NOT assume that you have taught character because you took your kids to Sunday School. (click to tweet)
  • Do NOT assume that because you put your kids in a Christian school they have been taught character.

If you have not intentionally trained them to be men and women of character, then you have failed to instill in them a solid positive character. (click to tweet)

Since this has become such a long article, I will close with this one simple strategy upon which I will elaborate next time: 

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