Background Information

What is Respect?

The Higher Law

Respect is the corner stone of responsible behavior. It is a universal law that applies to all people. Respect can be broken into two parts: the higher law, and the basic law. The "higher law of respect" involves tolerance of differences and having an attitude of compromise, "you give a little and I'll give a little." When people are kind and considerate to each other, being mindful of differences and similarities, harmony results. Also included in this higher law is the golden rule, which is, "Do unto others as you would have done to you." By following these rules, students learn to realize that they should want the best for themselves as well as for others.

The Basic Law

Obedience to the laws of the land is also an important aspect of respect (the basic law of respect). Laws were created to allow vast amounts of people to live together in a civilized way. The laws of the land help contribute to the general welfare of the people that reside in that land. Society would turn to anarchy without law-abiding citizens who believe in and respect the basic foundations of the laws.

Why teach respect in the elementary school classroom?

As mentioned above, respect is necessary to produce responsible behavior and mindful citizens. Children in the elementary classroom today are going to be future contributing members of society. It would be in society's best interest if they contributed peace, understanding, and obedience rather than chaos, indifference, and war.

The basic ideas teacher should focus on in an elementary classroom to promote respect:

· respect for themselves

· respect for each other - general care and consideration (being helpful)

· respect for their elders

· respect for the laws

· respect for the community

· respect for the country

How can I help my students understand the importance of respect?

By actively involving the students in respectful behavior toward themselves and others, the student will be able to gain a moral and ethical foundation of values. When teaching respect to the students, they need to have a motivation or a reason to act accordingly. That is why allowing the student to have practical experiences in respect is the best way to help your students understand the importance of respect. The students will then gain from these experiences the intrinsic feeling that each individual is important and deserves respect.


Additional insightful and historical websites on Character Education:

"Character education can be defined as strategic instruction that promotes social and personal responsibility and the development of the good character traits and moral virtues that make this possible."  Most definitions of character education focus on the intentional and strategic teaching of mores and values. But, the real question is whose mores and values should educators teach in the classroom (Gordon G. Vessels and Stephen M. Boyd)?

"Today, the vast majority of Americans share a respect for fundamental traits of character: honesty, compassion, justice, courage, and perseverance. Yet, in today's world, all children face great uncertainties in a complex and sometimes troubled society. These traits are not always readily apparent and easy to grasp or learn. Therefore our challenge is to provide youth with the self-esteem, stamina, and support they need to survive, be successful, and develop into strong, competent, caring, and responsible citizens."

This website contains information concerning Utah's implementation of Character Education in the school system.