Character Education in Gulen Inspired Schools Worldwide


Character education has been woven into the fabric of the curriculum of Gulen- inspired schools worldwide. Through character education programs, students develop performance habits and intellectual qualities that enable them to perform at their highest potential not only while in school, but also in their personal and professional lives. This paper seeks to understand why character education has been among the common characteristics of these schools.

Character Education in Gulen Inspired Schools Worldwide

Throughout the history, in all countries around the world, education has had two ultimate goals- to help children gain literacy and to help them become better human beings.

Continuous coverage from the media reporting increased violence, crimes, teen pregnancy, and other disruptive behaviors in schools has created awareness among many educators and psychologists that there is a moral crisis in our education system. Though many of these social issues do not stem from the lack of moral values, and most may have multifaceted origins, there is a growing tendency among educators to link the solutions to these issues and related social problems to the lack of teaching of formal character education in our public schools.

Moral education, or more generally “character education” has been receiving serious attention, publicity, and media coverage and is increasingly becoming a popular topic in the fields of education and educational psychology. The motivation behind these growing interests is twofold. First, as recent research has consistently shown, there is a positive correlation between good character education programs and academic achievement. Secondly, it is simple common-sense that moral education plays a major role in creating a safe school environment which is one of the most important components of effective schooling.

Former secretary of education Rod Paige expressed his frustration clearly when he said, “Sadly, we live in a culture without role models, where millions of students are taught the wrong values or no values at all. This culture of callousness has led to a staggering achievement gap, poor health status, crime, violence, teenage pregnancy and tobacco and alcohol abuse..Good character is a product of good judgments made every day.” (Benninga, 2006, p.2).

What is a Character Education?

In its simplest definition, morality simply refers to a set of social norms and conventions of being “right” or “wrong” in our daily discourse (Nucci, 1997). Character education is a broader term describing the education of children in a manner where the learning process will help them develop as moral, compliant, socially-acceptable and well-mannered human beings. The Character Education Partnership (CEP) defines formal character education as “a national movement creating schools that foster ethical, responsible, and caring young people by modeling and teaching good character through emphasis on universal values that we all share.”(Character Education Partnership, n.d.). Similar to CEP definition, understanding the pluralistic nature of our classroom, Gulen-inspired schools more commonly define character education as “developing universal human values such as honesty and integrity. As a perfect and timely response to Rod Paige’s call above, for instance, Pinnacle Academy in Virginia writes, “ Respectful of others and themselves and act as role models for their families and communities” as one of their core expectations from their graduates (

There are other operational definitions of character education in terms of “relationship” and self-oriented virtues.” (Jacques et al, 2006). Considering the fact that human beings are social creatures and can only survive in a society through daily interactions, such relational virtues as respect, fairness, civility, and tolerance play an important role in helping shape a person’s behavior as an acceptable individual in the society. Also, undoubtedly, nurturing such self-oriented values such as fortitude, self-discipline, effort, and perseverance in schools will help academic resilience and promote achievements. Character education is a nationwide proactive initiative striving to help schools to promote intentional teaching and role modeling, and infuse their students’ universal moral and ethical values along with academic and personal performance values. In brief, character education simply means “value formation”. Considering such unacceptable actions, as killing, hurting, hitting, and stealing that may impact the social, emotional and materialistic welfare of others, in the framework of universal values accepted by all cultures and societies, several contemporary theorist tend to define morality in the axis of “justice and welfare” (Nucci, 1997). Therefore, the debates around social right and wrong and its psychological characterization provide an empirical starting point for defining moral education (Nucci, 1989).

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