Self-regulation helps in character development

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Self-regulation helps in character development

Earlier this month at a high school in Paju, Gyeonggi, a group of 900 students, parents and teachers gathered to debate two important issues: makeup and hairstyles.

After the end of each semester, Segyeong High School students, staff and parents hold debates to decide the rules for the next semester.

At the Jan. 8 debate, attendees discussed whether male students should be permitted to wear so-called two-block hairstyles - where the hair on the sides is short while the top is long - and whether female students would be able to wear makeup. The two issues were previously discussed at both a student council meeting and parent-teacher meetings.

“After three hours of debate, female students were banned from wearing base makeup,” Park Sung-kyu, a 39-year-old teacher at the school, said. “However, we decided to hold another meeting to discuss whether male students should be allowed the two-block hairstyle.”

Once the regulations are set, anyone who breaks the rules must face the independent court made up of students, who act as prosecutors, judges and lawyers and dole out sentences.

Since implementing this system in 2010, the school has seen a positive change in the character of students. Compared to 2013 when the average score on a behavioral test was 53.7 out of 100, in 2015 the average score was 64.7.

“As the students participated in making the laws and following them, they became all the more responsible and considerate,” Park said.

The amount of school violence has also decreased, down from 20 cases in 2013 to none in 2015. Furthermore, the students have even showed increased levels of cognition, with the average score increasing from 48.2 out of 100 in 2013 to 56.2 last year.

This example was reported as an exemplary model at the “Character Education Conference” hosted by the National Assembly Practice Forum on Character Education on Monday. The conference was held in order to share good examples of character education from across the nation.

The JoongAng Ilbo Institute of Character Education shared information on pursuing character education, and over 150 teachers and parents from all over the country attended.

Another example of character-building highlighted at the conference came from Jipyeong High School in Yangpyeong County, Gyeonggi, which opened a student cafe last year.

In April 2015, 50 parents from Jipyeong Elementary, Middle and High School accumulated money to rent a building near the schools. The parents then spent six months remodeling the interior into a cafe.

“After school, students who did not have places to go gathered in this cafe,” Jeong Nam-seon, 47, a mother of a Jipyeong High School student, said. “The students became very bright. In particular, the cafe became a central place to bring the parents of Jipyeong schools together.”

“The final goal of the character education promotion act is to see character education evolve naturally within schools, so that the act can be abolished afterwards,” said Rep. Choung Byoung-gug, head of the National Assembly Practice Forum on Character Education.

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