Values, Personality and Character

10 June 2013 at 23:40 | 3686 views

By Miguel Zapater.

Nowadays, because of existing relativism, there is a deep moral crisis of values that are affecting different society dimensions (economic crisis); hence the need for an emphasis on education in values.

As we know, according to his nature, man is a person composed of a sensitive and material body and a spiritual and rational soul. The expressions of man through thought, word and deed in each of his activities is called personality.

Etymologically, the term character means sign or mark that is printed, painted or sculpted in something. It is, when applied to the personality, the adherence to moral values that a person expresses consistently in his behavior. That is a signal or recognizable mark of his moral worth as a human being. It is a quality of personality.

Character is not innate, it depends on heredity and environmental influences, and therefore also on education. First of all, character education is the acquisition of values or ideals of conduct consistent with the dignity of a person. An ideal or value is a worthy aspiration maintained as a guiding principle of action. For example, we have truth, goodness, honesty, tolerance, justice (fairness), prudence, temperance… The resources to acquire values and ideals are teaching and example. These must be adapted to the characteristics of each educational stage. Good rules do much, but good models do even more. The primary sources of values are imitation and emulation.

Character education is the responsibility of the family which, from the moment of birth must prepare a plan with values in it. Likewise, it is the responsibility of society to provide sources of example. The same thing should happen in school. Hence the need for an educational pact that establishes a minimum set of common values with which we can educate. We must remember that coexistence in society becomes difficult without values. These can be completed with other values such as religious or transcendental values without opposing the constitutional framework.

Secondly, it is the improvement of the will or ability to act deliberately, of owning one’s actions. All teaching should be directed to the strengthening of will, to reflection and deliberation, to decision-making and to the enforcement of the same, trying to be persistent in order to act according to the values on which we intend to educate.

Thirdly, it is the formation of good habits. The man of character is the man of reason, willpower and temperance in all things. In order to attain this purpose, it is necessary to establish strong and well organized habits which must result in correct ways of thinking and acting during all occasions of life in accordance with the values and ideals established. For that reason, it is essential that family, society and school provide opportunities to live and practice these values.

Finally, it is the establishment of emotional stability. Man is not pure intellect or pure will. Knowledge and action are painted by feelings and emotions, hence the need to attain simultaneously affective education, the emotional intelligence education with the acquisition of skills that will help man to handle his emotions and passions properly. This, in turn, stimulates the intellect and motivates the desire.

Emotional stability implies emotional balance. It is the result of a happy and reasonable control of emotions, necessary for job and study. The use of will in controlling emotions is essential and this control constitutes self-control.

Photo: Athena, Greek Goddess of Wisdom.