With so many more devices and messages today feeding us information and shaping who we are, I think it’s incredibly poignant that there’s such a renewed interest in character education bubbling up from so many different sectors of society. I know educators have been working on integrating character education into our schools for many years, and it’s exciting as a filmmaker to take a subject as rich and complex as character and try to bring these ideas to life in an engaging and accessible way for students, teachers, parents, and really everyone. As the world becomes more complex, we’re all craving guides, tools, and practices to lead meaningful, successful, and purposeful lives in today’s world.
Last year for our first annual Character Day we held a global film premiere of The Science of Character, our eight-minute film that explores the neuroscience and social science behind character development (based on research from Angela Duckworth, Carol Dweck, Martin Seligman, and many others). More than 1,500 schools, community centers, and organizations across the world premiered the film all on that same day, and then went deeper into the conversation through resources and discussion materials for all different ages (also based on the science and research in the film) and a 24-hour global Q&A held on Google Hangout where experts in the field of character education answered questions from participants.
The ripple effects from this event and the appetite for this conversation inspired us to create an even more robust Character Day 2015, set for September 18.
The ripple effects from this event and the appetite for this conversation inspired us to create an even more robust Character Day 2015, set for September 18. This year, we are expanding the scope of the conversation to explore character from many different perspectives (science, philosophy, morality, and more, asking where is this research aligned, and where does it differ? What are the different approaches to strengthening certain parts of one’s character?). Character Day will feature the global premieres of two films: The Adaptable Mind (which explores adapting our minds to flourish in the 21st century) and The Making of a Mensch (which explores character education through a Jewish lens, reframing ancient Jewish teachings of the Mussar Movement that date back to the 10th century, through a 21st-century approach). The global Q&A this year will feature a wide range of voices across demographics, perspectives, and borders, linking together the different screenings into a worldwide conversation. We are expecting more than 3, 000 schools and organizations to participate this year.
In addition to the Character Day events on September 18, we will also be building out a robust hub of resources around this investigation and conversation on character education -- an aggregated space online that, as far as we know, does not yet exist. Our partners, such as Common Sense Media, Character.org, Character Lab, and ro*co films, are curating lists of films, books, apps, games, and classroom lesson plans organized by the 24 character strengths, if you are interested in exploring any of them in depth (see poster above).
We hope you, your students, your children, and your communities will join this day and contribute to the evolution of this fascinating dialogue on a global scale.
Participation is completely free, as Character Day and the films and resources are generously supported by grants. Your event can be anywhere, anytime on September 18 (or close to it!). Some events include 3,000+ people, others 10-20; Character Day is an opportunity to create the kind of event that works for you and your community.
More than 500 schools and organizations are already signed up -- from 125 schools in the San Francisco Unified School District, to the U.S. State Department screenings at American embassies worldwide, to village schools in India.
For the first 1,000 who join, we will be creating customized versions of the film(s), with your logo at the end of the film, and offering hands-on discussion kits in addition to the online materials.
We would LOVE for you to join us. Find out more and sign up (it takes just 2 minutes) at CharacterDay.org.