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What is Character? Virtue Ethics in Education

Explore important questions about character education and how it contributes to individual and societal flourishing.

20,546 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours

Character education is increasingly being talked about by politicians, employers, teachers, parents and young people across the world. Can teaching virtues such as honesty, self-control, fairness, resilience and respect - which contribute to good character - be part of the solution to many of the challenges facing society today?

This free online course offers you the opportunity to understand virtues and the role they play in helping both individuals and society flourish. We will tap into this increasing interest and answer important questions such as what is character and character education, why is it important and can it be taught? For those interested in extending their learning it will also provide a taster course for the exciting new MA in Character Education run by the University of Birmingham.

Learn with academic experts and practising teachers

We will draw on the insights of academics from the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues within the School of Education at the University of Birmingham. These leading experts in the fields of character education and virtue ethics will help you explore the theoretical and philosophical basis for character education, including a background to virtue ethics.

You’ll also meet teachers and head teachers with first-hand experience of the transformative power of implementing character education in day-to-day practices within a school. They’ll discuss how character might be taught in a conscious, planned and reflective way, enabling you to gain practical knowledge on taking character education into educational settings.

You can learn according to your interests and at your convenience. Each week has been divided into activities which can be completed together or individually:

Week 1: An Introduction to Character Education

Week 2: Character Education in Practice

  • How can character be ‘caught’ in schools? (Gary Walsh, Head Teacher)
  • Why should character be taught in schools? (Dan Wright, Teaching Fellow)

You can also explore each area in as much depth as you wish, with further reading materials available to those who want to learn more about particular aspects of the course.

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What topics will you cover?

Week 1: An Introduction to Character Education

  • What is character education and why does it matter?
  • What is the philosophical basis for character education and what virtues constitute good character?

Week 2: Character Education in Practice

  • How can character be ‘caught’ in schools?
  • Why should character be taught in schools?

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop an understanding of what character education is and and how it can be the basis of individual and societal flourishing
  • Evaluate the philosophical basis for character education
  • Identify and define the virtues that constitute good character
  • Demonstrate the ability to distinguish between how character can be both caught and taught in educational settings
  • Apply and implement key approaches to developing character in young people
  • Discuss the implications of what you have learned during this course in relation to your own environment and/or current affairs

Who is the course for?

This course will help you understand character, character education, virtue ethics and the role they play in both individual and societal flourishing.

It will be of particular interest to those who wish to explore how the development of character in young people can be applied in educational settings.

No prior knowledge of the subject area is required. This course has relevance across the world.

What do people say about this course?

"This course lasted for 2 weeks, and I had a really enjoyable time with it. The lectures were engaging and the discussions board really useful- I liked the way you got an announcement when someone had replied or commented on something you had written. It allowed for discussions: not just reading. I liked the course so much, I enrolled in a second online with Future Learn through the same institute- I paid for this to get my certificate- but this now seems redundant as it has led me to pursue my Masters with the same university via distance learning. This wouldn't have been possible were it not for the 1st initial free online course offered - so thank you."

Who will you learn with?

Director of Education : Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
Programme Director : MA Character Education

Who developed the course?

University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is a public research university, consistently listed as a leading UK university and ranked among the top 100 in the world.

The Jubilee Centre

The Jubilee Centre, part of the University of Birmingham, is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre focussing on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing.

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

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