Education does not simply provide us with the knowledge and skill sets we need to compete in life. Our education at home, on the streets, and in the classroom helps shape who we are. Better educated people can create healthier lifestyles, because they understand the need for a healthy environment. As such, character development must be an integral part of any quality education in order for the skills students learn to fully benefit them and our society.
Hard skills like reading and arithmetic are generally considered the fundamental blocks of a quality education; however, schooling also provides a social learning environment. If we fail to address the need in education to create better socializers, society misses out on the skills necessary for resolving social issues and conflicts. This is a major shortcoming, because the hard skills we learn are useful in certain situations, yet soft skills are needed everyday all day long.
Developing these soft skills is what leads us to become strong, healthy individuals. Without the ability to effectively interact with others, resolve conflicts, and develop healthy relationships, an individual cannot be a constructive member of society. Whether or not someone can learn these skills from a healthy social and home life, an education is supposed to help us succeed in life versus simply academics. Accordingly, schooling must involve training students in soft skills that help develop them as healthy people.
Character development is part of our lifelong learning process. As such, those, who stagnate in terms of learning, will have weak characters. While the bulk of our personality and value come from our personal experiences and interactions with others, formal education can help steer character development, so we will become healthier people and constructively add to our communities. Unfortunately, a lack of character development can lead students down the wrong path very easily.
Defining who we are as people happens on a daily basis. Although schools should not necessarily focus on preaching to their students on what makes an individual a socially healthy person, the attitudes and behavior of educators impact students. Of course, the education, which fosters healthy lifestyles and pro-social behavior do so as well. Without these elements, an education is only a collection of skills and knowledge. After all, the reason we go to school is to become far more constructive members of society, thus good educations also involve character development.