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Sowing the Seeds of Character: The Moral Education of Adolescents in Public and Private Schools (Educate US)

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0313351914
ISBN-10: 0313351910
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Editorial Reviews


"Rabbi and educator Levingston (Jewish studies, Barrack Hebrew Academy, and Temple U., Philadelphia) has taught and served as an administrator in a variety of middle and high schools, and holds a doctorate in moral education from the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. He argues that moral education is not a luxury but rather a self-conscious and deliberate effort to teach young people about integrity, respect, care for oneself, care for the world, and principles of justice and freedom. Drawing on his own professional and personal experiences and from research in Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, public, Quaker, and Chinese schools, he offers suggestions on how educators can incorporate moral education into the existing curriculum through their own examples, through critical thinking and role-playing exercises, and through real-world applications to peer interactions outside the classroom. For educators, policymakers, and parents." - Reference & Research Book News

"A rabbi and educator, the author addresses the challenges of and techniques for conducting the moral education of adolescents, in public or private schools―recognizing that this is a fundamental part of their mission, whether conducted explicitly or only implicitly." - Harvard Magazine

"In an era of standards and demoralizing statistics, Sowing the Seeds of Character is a thoughtful and serious reflection on those qualitative, interpersonal, environmental factors that are so often overlooked in self-studies and assessments. Drawing on his own diverse experience as an educator, Levingston collects data on intangibles - impressions of entering a school and the relationships that exist, observations of teaching styles and the ways teachers empower their students to engage difficult questions, and even-handed comparisons of individual and collective approaches to the question of identity - to discern where and how moral education is happening in schools. Weaving observations together, Levingston. . . offers a profound glimpse of the hidden curricula that shape schools. While the author develops new categories to describe schools' approaches to moral education and makes an original and compelling pitch to revisit the role of 'play' in developing character, the book's most valuable contribution is its modeling of substantive, hope-filled reflection on what it means to shape students not only as academics or members of a community but as citizens of an increasingly pluralistic world." - Klingbrief

"…the volume is very accessible, easy to read, well organized, and peppered with the author's own experiences as a parent and educator. Highly recommended. General readers and all undergraduate students." - Choice

"…exceptional…Clearly, Sowing the Seeds of Character is a particularly timely contribution in an era that is likely to measure school success by test scores. " - Jewish Book World

"His choice to paint a portrait rather than prescribe a pedagogy enable his readers to use this book to ask their own questions and catalyze their own growth. Parents and educators who take a virtual tour through the schools and classrooms that Levingston describes will be motivated to take a fresh look at the nexus of transmission of values and personal meaning-making that is so crucial to the goal of Jewish education." - Journal of Jewish Education

"Levingston's voice offers an important contribution to our society's public discourse about the nation's common civic society. With so many unhelpful contributions dominating the debates about the merits of everything from charter schools to homeschooling, Levingston's voice is welcomed as thoughtful, sensitive, and positive." - Trinity Per Saecula


"Drawing on his experience as a teacher, principal, professor, rabbi, ethicist, and researcher, Judd Kruger Levingston surveys the modes of moral education practiced in a rich variety of pedagogical settings for adolescent students – regional and public schools; private secular schools; Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Quaker religious schools; and a Chinese speaking school. He shows how each kind of school guides its students by precept and example to apply moral understanding to their own lives, and points up the lessons that schools of divergent traditons may teach each other." (Joan F. Goodman
Professor, Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania)

"This is a must-read for anyone who cares about making teens good as well as knowledgeable. Levingston makes a compelling case for taking a fresh look at character education; his ethnographic research in public, independent, and religious high schools creates compelling portraits of schools and students with a range of moral outlooks. The book renews one's faith in the power of teachers to change lives." (Carol K. Ingall
Dr. Bernard Heller Professor of Jewish Education
Jewish Theological Seminary)

"Sowing the Seeds of Character is a model of ethnographic research: the study is embedded with the field's research, rich in detailed observations, careful in analysis of data and, above all, highly readable. The author, Judd Levingston, brings to this work the insights of an experienced teachers and administrator, the wisdom of a parent and the craft of a skilled storyteller. The book is a treasure for anyone interested in moral education and character development." (Kevin Ryan
Director Emeritus
the Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character)

"Parents, teachers, community leaders – we're all sowing the seeds of character every day. Drawing on 25 years of experience working with children and schools, Judd Levingston inspires us to think carefully about our opportunity and responsibility. He lays out the range of moral perspectives from 'Authentic and Assured' to 'Constructing and Considering' in a way that emphasizes the strengths of each. He is an observant and trustworthy guide." (Bill Jackson
President and Founder of GreatSchools)

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Product Details

  • Series: Educate US
  • Hardcover: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (June 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313351910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313351914
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,704,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was very curious to read this book because all too often I find the teaching of "charcter" to have become synonymous with teaching a particular set of values I don't always share. I was drawn to this book because the author looks at the teaching of character in several remarkabley different types of schools, and so I wanted to read about how he defines character and how he sees it being able to be taught. I was not disappointed. I found the bood to be full of well observed classrooms and real insight into how educators go about doing what they do. I found the common thread to be a desire to educate students about character, and that this was considered and done across a spectrum of different types of schools (i.e. urban/ suburban, different religious schools / public schools and so on). The book made me really step back and take a fresh look at what I expect from my children, and how I can best model that behavior and communicate my expectations to my children. It also made me really think about what my children's schools are teaching them, both directly and indirectly, by the way in which the schools interact with kids. I highly recommend this book to any parent who is intersted in examing how character does, and more importantly should, get taught to students.
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