“Breaking Into the Heart of Character” by David Streight (a book review)

jpegThis text was as useful as it was brief. This 104 page manual on supporting character development in schools was a swift, enjoyable read that helped refresh my perspective on teaching and mentoring young people. Truthfully, I might not pick it up off a shelf had it not been on our summer reading list. I might have thought that “character education” was not a focus professionally for me right now. Or I might have said to myself that there surely must be more important books to read on my precious summer days (exactly the same rationale has made me put off reading Harry Potter, actually). But David Streight’s book helped reconfirm why I am in this profession: the hearts of young people matter.

I spend a significant amount of time wondering what the point of school really should be (and really is) and what roles a teacher and a student play in an ideal situation. David Streight makes a great case for why character education really does matter (or really should matter): our minds are not disconnected from our hearts or our hands. We are educating whole people and, “When the needs are effectively filled, learning and memory are more efficient (Neimac & Ryann, 2009; Reeve et. al., 1999; Reeve, 2006)” (p. 23).

It was hard to not see myself and my colleagues in the stories offered on these pages, or find myself nodding in sympathy with Streight’s message. The wisdom offered in “Breaking Into The Heart of Character” is so straight-forward and logical that I wanted to find a time machine and give the first year teacher version of myself a copy to avoid some of the obvious pit falls and set backs that most fresh teachers make.

Or better yet, this book should be on every new teacher’s reading list to prepare for the task of teaching young people how to be human. If you know a friend who is starting to teach, do them a favour and put a copy of this book in their hands. They will thank you for it…or maybe their students will instead.

About the Author
Passionate and curious about technology, smiles, special education, differentiated instruction, forests, graphic novels, accessibility, anti-oppression, and warm beverages. Can often be found laughing with young people and improvising songs on the spot. @teach_tomorrow

2 comments on “Breaking Into the Heart of Character” by David Streight (a book review)

  1. I am loving your book review series. I feel like I’m learning right along with you. This is an interesting one for me as “character education” is certainly something all schools “want” to say they are doing. The challenge all schools face is building capacity among staff towards what the school looks,feels and sounds like when done well.

  2. Hi Celeste,

    Great review here and you’re raising some great questions. Having done a lot of work looking at what this looks like ‘on the ground’ I think that it’s important to acknowledge that narratives and stories are great ways to impart understandings and behaviours, as your book suggests. Getting students to tell their own stories about making tough, but good decisions, about doing the right thing in the classroom, and in the community is a great place to start. That is why I think blogging is a great habit to get into – but I’ve written about this before…

    Thanks for this great post,
    garth.

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