Peter Wehner:

Our schools are but one institution of many that are tasked with shaping the moral lives of the young. The philosopher Martin Buber, while cautioning not to overestimate what the educator can do to develop character, wrote, “Education worthy of its name is essentially education of character. For the genuine educator does not merely consider individual functions of his pupil, as one intending to teach him only to know or to be capable of certain definite things; but his concern is always the person as a whole, both in the actuality in which he lives before you now and in his possibilities, in what he can become.” Society can’t create virtuous citizens without the help of schools; but schools can’t create virtuous citizens without the help of society, individual communities, and parents. Students’ character and ethics will only be made a priority for schools if they are a priority in the hearts and minds of adults—and too many adults have forgotten that virtue, the good life, and the good society are links in a golden chain. We can’t will the end—citizens of good character—without willing the means to the end: inculcating virtue in the young through moral precept, through example and habit, through rewards and punishment, through conversations and stories. We’ve done it reasonably well before; we need—urgently—to do it again.