Can you measure "Character?"

loki09789

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Based on the Rank Revoking topic here it goes:

1. Can you truly measure character? If so, how?

2. If you have some kind of "character" requirement for promotion, how do you specify, train, test and 'measure' character in your rank structure/promotion system?

3. What character training do you have in place that justifies the 'measuring' or promotion of students based on 'character ranking?' in conjunction with skill ranking?

I do believe that there should be a code of conduct, there should be 'character expectations' and such from students who participate in a class, but I don't really understand how there is a logical or rational link between skill progression and 'character progression' in martial arts training.

Character growth IMO is a separate track that doesn't automatically follow skill growth. You can have a VERY talented student that does very well but is not a 'good student' in the class or you can have, an example I used in a past thread, a "20 year green belt" that has grown as a person of character even though he/she has not been promoted to BB.
 

Tgace

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If the student dosent have it when he comes in the door. No ammount of MA classes is going to give it to him. How does anybody know who a person really is, or change who a person is, when you only see him/her 4-6 hours out of the week?
 

Andrew Green

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Sportsmanship is a very important thing.

It is a shame that sports have been losing it as a result of sport becoming a high paid professional entertainment business where poor sportsmanship sells tickets. (See pro-wrestling) but that doesn't mean we as individual coaches can't take the right path ourselves.

Sportsmanship can and should be coached, and there is a ton of books out there on the subject for anyone that doesn't know how to go about doing this. Just go to the coaching section at a public or university library and you should find lots of resources.

As for testing, yes there are things you can look for.

Does this person give a good effort all the time?

Do they respect the referee/judges decissions?

Do they brag / show off when winning?

Do they take losses without becoming angry?

Do they help out newer / less skilled students, or just walk all over them?

Are they attentive when directions are being given?

Do they have fun wether they win or lose?

Do they value skill development, or just winning and external reward?

Do they congratulate and support people that pull ahead of them, or do they make excuses and blame favouritism and become jealous?

Lots of stuff to it, lots to coach. But if you want it to grow you got to set the example...
 

hardheadjarhead

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Tgace said:
If the student dosent have it when he comes in the door. No ammount of MA classes is going to give it to him. How does anybody know who a person really is, or change who a person is, when you only see him/her 4-6 hours out of the week?


I disagree.

I've seen a number of students develop character through training. An instructor--though example and leadership--can cultivate integrity, moral courage, physical courage and a positive work ethic in students. You might argue that the seed for such development must first be there, but who nutures the seed?

Measurement of character isn't as difficult as one might think. It is the public's (and martial arts school's) estimation of a person. It is an assessment of their personality traits, their strengths and weaknesses. An upstanding member of a community--a member of the city council-- who trains in martial arts clearly has a measure of character deemed worthy of the public at large. A rogue who gets into routine fights on the weekends would place slightly lower.


Regards,


Steve
 

Tgace

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Yes, I can agree with that statement.

I guess Im saying that "character" involves a lot of things. Some /many that are beyond the scope of MA training. Football/Baesball/Basketball etc. also involves a lot of the same traits you mentioned, but many athletes are also of questionable character. I hesitate to place too much stock into the "athletics makes better people" theory. They are a valuable tool yes.

I would also think that you would have to expect the same "character" standards of all students. A white belt shouldnt get a "pass" because he hasnt developed the same character of a black belt. Maybe a little more patience might be given to a new student until you get to know him/her better though.

To sum up my rambling... I think you need to concentrate on getting (and keeping) people of good character in your school more than you need to concentrate on "making your students people of character".
 

hardheadjarhead

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I guess Im saying that "character" involves a lot of things. Some /many that are beyond the scope of MA training. Football/Baesball/Basketball etc. also involves a lot of the same traits you mentioned, but many athletes are also of questionable character. I hesitate to place too much stock into the "athletics makes better people" theory. They are a valuable tool yes.

<snip>

To sum up my rambling... I think you need to concentrate on getting (and keeping) people of good character in your school more than you need to concentrate on "making your students people of character".



I don't always get a choice. Then too, I'm not sure I want to turn all the "hard cases" away. I don't play gatekeeper to the martial arts.

Tonight I was working with a seven year old beginner who was simply awful. He screws around in class and is constantly pressing the boundaries of decorum. After class he was even worse with his mother. I've never seen a child so disrespectful of a parent. I suspect this is why she's brought him to me.

This kid is a challenge--but one I accept. If he stays in training I might be able to teach him basic manners and respect for others, self-discipline, confidence, self-worth, etc. I've managed to do it with other children (and some adults) over the years. Note that I haven't been the sole entity of intervention in their lives nor would I arrogate myself by claiming to be. There have been parents, ministers, teachers, counselors and therapists backing up what I've been able to contribute. For those success stories in which they rightfully share, we have had an unwitting, yet effective, alliance.

So for me, and these more difficult charges, martial arts goes beyond technique and fighting skill and well into the realm of character development. The arts become a vehicle for emotional growth and maturation of the personality...and not just for the student, but the teacher as well.

I don't expect others outside of my school to view it this way. For some, character development is of no consequence. The art and mastery of it alone suffice.

And while finding and keeping people of good character in my school is a very nice thing, helping in whatever way I can to build a person of good character gives an enduring satisfaction that life's pleasures rarely surpass.

Regards,


Steve
 

Tgace

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And that is admirable. As you are one of the first people Ive seen to address this issue up front, what do you think about the 3 questions from the original post? We got involved in a debate with somebody who stated that character was part of the promotion structure.

1. Can you truly measure character? If so, how?

2. If you have some kind of "character" requirement for promotion, how do you specify, train, test and 'measure' character in your rank structure/promotion system?

3. What character training do you have in place that justifies the 'measuring' or promotion of students based on 'character ranking?' in conjunction with skill ranking?

Where do "character" and rank/promotion intersect in your school?
 

hardheadjarhead

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Tgace said:
And that is admirable. As you are one of the first people Ive seen to address this issue up front, what do you think about the 3 questions from the original post? We got involved in a debate with somebody who stated that character was part of the promotion structure.



Where do "character" and rank/promotion intersect in your school?


I don't have it as a part of my promotion structure. How did they propose to do it? Can you give me a link to the thread? I'd be interested in seeing that.

As far as the intersection of the two, I'll confess it is subjective. If I feel a student is missing the boat, I'll refuse to promote them until they meet my expectations.


Regards,


Steve
 
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lvwhitebir

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There are some helpers out there to build character (e.g., www.sixtasks.com). I've created my own similar to this. I only use it for the kids although it's available for the adults if they choose to do it. For the kids, the objective portion is completion of the specific tasks (e.g., acts of kindness, mentoring, book reports) at each level. If they don't complete the tasks, they don't graduate.

There is also a subjective component as well which I apply to both the adults and kids. I mainly measure how they work out in class, how they treat others, and how they treat themselves. I won't promote any to a high rank unless they show respect for others, self-respect, and a desire to learn.

WhiteBirch
 

Fight with attitude

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Andrew Green said:
Sportsmanship is a very important thing.
....
Lots of stuff to it, lots to coach. But if you want it to grow you got to set the example...
I agree that sportsmanship is very important. It's something that not many people in the sports world have.

Lots of people in sports earn respect by disrespecting other people in sports, thats a golden rule.

Also there is a lot of ego in the way people train. Some may not be as overt as others, it can be anywhere from a "look" to "I took it easy on you because I didn't want to knock you out." In both cases the person is trying to be more intimating.

I also agree that coaches need to set an example. It's pretty hard to find places that teach good character. Unfortunately to many people in this world are still taught that you gain respect by disrespecting other people.
 

Andrew Green

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Fight with attitude said:
I also agree that coaches need to set an example. It's pretty hard to find places that teach good character. Unfortunately to many people in this world are still taught that you gain respect by disrespecting other people.
That is because they watch too much pro-wrestling :D
 

Bob Hubbard

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In order to measure, one must first define what it is they are measuring.

Character - the inherent complex of attributes that determine a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions

Thusly defined, one must then determine if a means of measuring said object or concept exists.

First, we must understand that character is not a measure of competence. You may have a highly skilled martial artist who knows techniques cold, and has speed that would make Bruce Lee envious. He may also be a complete cad with no morals or ethics at all.
Therefore Character != Competence or Skill.

It is also not a measure of intelligence. There have throughout history been a number of individuals who had great intelligence, however had quite questionable characters.
Therefore Character != Intelligence.

So, having defined a few of what character is not, and a vague idea of what it is, can we measure it?

Yes, and No.

First, you must define for yourself or your organization what 'good character' is to you.
Items like "sexual morals" vary throughout the world and for that matter varies with the passage of time. 100 years ago people swan in full body coverings. Today, they wear practically nothing.

We can make some assumptions for the US. I am not familiar with other cultures enough to comment on them.
In the US, you are of 'good character' if:
* trying to do your best to...
- take care of your partners
- follow the rules of the school
- be a responsible person such as living up to your word
- be a good example to your juniors in the school
* obeys the laws of society
* is prompt, polite and respectful

These are of course just possible ideas. If one does not consider a neat appearance part of good character, then it is not something one would look for when measuring it in others.


Ones character may also change over time. Personal experience, tragedy or other outside influences may cause a change in ones values. In some cases, biological changes also may cause character changes. One often hears of the promiscuous youth who at a later point in life finds enlightenment and begins preaching against the ways of their youth. Should this person still be judged on the values of their youth?

One way to measure the 'values' of another is to observe their actions, and compare them to their words or otherwise professed beliefs.

In measuring others character we often measure them by our own 'perfect' ideals, a measure we ourselves would often fail at as well.
 

Fight with attitude

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Kaith Rustaz said:
We can make some assumptions for the US. I am not familiar with other cultures enough to comment on them.
In the US, you are of 'good character' if:
* trying to do your best to...
- take care of your partners
- follow the rules of the school
- be a responsible person such as living up to your word
- be a good example to your juniors in the school
* obeys the laws of society
* is prompt, polite and respectful
You can try and do your best in all of those and still not be highly moral. Some people are egocentric, they evaluate there acts in terms of consequences not in terms of right and wrong.

A high stage of morals involves acceptance of ethical principles that apply to everyone... like "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".
 
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loki09789

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Kaith Rustaz said:
In order to measure, one must first define what it is they are measuring.



Thusly defined, one must then determine if a means of measuring said object or concept exists.


One way to measure the 'values' of another is to observe their actions, and compare them to their words or otherwise professed beliefs.

In measuring others character we often measure them by our own 'perfect' ideals, a measure we ourselves would often fail at as well.
All the more reason to work from a 'code of conduct' that outlines observable behavior and the ideological value that you as the organization, evaluator, 'owner of the castle' are linking to that behavior.

It should be written out clearly, read by the instructor to new people and have a signature that indicates that the new members understand and will comply with the 'code of conduct' and understand the repercussions of any 'breach.' It should be reinforced daily during class and praised when evidence of students internalizing the 'code' is demonstrated by actions, words or deeds without prompts or cues. Of course, sometimes those 'demonstrations' may very well be motivated by a desire other than altruistic.

At worst, everyone works from the same sheet of music, even if the motives are not the most altruistic - but the class/group runs smoothly. At best, people really internalize and desire to 'be good' and act within the code from that motivation and the group becomes a real team bonded because of a common ideal/experience and not because of a common enemy like "Yeah, those TKD people really suck - we're way better than them" or what ever 'enemy' sometimes get used to create a unification motive for bonding.

You see it in school/work all the time.

People who follow the rules because they just want to avoid the problems of bucking the system - they tend to be the 'just enougher's'.

The people who are "acting" the rules because they want to have a good rep, please a father figure/authority (maybe even unconsciously) or pull an Eddie Haskel (from Leave it to Beaver) and are just being slick (there for consciously) - tend to be the 'salesman' or 'politicians.'

The people who are just doing it because it is right and makes the whole experience better for themselves and others too. They work hard and are cooperative but tend to shrug off praise and don't feed off of or seek any hero worship that may happen from newbies/kids in the class.

And the "converted" or people who are 'really into it' because they are working through issues and trying to grow as people, so they over do the enthusiasm and expressions - but with good intentions and a sincere heart.

The sticking point is how to deal with a conduct breach that happens outside of the class. In the class is easy, that is your 'house' so you can enforce the policies. If it happens outside of class, how does that get handled ethically from the stand point of the Head instructor?

For instance, a student commits adultery and is in the process of a separation/divorce. Is that a 'breach of character' that would constitute some action from the school?

What about a DWI, or some other chargeable offense? When and how do you as an instructor deal with that, if at all?

When is the idea that the group could act as a support network to help the 'offender' work through his/her problems and come out better from lessons learned the better idea than acting like judge and jury and 'stoning' the person for something that 'But for the Grace of God' could be anyone else - including the instructor - in that very situation?

Each case is unique, but starting with a clearly stated code of conduct that is based on a clearly stated philosophy/mission statement is a good foundation to start from.

It also reduces the 'case' against you if 'mother of America' gets upset because you held little johnny accountable and kicked him out of class because of his breach of conduct. Keeping your ducks in a row can help you avoid losing time and money in civil court as well. That shouldn't be the primary motive for any of this stuff, but it is a realistic benefit.
 

Tgace

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Submitted for "edumocational" purposes only, a study/report on evaluating and developing "character" through the JROTC program. Interesting in relation to this discussion.

http://www.westga.edu/~sclimate/jrotc.htm

The impact of character education curriculums in the past has been measured by decreases in office referrals for discipline infractions, and this is only one aspect of character. What has been missing is a suitable instrument for measuring student behavior associated with a number of character traits. An instrument or survey has been developed that consists of 96 items associated with the following 16 character traits: respect for self, others and property, honesty, self control/discipline,integrity/fairness, kindness, responsibility/dependability/accountability, perseverance/diligence/motivation, cooperation, compassion/empathy, courtesy/politeness, forgiveness, patriotism/ citizenship, tolerance of diversity, humility, generosity/charity, and sportsmanship. Students respond to each of the items based on how they see or hear students performing on these behaviors. The reliability coefficient of the instrument is +.96 (Bulach, 2000; Bulach and Butler, in press).
 
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