An Analysis of the Pedagogical Approaches to Character Formation in Kenyan Schools: In Search of an Alternative
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Kenya has been witnessing a persistent increase in cases of individuals displaying negative social dispositions, indicating a nation on the moral decline. Evidently, majority of the citizens continue to act contrary to such basic values like respect, honesty, responsibility and diligence, a situation that threatens harmonious coexistence and consequently national progress. The above state of affairs has prevailed despite efforts by the government to inculcate good character among children through schools. This study therefore, ventured to investigate the approaches that Kenyan primary and secondary schools have been employing in their effort to form positive character among pupils. This prompted an evaluation that aimed at understanding and enriching the approaches, or proposing a more viable alternative that would facilitate realization of good character. Thus, the objectives of the study were to explore the concept and significance of character formation; establish how Kenya has carried out the practice of character formation over the years; evaluate the pedagogy thus employed; and propose a more viable alternative. To understand how character is formed, the study was guided by Aristotle’s theory of Moral Virtue, which would be operationalized by Thomas Lickona’s model of Comprehensive Character Education. Both Aristotle and Lickona hold that good character is developed over time through a sustained process of teaching, role modeling, learning and practice. For Aristotle, intellectual understanding of virtue allows one to perceive what is right, while moral virtue aids one in carrying out actions correctly and justly. To this effect, Lickona prescribes a model that can guide the creation of good character through education programmes in which pupils are taught in an intelligible way. The study employed the Analytic and Socratic methods. First, the conceptual analysis assisted the researcher to evaluate documents such as government policies, syllabi, research reports and Character Education programmes, for insights. Thereafter, the Socratic Method came in to enable the researcher to reflect on the rationale behind the approach to character formation before proceeding to propose a way forward. After a critical analysis, the study observed that the approaches in place are grossly deficient in terms of design and implementation. It thus concluded that this state of affairs could be contributing to the continued failure to nurture individuals of good character. Pursuant to this, the study recommended a comprehensive review of the existent approaches so that they are formulated in line with integral character education trends.