The idea behind Core Knowledge® is simple and powerful: knowledge builds on knowledge. The more you know, the more you are able to learn. This insight, well-established by cognitive science, has profound implications for teaching and learning. Nearly all of our most important goals for education–greater reading comprehension, the ability to think critically and solve problems, even higher test scores–are a function of the depth and breadth of our knowledge.
By outlining the precise content that every child should learn in language arts and literature, history and geography, mathematics, science, music, and the visual arts, the Core Knowledge® curriculum represents a first-of-its-kind effort to identify the foundational knowledge every child needs to reach these goals–and to teach it, grade-by-grade, year-by-year, in a coherent, age-appropriate sequence.
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The CHARACTER COUNTS!® approach to character education doesn’t exclude anyone. That’s why we base our programs and materials on six ethical values that everyone can agree on — values that are not political, religious, or culturally biased. These six ethical values are known as the six pillars of character.
These pillars are Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. The Six Pillars act as a multi-level filter through which to process decisions. So, being trustworthy is not enough — we must also be caring. Adhering to the letter of the law is not enough — we must accept responsibility for our action or inaction.
The Pillars can help us detect situations where we focus so hard on upholding one moral principle that we sacrifice another — where, intent on holding others accountable, we ignore the duty to be compassionate; where, intent on getting a job done, we ignore how. In short, the Six Pillars can dramatically improve the ethical quality of our decisions, and thus our character and lives.
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