Character Compass

Character Compass How Powerful School Culture Can Point Students Toward Success

Scott Seider, foreword by Howard Gardner
Pub. Date: October 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-488-9
paper, 296 Pages
Pub. Date: October 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-486-5
Price: $33.00

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2013 American Educational Research Association's (AERA) Moral Development and Education Outstanding Book Award

In Character Compass, Scott Seider offers portraits of three high-performing urban schools in Boston, Massachusetts that have made character development central to their mission of supporting student success, yet define character in three very different ways.


Scott Seider, a rising star in the field of education, has crafted an eloquent presentation of the lessons learned from three case studies of character education. Rather than present yet another implementation model, Character Compass highlights the importance of process, context, diversity, and commitment to a vision. This is a unique, intelligent, articulate, and valuable addition to the body of knowledge informing best practices in character education. — Marvin W. Berkowitz, Sanford N. McDonnell Professor of Character Education, University of Missouri–St. Louis

In this timely and solidly researched book, Scott Seider offers a vivid account of how three Boston-area charter schools cultivate character in their students. Seider carefully examines the distinct ways that the schools foster moral, behavioral, and civic dimensions of character, making the case throughout that a school’s efforts to foster character do not come at the expense of academic achievement—rather, they enhance it. This book will be an important read for educators, policy makers, and citizens who care about the full character development of the young. — William Damon, professor of education and director of the Center on Adolescence, Stanford University

Character Compass challenges me to reflect on our school’s curriculum, programming, practices, and messages. In what ways are we influencing our students’ character development, and in what ways are we missing opportunities to explicitly define and reinforce attitudes, beliefs, and actions that will positively shape their character? — Peggy Kemp, headmaster, Fenway High School, Boston

If you are interested in character education across a district, within a school, or in a single classroom, Character Compass is for you. Seider not only offers a strong theoretical framework to help guide big-picture decision making, he also provides rich, nuanced descriptions of how the character programs actually play out in schools. I can’t wait to share these portraits with my graduate students. — Brent Maddin, provost and professor, Relay Graduate School of Education

This is a critical book for anyone interested in character development in education—especially reformers who are focusing on cultivating traits like grit and perseverance. — Chris Pupik Dean, Ph.D., Perspectives on Urban Education

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About the Author

Scott Seider is an assistant professor of education at Boston University, where his research focuses on the civic and character development of adolescents and emerging adults. He is a former secondary teacher in the Westwood (Massachusetts) and Boston Public Schools. Dr. Seider is the author of Shelter: Where Harvard Meets the Homeless (Continuum, 2010), which won the American Educational Research Association’s Moral Development and Education Outstanding Book Award, and coeditor of The Engaged Campus: Certificates, Minors, and Majors as the New Community Engagement (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). He also writes the “Civic Engagement on Campus” column for the Journal of College and Character.

E-book available through online booksellers

Table of Contents

Interview with Author

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