The Character Building Project

Michael J. Kerrigan


I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;

I’d rather one should walk with me merely tell the way.

The eye is a better pupil and more willing than the ear;

Fine counsel is confusing, but example’s always clear;

And the best of all the preachers are those who live their creeds

For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.


I can soon learn to do if you’ll let me see it done;

I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run

And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,

But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do;

For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,

But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.


One good person teaches many, we believe what we behold;

One deed… Continue reading


Recently, we identified organizations and institutions whose mission it is to restore character in our culture. These culture shapers and character policy experts necessarily have a philosophy, strategy, agenda, theory or advocate educational movements offering diverse curricula and internet based online courses as the foundation of their character building.

Without taking sides or offering a nuanced explanation of various educational approaches, my present aim is merely to affirm the existence of many differing theories and educational practices regarding how character is acquired.  Character formation has been a component of every educational reform movement in this country. As you will see, character education comes in many forms and under many names and the character movement has many competing policy programs. What goes by the name “character education” does not mean the same thing each time it is used. The reader can be the judge as to what exactly… Continue reading



Diving into the deep waters of character education, I have found since the 1890’s (starting with the theories of John Dewey) the American character education industry to be a huge and complex network. The character industry includes a multitude of organizations with many agendas or “educational movements” while offering a wide variety of  conferences,  curricula, non-partisan coalitions, collaborative efforts, signed declarations, journals, issued reports, mandated character education legislation and federal funding of character education, major educational associations, manifestos, magazines, panels of character experts, published books, hosted summits, and stood up web sites non-profit and commercial ventures.

The mission of many of these organizations and associations is to influence how character is being taught and decide which values to emphasize. Debates over values can raise deeper questions about the agendas that are often attached to those debates. A way to interpret those agendas is to determine who benefits… Continue reading


The protests of the 1960s led to a fall of many established American values such as; respect for authority and rules, sexual restraint, hard work and patriotism. We now live in a time of moral relativism so it is not surprising a recent Gallup poll reports most Americans (72%) continue to believe the state of moral values in the U.S. is “getting worse,” while 22% say it is “getting better.” Large majorities have said the state of moral values in the U.S. is declining since Gallup started asking this question annually in 2002.

The Character Building Project’s mission is to engage the character community; social scientists, politicians and lay people searching for solutions to the problems of decaying morals and declining civility. Some see the solution of character education from the perspective the traditional virtues centered approach, others a cognitive development approach, while others from a more… Continue reading


imagesBecause I am presently researching Character in America, I have been invited to share more of my favorite quotations.

People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.


Sir Edmund Hillary


People tend to become what they think about themselves.

William James


The right man in the right place is a devastating weapon.

Motto of the U.S. Special Forces


Without heroes the rest of us don’t know how far we can go in life.

Bernard Malamud


Few things are impossible to diligence and skill; great works are not by strength but by perseverance.

Dr. Samuel Johnson


Competitive golf is played on a five inch course; the space between your ears.

Bobby Jones


When all is said and done, usually more is said than done.

Lou Holtz


Everyone has the will to win. What’s far more important is… Continue reading

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Mottoes & Quotes

The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.

— Anne Frank

For the Visually Impaired

Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.