The Rise of Character Education in Britain

Heroes, Dragons and the Myths of Character

  • Lee Jerome
  • Ben Kisby

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Young People and Politics book series (PSYPP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-vii
  2. Lee Jerome, Ben Kisby
    Pages 1-8
  3. Lee Jerome, Ben Kisby
    Pages 9-28
  4. Lee Jerome, Ben Kisby
    Pages 29-55
  5. Lee Jerome, Ben Kisby
    Pages 83-106
  6. Lee Jerome, Ben Kisby
    Pages 107-124
  7. Lee Jerome, Ben Kisby
    Pages 125-134
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 135-138

About this book


‘This is a provocative indictment of the character education movement that deconstructs its invidious content: indoctrination that denies socio-economic poverty, human rights and solidarity in a message of anti-political individualism. Character education is a clear and present danger for schools and young people, and this analysis deserves a wide audience.’

–Alistair Ross, Jean Monnet Professor of Citizenship Education in Europe and Emeritus Professor, London Metropolitan University, UK

‘Jerome and Kisby provide a useful intellectual critique of the conceptual basis of character education currently being proposed in Britain. After reading this book, I’m convinced that, in the challenging world in which we now live, the individualistic focus on ‘developing character’ and the flawed ideas around it such as ‘developing grit’ are a dangerous distraction.’

–Marcus Bhargava, Head of School of Education, Kingston University London, UK

What is character education? Why has it risen up the political agenda in the UK in recent years? And what does it mean in pedagogical practice? This book addresses these questions, challenging the individualistic and moralistic ideas underlying the clamour amongst politicians, educators and authors to promote ‘grit’, ‘resilience’ and ‘character’ in schools. Closely examining a range of teaching resources, the book shows that the development of character is wrongly presented as the solution to a wide variety of social problems, with individual citizens expected to accommodate themselves to the realities of the contemporary economic context, rather than enhancing their capacities to engage in civic and political activities to bring about changes they wish to see. The book argues that there is a tried and tested alternative to character education, which is far more likely to strengthen British democracy, namely, citizenship education.

Lee Jerome is Associate Professor of Education at Middlesex University, UK.

Ben Kisby is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Lincoln, UK.


education for character education policy UK character education projects citizenship education virtue ethics Aristotle public ethics character-building social mobility policy community John Templeton Foundation teaching resources conservatism individualism paternalism de-politicisation muscular Christianity neo-liberalism pluralism curriculum transposition

Authors and affiliations

  • Lee Jerome
    • 1
  • Ben Kisby
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Health and EducationMiddlesex UniversityLondonUK
  2. 2.School of Social and Political SciencesUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Pivot, Cham
  • eBook Packages Education
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-27760-4
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-27761-1
  • Buy this book on publisher's site