The Formation of Character in Education : From Aristotle to the 21st Century book cover
1st Edition

The Formation of Character in Education
From Aristotle to the 21st Century

ISBN 9781032089942
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
252 Pages

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Book Description

The Formation of Character: From Aristotle to the 21st Century offers an introduction to the foundations, practices, policies and issues of character formation historically. Following a chronological order, it charts the idea of character formation in the Western tradition by critically examining its precursors, origins, development, meanings and uses.

The book is based on the premise that current conditions and debates around character formation cannot be fully understood without knowledge of the historical background. It introduces many of the debates character formation has generated in order to offer different perspectives and possibilities and uses Aristotle as a lens to gain a better understanding of some of these positions, particularly the theoretical goals of character formation. Chapters explore character education from the classical period through the medieval, early modern, enlightenment and Victorian eras to 20th century influences, ending with a discussion of contemporary policies and themes relating to character education.

This book will appeal to academics, researchers, and post-graduate students in the fields of character and virtue education as well as the history of education.

Table of Contents



  1. Definitions and Models of Character
  2. Section 1 Foundations

  3. Classical
  4. Medieval
  5. Early Modern
  6. Enlightenment
  7. Section 2 Practices


  8. The English Public School
  9. Victorian Character Formation
  10. Twentieth Century Influences on Character Formation
  11. Section 3 Policies and Issues

  12. Contemporary Policies and Themes

    10. Conclusion


Further Reading


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James Arthur is Professor of Education and Civic Engagement and Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, UK.