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The Character Chronicles Review by Kathy Gelzer

David H. Elkind and Freddy Sweet, producers
Live Wire Media
273 Ninth St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

The Character Chronicles is a six-DVD character curriculum set for upper elementary and middle school students (specifically 4th through 8th graders) Each DVD runs for approximately 25 minutes and covers one of "the six pillars of character": trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. Each of the six videos lists at $69.95 or $359.50 for the entire series.

A facilitator's guide is included on each DVD, but it can be accessed only through your computer's DVD ROM drive or as a PDF file through the website. This guide covers how to use the video, a definition of the character trait, program content, discussion questions, written assignments, group activities, and some related website links.

There are questions in the facilitator's guide to ask before watching the video and questions to ask afterwards. It is suggested that the teacher use the Socratic Method where "the teacher asks a series of questions that lead the students to examine the validity of an opinion or belief."

This secular video series is geared to the classroom setting. It uses the perspective of a teenage blogger to introduce the topic. The video is then made up of skits, interviews, group discussions, documentaries and finally the blogger's conclusion.

This "hip, modern, energetic style" of fast-paced video clips would appeal to most young people today. The skits do a good job of showing the negatives of lying, being irresponsible, etc. There are some excellent examples of community service projects led by kids.

However, there were some aspects that concerned me. During the group discussions, there is no adult perspective. When the kids are portraying some of the negative behaviors, they communicate disrespect for their parents and sometimes laugh about what their parents have said to them. The discussion of lying almost made lying to parents seem like the norm and even funny or "cute."

Parents will want to be forewarned that the videos contain worldly dress in the form of low necklines and androgynous hairstyles. The Lord's name is taken in vain, also.

What disturbed me the most was the shallow and selfish reasoning given for adopting these character traits. For example, on the responsibility video, the blogger host concludes by saying we should avoid irresponsibility for three reasons: it hurts our relationships, it makes people mad at us, and it takes away our power to control our lives. The focus is on oneself--not others. I believe this is a result of the secular rather than Biblical perspective of the video series.

Although I don't think many Christian homeschool families would find these videos helpful, the series could be a good tool for outreach ministry to youth to get them thinking about these qualities.

Product review by: Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008