Goodness, Niceness, and Higher Ideals: (Stages Three, Four, Five, and Six)
Jo had been a very shy child, which could have hurt her moral development by cutting her off from others. She was fortunate to receive counseling that stimulated her playfulness and imagination. Being brought out of herself enabled Jo to look at the world from the perspective of others. Tom was encouraged to think morally by his older siblings and by observing the interaction of his extended family. His reaching out to unpopular peers showed a superior ability to extend himself for others. He was a natural leader. Both of these students were free of even the conventional, majority-held prejudices that are easily produced at stages three and four.
In this chapter, we will look at the characteristics of Stages of Respect three and four. Moral stages five and six will also be discussed briefly as goals in adulthood that moral education should foster eventually, although school children do not achieve these advanced stages. The chapter concludes with a fuller examination of what causes moral stage change.
At stage three, for the first time, social concepts such as friendship, trust, relationship, and society are fully understood as implying mutuality and agreement between persons. With increasing frequency and pleasure, the child is able to share the feelings, as well as the thoughts, of valued people. Relationships with a great deal of communication are enjoyed. Taking the perspective of another leads to understanding, which then leads to mutual desires to maintain shared expectations and approval.
The child now sees what could not be seen before -- the limits of the selfish egoism of stage two for producing fairness. A more optimistic world view can be experienced as altruistic motives gain importance. It is possible to see what is good as what is natural and agreed upon by a