Learning for Life: Moral Education Theory and Practice

Learning for Life: Moral Education Theory and Practice

Learning for Life: Moral Education Theory and Practice

Learning for Life: Moral Education Theory and Practice

Synopsis

There is a growing consensus in society on the need for schools and colleges to address the issue of moral education, despite argument over the philosophy and psychology that should guide it and the practice that should characterize it. This compilation is reflective of the cognitive developmental approach associated primarily with Lawrence Kohlberg and his colleagues, and includes recent theoretical writing on moral education. Some topics addressed are the ethic of care; accounts of moral education programs in the classroom and on the athletic field; and discussions of democratic governance in schools.

Excerpt

There is a growing consensus in society that schools and even colleges need to address the issue of moral education, despite arguments over the philosophy and psychology that should guide it and the practice that should characterize it. The familiar litany of juvenile crime, drugs, adolescent pregnancy, the school drop-out rate, and questionable ethics in high places has led to a rekindling of debate. In a period of perceived declining standards, what exactly should educational institutions do about ethical guidance for our youth? How can institutions choose values acceptable to a pluralistic society from among sometimes competing demands from different groups?

The determination to enhance morality, build character, and strengthen ethical standards in the young has found expression in three theoretical models of moral education -- values clarification, cognitive development, and character education -- that differ radically in their assumptions, methods, and interest in measuring the success of programs derived from the models. These three models have each had a period of ascendancy in the United States in the last 30 years. Values clarification, linked with the names of Rath, Harmin, and Simon and dominant in the 1960s takes as its starting point the philosophy that values are personal things. Given the plurality in our culture of religious, moral, political, and ideological perspectives, values must be a matter of personal concern, reflection, and choice, not of indoctrination or subjugation of the individual to the group in the values domain (Chazan 1985). Through clarifying questions, the teacher must help the students look at alternative values and understand and cherish the values they do choose. Although the model does not appear to be informed by an organic theory and is . . .

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