The Rehabilitation of Virtue: Foundations of Moral Education

By Robert T. Sandin | Go to book overview

not from a position of superiority.

The dialectical method of moral and spiritual education is based on the assumption that the key factor affecting the discovery of moral and spiritual truth is conceptual clarity. The function of the teacher is to serve as an occasion through which the learner may remove the conceptual confusion and inattention that are the primary obstacles to his grasp of truth. The Socratic teacher challenges the self-assurance of the learner by asking, "Are you sure you know what you think you know?" In the moral field the questions posed by the Socratic teaching concern the underlying structure of the concepts of value, duty, and virtue. Until that conceptual structure is clear, no one can have assurance that his own moral convictions are authentic and reliable. In the religious field the Socratic teaching draws attention to the authenticity of faith, so that the possible superficiality and illusoriness of religiosity may be explored. The teacher asks, "So you are a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew? But are you sure you know what it means to really be a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew?"

Those who teach by introducing the "irritation of doubt" are often resented by those whose self-assurance they unsettle. Most students prefer to be indebted to their teachers. Yet the teacher of virtue who leaves his students continually dependent on him does not serve them well. To be an agent in the formation of a coherent faith in the human spirit is the highest calling of a teacher. Yet no matter how earnestly he may desire a happy and successful result, no such teacher may, as Kierkegaard warns, ever go beyond Socrates.


SUMMARY

Religious faith may be integrated with learning in a manner that is entirely consistent with the nature of scholarship. But it is only by guaranteeing freedom in the processes of scholarly examination of the various religious traditions that theology can dwell in the house of intellect. Freedom is founded on seriousness of inquiry; and inquiry in a classroom is founded on a dialectical method of instruction. A school in which there is nothing but authoritative advocacy may succeed in indoctrinating, but it cannot educate. A true religious faith will always allow for flexibility in theological articulation and for progress in theological science so as to guarantee freedom in the scholarly examination of its meaning and implications.

A program of education in values must provide for both cognitive

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The Rehabilitation of Virtue: Foundations of Moral Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • I - Values in Retreat 17
  • Summary 30
  • 2 - The Teaching of Values 31
  • 3 - Values Without Philosophy 43
  • 4 - The Anti-Intellectualism of the Schools 55
  • Summary 70
  • 5 - Values in Development 72
  • Summary 87
  • 6 - The Realm of Value 89
  • 7 - Utility and Value 110
  • Summary 124
  • 8 - Thinking and Valuing 126
  • 9 - Reasons for Being Moral 143
  • Summary 156
  • 10 - Education and Virtue 158
  • Summary 182
  • 11 - The Structure of Virtue 184
  • Summary 207
  • 12 - Spirituality Without Illusion 210
  • 13 - Toward a Spiritual Education 231
  • Summary 245
  • Notes 247
  • Selected Bibliography for Values Education 267
  • Index 279
  • About the Author 283
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