Why Are We Ashamed to Preach Morality? atop Educationist Argues That We Are Failing to Instill in Our Childrenthe Difference between Right and Wrong

Daily Mail (London), January 15, 1996 | Go to article overview

Why Are We Ashamed to Preach Morality? atop Educationist Argues That We Are Failing to Instill in Our Childrenthe Difference between Right and Wrong


Byline: Dr NICHOLAS TATE

SOMETHING seems to be going wrong in our society. Something which, if we are not careful, may undermine our values, our traditions, the very fabric of our civilisation.

Everyone knows its manifestations. They are to be found in the wanton vandalism which disfigures so many of our communities, in the culture of yobbery and violence among some sections of the young, in a brute indifference to others, in narrow horizons and pinched, empty lives.

Where did the rot start? If we could answer that one with any certainty, it might be possible to propose effective solutions. But where should we begin? With parents? With the police? With schools? The Government? If we're looking for scapegoats there's no shortage of candidates who can be saddled - fairly or not - with the blame.

But, of course, it isn't enough simply to point the finger at others. If we are facing a crisis which threatens all our values, it concerns every one of us.

Today I shall be addressing a major conference in London. The theme is education for adult life. The subject I shall be attacking concerns spiritual and moral aspects of the curriculum.

Our schools are, in spite of awful recent events, by and large, very moral places. They genuinely try, as so many families, churches and charitable organisations try, to keep the beacon of civilisation alight.

Some examples: most schools try to shore up the moral fabric of society by insisting on rules of good behaviour. Many encourage pupils to undertake community services, like doing the shopping for housebound elderly people.

Others pride themselves in setting an example in decent living. At one place I know of, teachers clubbed together to buy food, presents and a Christmas tree for the family of a pupil whose mother had left home to become a prostitute.

Such things are part of the traditional missions education: to try and create, in that old-fashioned phrase, `a virtuous society'.

The pity is that the efforts of schools can so easily be undermined by society itself. We live in a world, sadly, where the old rules and disciplines are often ignored or ridiculed. I suspect that is where our problems really begin.

Not so long ago, children were brought up in the knowledge of basic principals, most of which were both pithy and memorable. The Ten Commandments. The Seven Deadly Sins. The Seven principle virtues. These, together with popular sayings such as `Do as you would be done by' or `common decency' gave everyone a framework of acceptable behaviour.

Today the old certainties have gone. We are reluctant to condemn in absolute terms, no matter what their offence. We hear phrases all the time like `But that's only my opinion' or `But I don't wish to be judgmental.' It is as though we no longer dare to stand up for what we know is right.

What has happened in Britain, as in so much of the Western world, is the spread of an all-pervasive relativism. By that I mean the view that morality is largely a matter of taste or opinion, that there are few if any absolute rights or wrongs.

It is a dangerously widespread view. A MORI poll last year showed that 41 per cent of 15 to 35-year-olds felt that morality always depends on circumstances. Studies among trainee teachers, meanwhile, suggest they are deeply reluctant to do anything which might imply they are imposing ethnocentric, class or gender values on their pupils.

This truly is alarming. Here are people who will shortly be standing before classrooms who seem to think that truths and values are always relative, that they are never universal.

It is nonsense, of course. If we are unable to make clear, moral distinctions, we become incapable of making any judgments at all. We leave children bewildered, with no guidelines in life. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Why Are We Ashamed to Preach Morality? atop Educationist Argues That We Are Failing to Instill in Our Childrenthe Difference between Right and Wrong
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.