- Bringing Up Moral Children in an Immoral World
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Only a handful of educational theorists hold the view that if only the adult world would get out of the way, children would ripen into fully realized people. Most thinkers, educational practitioners, and parents acknowledge that children are born helpless and need the care and guidance of adults into their teens and often beyond. More specifically, children need to learn how to live harmoniously in society. Historically, the mission of schools has been to develop in the young both the intellectual and the moral virtues.
Concern for the moral virtues, such as honesty, responsibility, and respect for others, is the domain of moral education.
Moral education, then, refers to helping children acquire those virtues or moral habits that will help them individually live good lives and at the same time become productive, contributing members of their communities. In this view, moral education should contribute not only to the students as individuals, but also to the social cohesion of a community. The word moral comes from a Latin root mos, moris and means the code or customs of a people, the social glue that defines how individuals should live together. Every enduring community has a moral code and it is the responsibility and the concern of its adults to instill this code in the hearts and minds of its young.
Since the advent of schooling, adults have expected the schools to contribute positively to the moral education of children. When the first common schools were founded in the New World, moral education was the prime concern. New England Puritans believed the moral code resided in the Bible. Therefore, it was imperative that children be taught to read, thus having access to its grounding wisdom. As early as the colony of Massachusetts passed a law requiring parents to educate their children.
Bringing Up Moral Children in an Immoral World
In the famous Old Deluder Satan Act strengthened the law. Without the ability to read the Scriptures, children would be prey to the snares of Satan.
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The colonial period. As common school spread throughout the colonies, the moral education of children was taken for granted. Formal education had a distinctly moral and religion emphasis. Harvard College was founded to prepare clergy for their work. Those men who carved out the United States from the British crown risked their fortunes, their families, and their very lives with their seditious rebellion.
Most of them were classically educated in philosophy, theology, and political science, so they had learned that history's great thinkers held democracy in low regard. They knew that democracy contained within itself the seeds of its own destruction and could degenerate into mobocracy with the many preying on the few and with political leaders pandering to the citizenry's hunger for bread and circuses.
The founders' writings, particularly those of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John and Abigail Adams, and Benjamin Franklin, are filled with admonitions that their new country make education a high priority. While the early leaders saw economic reasons for more and longer schooling, they were convinced that the form of government they were adopting was, at heart, a moral compact among people. Nineteenth century. As the young republic took shape, schooling was promoted for both secular and moral reasons. In , a time when some of the Founding Fathers were still alive, Abraham Lincoln wrote, in his first political announcement March 9, , "I desire to see a time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present.
He and his followers were worried by the widespread drunkenness, crime, and poverty during the Jacksonian period in which they lived. Of concern, too, were the waves of immigrants flooding into cities, unprepared for urban life and particularly unprepared to participate in democratic civic life. Mann and his supporters saw free public schools as the ethical leaven of society. In , in his twelfth and final report to the Massachusetts Board of Education, he wrote that if children age four to sixteen could experience "the elevating influences of good schools, the dark host of private vices and public crimes, which now embitter domestic peace and stain the civilization of the age, might, in 99 cases in every , be banished from the world" p.
In the nineteenth century, teachers were hired and trained with the clear expectation that they would advance the moral mission of the school and attend to character formation. Literature, biography, and history were taught with the explicit intention of infusing children with high moral standards and good examples to guide their lives. Students' copybook headings offered morally uplifting thoughts: "Quarrelsome persons are always dangerous companions" and "Praise follows exertion.
Victorian morality - Wikipedia
During this period of our evolution as a nation, moral education was deep in the very fabric of our schools. There was, however, something else in the fabric of moral education that caused it to become problematic: religion. In the United States, as a group of colonies and later as a new nation, the overwhelming dominant religion was Protestantism.
While not as prominent as during the Puritan era, the King James Bible was, nevertheless, a staple of U. The root of the moral code was seen as residing there.
However, as waves of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and Italy came to the country from the mid-nineteenth century forward, the pan-Protestant tone and orthodoxy of the schools came under scrutiny and a reaction set in. Concerned that their children would be weaned from their faith, Catholics developed their own school system.
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Later in the twentieth century, other religious groups, such as Jews, Muslims, and even various Protestant denominations, formed their own schools. Each group desired, and continues to desire, that its moral education be rooted in its respective faith or code. Twentieth century. During this same late-nineteenth-century and twentieth-century period, there was also a growing reaction against organized religion and the belief in a spiritual dimension of human existence. Intellectual leaders and writers were deeply influenced by the ideas of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, the German political philosopher Karl Marx, the Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, and the German philosopher and poet Friedrich Nietzsche, and by a growing strict interpretation of the separation of church and state doctrine.
This trend increased after World War II and was further intensified by what appeared to be the large cracks in the nation's moral consensus in the late s. Since for so many Americans the strongest roots of moral truths reside in their religious beliefs, educators and others became wary of using the schools for moral education. More and more this was seen to be the province of the family and the church. Some educators became proponents of "value-free" schooling, ignoring the fact that it is impossible to create a school devoid of ethical issues, lessons, and controversies.
During the last quarter of the twentieth century, as many schools attempted to ignore the moral dimension of schooling, three things happened: Achievement scores began to decline, discipline and behavior problems increased, and voices were raised accusing the schools of teaching secular humanism. As the same time, educators were encouraged to address the moral concerns of students using two approaches: values clarification and cognitive developmental moral education.
The first, values clarification, rests on little theory other than the assumption that students need practice choosing among moral alternatives and that teachers should be facilitators of the clarification process rather than indoctrinators of particular moral ideas or value choices. This approach, although widely practiced, came under strong criticism for, among other things, promoting moral relativism among students. While currently few educators confidently advocate values clarification, its residue of teacher neutrality and hesitance to actively address ethical issues and the moral domain persists.
The second approach, cognitive developmental moral education, sprang from the work of the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget and was further developed by Lawrence Kohlberg. In contrast to values clarification, cognitive moral development is heavy on theory and light on classroom applications. In its most popular form, Kohlberg posited six sequential stages of moral development, which potentially individuals could achieve. Each stage represents a distinctive way an individual thinks about a moral situation or problem. Teachers are encouraged to engage students from an early age and throughout their schooling in discussion of moral issues and dilemmas.
In the later years of his life, Kohlberg was urging educators to transform their schools into "just communities," environments within which students' moral stage development would accelerate. In the early s, amid the widespread concern over students' poor academic achievements and behavior, educators rediscovered the word character.
cars.cleantechnica.com/nias-conejitas-patrn-de-amigurumi.php Moral education had a religious tinge, which made many uneasy. Character with its emphasis on forming good habits and eliminating poor habits struck a popular and traditional chord.
Daniel Dennett’s Science of the Soul
The word character has a Greek root, coming from the verb "to engrave. The early formation of good habits is widely acknowledged to be in the best interests of both the individual and society. In addition, character formation is recognized as something that parents begin early, but the work is hardly completed when a child goes to school.
Implicit in the concept of character is the recognition that adults begin the engraving process of habituation to consideration of others, self-control, and responsibility, then teachers and others contribute to the work, but eventually the young person takes over the engraving or formation of his own character. Clearly, though, with their learning demands and taxing events, children's school years are a prime opportunity for positive and negative i. The impetus and energy behind the return of character education to American schools did not come from within the educational community.
It has been fueled, first, by parental desire for orderly schools where standards of behavior and good habits are stressed, and, second, by state and national politicians who responded to these anxious concerns of parents. During his presidency, William Clinton hosted five conferences on character education. President George W. Bush expanded on the programs of the previous administration and made character education a major focus of his educational reform agenda.
One of the politically appealing aspects of character education, as opposed to moral education with its religious overtones, is that character education speaks more to the formation of a good citizen. A widely repeated definition i. For some people the internal focus of character education comfortably can be both religious and civic and for others the focus can be strictly civic, dealing exclusively on the formation of the good citizen.
The overwhelming percentage of efforts within public education to address the moral domain currently march under the flag of character education. Further, since these conscious efforts at addressing issues of character formation are relatively recent, they are often called character education programs. The term program suggests, however, discrete initiatives that replace an activity or that are added to the school's curriculum e.