————————————————- Moral education Categories Concepts Subjects People Essays Reviews Commons Courses Help| Pathways Concepts Subjects People Essays Reviews Commons Courses Help| Key tabs| article tab edit tab move tab| study tab history tab watch tab| From A Cyclopedia of Education, edited by Paul Monroe, Ph. D. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1911, vol. IV, pp. 306-314). Moral education * Ernest N. Henderson (Ph. D. , Professor of Philosophy and Education, Adelphi College) The problem of moral education in the schools is very complicated.
First of all, the present status of the teaching of morals is the result of a long and varied history, the phases of which are reflected in many of the problems of to-day.
Again, the nature of the moral sense, and the relation of morality to the general aim of education are both matters upon which a variety of opinions are held. These different views have given us antithetic practices, and to-day the educational world cannot be said to show any marked agreement as to the general place of morality in the educational scheme, the method of moral culture, or the subject matter of moral instruction.
An exposition of the situation at present in regard to moral education requires as an introduction a consideration both of the main trend in the history of moral culture and of the various philosophical and psychological theories concerning the development of the moral sense. Four historic movements in regard to moral culture The history of moral culture presents among others four issues which are to-day especially fruitful of difficulties to the school that engages in this task.
These issues concern (1) the progress from customary to reflective morality, (2) the association of morality with religion, (3) the evolution of academic from utilitarian morality, (4) the variety in moral standards among different peoples and in different ages. (1) In primitive society morality is wholly a matter of custom. Indeed, the word “morality” is derived from mores, or customs. These mores controlled the moral sense of early man. Even to-day they are, perhaps, the dominant factor in the moral life.
Whatever is in the mores, the sociologist Sumner declares, is felt to be right. These customs constitute the social adaptations that society has established as a result of blind and uncomprehended experimentation. However, with the progress of time men get a wider outlook, which reveals to them the mechanical foundations of much that had seemed like the sacred utterance of an inner voice. Some mores come in conflict with others as people migrate and get into contact with strangers.
Other mores are outgrown, and history preserves for our amazed study the intense moral allegiance of our forefathers to practices toward which we feel only indifference or contempt. Thus man advances toward an age in which morality is no longer merely a matter of the mores, but seeks a rational foundation in some universal laws of social and individual life. Morality tends to become reflective by yet another process. The mores find substantial help in such specific instruction as can be added to supplement the cultural effect of imitation. This instruction tends to become generalized in rules of practice.
These are at first mere summations of existing mores, but with the progress of time they come to include reasons and to strive to reconcile inconsistencies that are laid bare as various principles are drawn into a system. Thus instruction in morality constantly tends to make it reflective, critical. But the tendency to make morality reflective weakens the implicit faith in the mores. What is consecrated by habit and feeling is desecrated by reason. Habituation in the mores, which we may call moral training, and reflective criticism of them, which is almost a necessary implication of moral instruction, do not always support each other.
In this emergency we find a gradual differentiation of two parties. One consists of those who reverence the mores and would limit moral culture to habituation in them, possibly supplementing this by such dogmatic instruction as can be made to strengthen their grip on conduct. The other comprises those who would make all morality of the reflective critical type. Such was the view of Socrates and of Plato in his earlier years. Their notion that virtue is knowledge, and can be taught, may be regarded as essentially an abandonment of the mores in favor of a reasoned course of conduct.
There is yet a third party, in which we may group those who hold, as did St. Paul, that we may know the better, yet do the worse. On this view, while morality should be based on reflection, it must be ingrained in character before it becomes effective. This result can be reached only by habituation, by will. Thus moral training is again invoked, not as the basis of the moral life, but as the only agency by which the dictates of reason and conscience can be put into practice. It is evident that these various points of view are implicated in the attitudes taken to-day toward moral instruction in the schools.
Those who feel that morality is a matter of the mores, if they want moral culture in the schools, have in mind, as the substance of this, habituating training plus a little instruction preceptive in character. Some, however, think that this dogmatic instruction will take the spirit out of the habits that it is designed to aid. They hold that moral culture should be indirect; that we get it best by growing into it, rather than by having it preached to us; that to state in rules the principles that should constantly be exemplified in habits is to deal in platitudes.
There is life in such precepts when we live them, not when we merely talk about them. On the other hand, those who would found morality on reflection may hold that it is beyond the reach of children, and so exclude it from the studies of the elementary schools; or if they have a more favorable notion of the capacity of the child, they may wish the classes seriously to discuss the vital problems that constitute mooted issues in the life of the day.
It is evident that instruction in morals does not go far before it reaches the plane of reflective morality, and that this is critical, interested only in that which is not yet a matter of habit or in that habit which is questionable. It tends to disintegrate and to reconstruct the mores. Otherwise it has little ground for being. (2) The association of religion with morals is very largely responsible for the situation to-day in reference to moral instruction. In the very beginning of conscious endeavors to supplement the mores by direct teaching, religion played a prominent part.
The customs that society was most anxious to emphasize involved as a rule individual self-restraint, often individual sacrifice for community welfare. In making a conscious appeal on behalf of such mores the belief in the supernatural was of the greatest help. Instruction appeals here, as always, to the reason, but to a reason uncritical of the products of its imagination. In religion instruction found something new and fresh that could be used to reenforce the mores rather than to cause one to grow weary or skeptical of them. Moral instruction in the guise of religion can interest and inspire.
The mind is lured away from the commonplaces of everyday life and invited to speculate about the rewards and punishments of the invisible powers that preside over the destiny of man. The glory and the terror of such unexplored experiences are a never failing stimulus to the imagination. In modern times the struggle over freedom in religious matters has resulted in the removal of much or all religious instruction from the national schools in democratic communities (seeReligious education). The historic association of moral and religious instruction has caused the latter to carry the former with it out of the curriculum.
France after the Revolution and the United States illustrate this tendency best among the larger states. In many cases such religious organizations as possessed a more or less adequate system of schools under their own control resisted the development of the national schools, holding them to be Godless institutions, calculated to sharpen the wits rather than to cultivate the conscience. It has even been urged that nonsectarian education produces crime, and in proof thereof shown that the amount of crime as indicated by the statistics increased with the development of state schools.
A more careful examination of the data made clear, however, that the apparent increase of crime was due to the addition of new causes of arrest, such as drunkenness, or to the more accurate keeping of records of arrests, or to the greater vigilance of the officers of the law. In point of fact, the data seem to indicate that education, even though it does not include specific moral instruction, tends to reduce crime by increasing efficiency, and so diminishing in a measure the incentive to crime. However this may be, there has seemed much reason to deplore the lack of more positive instruction in morals in the schools.
In order to make up this deficiency and yet keep out instruction specifically religious, efforts have been made to develop a system of morals not based on religion. Here some have dissented and maintained the inseparability of the two. Especially in England this view has found many supporters. Since the public elementary system there was until 1870 entirely in the hands of the voluntary associations of either the Church of England or Dissenting Denominations, religion has had in them a prominent place.
When schools were later established independently by the public authorities, a little undenominational religious instruction was given in them, and moral teaching was connected with it. In France, where, perhaps, religion has been more completely excluded from state schools than in any other European country, we have the most definite attempt to develop moral instruction independently. The law of 1882 required a certain amount of moral and civic instruction. At the same time, one day a week in addition to Sunday was allowed the children that the parents might, if they would, provide religious instruction outside the schoolhouse.
In Germany religious instruction is regularly given in the state schools by or under the supervision of the pastors of the various churches in the localities. To-day not only Catholics and Protestants, but also Hebrews, have a chance to determine this religious instruction. Moral instruction is closely connected with the religious teaching. The German plan prevails, in general, in Switzerland. In European countries where one denomination is not only the state religion, but is also in control of the situation, the religious and moral instruction in the school centers about the ideas and practices of hat denomination. Thus, so far as the connection between religion and morality is concerned, we have five types of schools, as follows: (1) Those schools in which there is neither specific religious instruction nor set lessons in morals. Such are most of the public schools in the United States and many of the private schools as well. However, almost, if not quite, invariably the public school regulations in the various states enjoin the teachers to provide incidental moral instruction as well as to care constantly for moral training. 2) Those schools that provide no religious instruction, but have developed a special course of study in morals and civics. This type is illustrated in the state schools of France, where, although a general recognition of a Deity is approved, very little, if any, religious instruction is given. (3) Those schools in which undenominational religious instruction has been made a feature of school work, and the moral instruction associated therewith. This method may be said to be that aimed at in the English elementary schools established by the public authorities.
The parents may, if they wish, withdraw the children from the periods devoted to religious instruction. (4) Those schools in which religious and at least partially denominational instruction is given under the control of the various denominations in the locality. Here moral teaching springs out of the religious teaching. This system is illustrated in Germany and Switzerland. (5) Those schools in which religious instruction according to one faith is given, and moral instruction made largely dependent thereon.
Such a system prevails in the state schools where one faith, as the Roman Catholic or the Lutheran, is in control, or in the schools maintained by the various denominations. In general, it may be said that moral instruction receives most attention where there is enough religious study to give it large foundations and emphatic attention, as in the denominational schools of the fifth type, or where it is developed independently of religion, as in the schools of the second type.
The attempt to make moral instruction dependent upon undenominational religious instruction, or upon such denominational instruction as may be given by officials not in the regular teaching force, or in periods sharply separated from the rest of the program, does not yield vital results, inasmuch as a broad enough religious basis cannot thus be given to interpenetrate very thoroughly the moral life. In consequence, those who hold that moral instruction should be founded on eligion are likely to advocate much more religious teaching in the secular schools, or to propose to base moral instruction largely, if not wholly, on religious agencies outside of the school. (3) The historic movement from utilitarian to academic morality has been a factor in determining the present nature of the problem of moral education. When men began first to reflect upon the reasons for the prevailing mores, they searched for utilitarian ones. The customs must be upheld, they thought, because only thus can the prosperity of the individual be assured.
This springs from the fact that the mores are founded either upon natural law or, as is usually the conception, upon the supposed will of the supernatural powers. Especially such practices as may make for the welfare of society rather than for that of the individual are found to take refuge behind the theory of authorization by a divinity. When, however, long experience reveals no demonstrable connection between self-sacrificing obedience to divine law and personal prosperity as an ultimate reward for such service, men seek another justification for it.
They rise from the notion of prudential morality to the Stoic conception of “right for right’s sake. ” They find in conscience the only guide, and regard the conduct that has for its motive hope or fear of consequences as not genuinely moral. If they associate happiness at all with moral conduct, it must spring from the consciousness of duty done rather than from the worldly success thereby achieved. However, when men reflect further, they may conclude that after all the happiness of the individual is the only justifiable end of moral conduct, that morality is merely the highest sort of prudence.
The utilitarian finds his explanation of the altruistic conduct of man in his social nature, which cannot be happy when surrounded by unhappy companions. He would, therefore, make moral education consist largely in the study of consequences and such culture of habits and will as enables one to carry into practice the bidding of the knowledge thus acquired. Here we have the conception of moral culture entertained by Rousseau and Herbert Spencer. The child is to be subjected to the discipline of natural consequences.
Opposed to the utilitarians are the rigorists like Kant, who maintain that morality is a matter of obedience to absolute law and cannot be based on the calculation of consequences. Hence, in their view, moral culture consists not in any revelation of relations between cause and effect to be derived from experience, but rather in rousing to free utterance an inner voice. On the question of the nature of this inner insight we have the rationalism of Kant opposed to intuitionism.
Kant founds morality on reason, — not empirical reason, which investigates consequences, but pure reason, which reveals the right in itself. Such rightness, he holds, consists in conformity to the absolute moral law, the universal categorical imperative. One may act rightly and yet apparently bring disaster to himself and others. True moral culture consists, therefore, in endeavoring to rouse the attitude of good will which considers only the form of the act, and is careless of consequences.
The intuitionists hold that the awareness of the right is not even reasoned out, but is a matter of direct perception. To teach morality becomes, on their view, analogous to teaching one to use his eyes. We do not learn a moral law and then apply it, as Kant supposes, but we simply look steadily at what we think of doing, and its rightness or wrongness becomes immediately apparent. (4) Finally, among the historic facts that have entered in to determine the character of the problem of moral instruction to-day is that of change and variety in the moral codes.
The notion that in morality we have something which differs from religion in that there is universal agreement as to its nature and rules is evidently erroneous. Historically the views of mankind in regard to the rightness of acts have changed quite as much as their notions of religion. For example, infanticide and cannibalism and harlotry have been held to be sacred when properly carried on. To-day the common judgment of the enlightened seems to be united in abhorrence of them.
Yet many among the so-called enlightened feel no horror at some sorts of infanticide or of sexual intercourse not recognized by law; indeed, they justify them. And while the exceptions to those who to-day concur in regard to these fundamental matters are, perhaps, few, the unanimity in regard to just what is permitted in the matter of the relations of the sexes, just what is involved in veracity or business honesty or intemperance or in proper service to the state or proper regard for parents, for servants, or for charity is certainly very scant.
If the school is to keep to the universally recognized in morality, it seems to be confronted with the necessity of dealing only in generalities and platitudes. Among the special bits of ethical instruction to be found in textbooks widely used in the French schools is this in regard to the attitude of children toward parents: “Do not be familiar with them as you are with your companions. ” The interpretation of this principle by different households, and especially in America, would evidently vary greatly. Various views on the psychology of the moral sense
The problem of moral culture to-day is further complicated by conflicting views as to the psychology of the moral sense. Fundamental among the issues involved here is that between those who regard moral development as essentially a negative, inhibitive process and those who hold that it is at bottom positive, constructive. According to the first party moral education is a purging away of original sin, a purification of the spirit from the taint of flesh, a war against selfishness, or a curbing of the brute that we inherit in the interest of the higher civilization of to-day.
This control of our baser nature may be conceived to be dependent upon the influence of the rewards and punishments established by the temporal and the spiritual rulers who determine our fortunes here and hereafter, or upon the wisdom that has come to perceive the penalties that nature visits upon those who permit their appetites and passions to control them, or, finally, upon the birth of an inner conscience, a spiritual quality, — the product, perhaps, of Divine Grace, by virtue of which one comes to despise his inferior self.
In any event, the function of the teacher is held to consist in the task of getting the lower nature under control. He is a lawgiver, threatening and punishing, a prudent adviser, pointing out the folly of evil ways, or a preacher, shaming the self-indulgent, the dishonest, and the base by exhibiting their shortcomings to themselves and to others. The advocates of the constructive ideal of moral culture maintain that all, or at any rate most, of the human desires have a function, that the task of self-control is not so much that of suppressing the evil as it is that of encouraging the good.
Among the extreme advocates of this view is Rousseau, who held that man is born good and corrupted by education. Hence, with him the ideal education is to let the child alone, for in its natural development will be found the best culture. The more moderate conception is that, while the natural child or man is by no means morally perfect, yet he does have in him the qualities the right development and harmonization of which will make of him an ideal individual.
Moral culture should, therefore, aim, not at suppression, but at an harmonious development of all the powers, at self-realization. In addition to their view that all, or nearly all, the human instincts have a place in the properly trained man, the advocates of the constructive sort of moral culture hold that the control or the suppression of the undesirable can take place only by substituting something better. This substitute can, they think, be found only in the nature of the child.
The negative discipline is, therefore, held to be faulty in that, in aiming merely to suppress the undesirable, it leaves to chance or to the undirected impulse of the child the selection of a substitute interest by the ascendency of which alone control of the objectionable quality is made possible. Inhibitive education at best merely gets rid of an evil without assuring itself that something better takes its place. A second issue in regard to the psychology of the moral sense is that between those who emphasize freedom and those who hold that cultural influences are essential to morality.
The idea of transcendental freedom, advocated by the followers of Kant, led them to minimize the importance of circumstances in the development of morality. Kant’s notion was that the one absolutely independent thing about the individual is the moral will. To make it depend upon educative influences seemed to be to take from it its unconditioned character. Herbart, on the contrary, held that from the point of view of the concrete problems of education transcendental freedom is a myth.
All education, he asserted, aims at moral character, and to maintain that culture has no reference to the moral will is to deny that the teacher and the school have any serious value. Education, he claimed, should not passively wait for the moral nature to assert itself, but should continually endeavor by the presentation of appropriate experience, which he characterized as an “? sthetic presentation of the world,” to stir up many-sided interest and to cultivate that union of judgment with desire which insures a comprehensive, just, and steady will. Both Herbart and Kant agree that morality is a matter of inner insight.
To get this, one must have that in his nature which responds to and evaluates the moral situation. Kant, however, does not think that this moral judgment is a posteriori, or derived from experience, but rather a priori. Experience is moral because we make it so by judging it, and the judgment of conscience is not a result of instruction. Herbart, on the other hand, declares that it is to be evoked only by the continued presentation of phases of experience in reference to which it can express itself. The child becomes moral by constantly beholding and reacting to moral activity in others.
In more recent years this inner response to moral situations which Herbart held to result from familiarity with them has been traced to the ripening of certain instincts. The keener conscience of the older child is thus attributed not to his experience, but to his maturity. As to the character of the instincts that lie back of moral character, there is a difference of opinion. One school revives the conception of Rousseau, who held that up to adolescence the child is purely self-regarding and should be disciplined only through an appeal to his experience of the pleasant and unpleasant consequences of his acts.
In the instincts of puberty, the interest in the opposite sex and later in one’s children, he found desires that tend to break down the self-centered life and to create broader sympathy and an altruistic moral sense. President G. Stanley Hall agrees with Rousseau in emphasizing adolescence and the parental instincts. According to him the life of ideals is born and reaches its climax in the “storm and stress” of youth. Kirkpatrick in his Fundamentals of Child Study includes among the instincts that have a bearing upon moral development not only the parental, but also the social and regulative instincts.
Under the social instinct he ranges fondness for society, love of approbation, sympathy, and altruism. Under the regulative instinct he places the moral instinct proper and the religious instinct. The former he reduces to the tendencies toward self-control and toward evaluating conduct and developing ideals. Altruism, the genuine religious attitude, and the sense of independence and responsibility, he regards as not much in evidence before adolescence. The period before adolescence in his view is, therefore, merely preparatory so far as morality is concerned.
The experience, the habits, and the knowledge of objective values to be gained in this preparatory period are, however, regarded by him as of the highest importance. Morality and the aim of education An important phase of the theory of moral culture is concerned in the relation of morality to the total aim of education. Liberal education has from time immemorial occupied itself with ethical culture, especially its civic and social phases. But the development of leisure led to phases of culture calculated to minister rather to individual gratification than to social service.
In consequence, liberal education came to aim at knowledge and beauty as well as at strictly ethical qualities. Later, the development of unworldly religions with the attendant emphasis on the spiritual life as compared to the life of sense, led to the elevation of the religious above the moral aim of education. Still later, the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century found in personality its supreme concept. The struggle for the rights of the individual, for freedom, for self-realization, displayed itself in all phases of human life, — political, social, economic, artistic, and educational.
In education the ruling notion of self-realization tended to draw all liberal culture into a unity. The religious, the scientific, the social, and the ? sthetic interests were held to be mutually dependent phases of a developing personality. The goal of such development Herbart found in moral character, which to him meant volition controlled by the broadest insight into and sympathy with the various interests of men. In his system, therefore, morality is so broadly interpreted as to be restored to its ancient position as the sole aim of liberal culture.
The Herbartians regarded history, or the account of the human will in action, as the fundamental subject for the development of moral character. With it was closely associated literature. Science and mathematics and, indeed, all the subjects of the liberal curriculum were held to have an ethical bearing, and to justify their place therein because of this fact. Moral instruction, therefore, comes to consist not in certain rules of conduct taught in connection with religion or separated from the rest of the course of study, but in all the studies of the school.
It is their essence. Similarly, moral training was regarded as the whole of the discipline of the school. The Herbartian conception united in the notion of moral culture all the various historic aims of liberal education. However, it held to aristocratic traditions in excluding the vocation from the liberal ideal. Thus vocational instruction was not regarded by Herbart as an essential phase of moral culture. The democratic and industrial movements of the nineteenth century have brought preparation for the calling forward as an indispensable factor in education.
Those who agree with Herbart in regarding vocational education as not aiming at moral character, and at the same time sympathize with the modern demand for training to make a livelihood, are compelled to enlarge his statement of the educational ideal. The expression, efficiency, or in Spencer’s phrase “preparation for complete living,” has been the most generally current symbol for the aim of education. The extent to which human efficiency is a matter of social adaptation has led this ideal to be characterized as social efficiency. Put in this form, it is capable of a moral interpretation.
If morality is character in action in a social environment, then social efficiency must be held to be an essentially moral aim. Indeed, Professor Dewey, in finding moral education to consist in making instruction live in the activities of the child, has defined it broadly enough to make it include all sound education. Culture that is the union of thought and action in a social world which reproduces the essential problems of human life and gradually approximates to the social environment of the adult is evidently both moral and vocational.
Just as Herbart enlarged the notion of moral character to include all the products of liberal education, so our modern democratic education would seem to be widening it to embrace the vocational efficiency so much demanded to-day. Present agitation in regard to moral education The issue of moral education is to-day rapidly forging to the front as one of the leading problems of the school. In France since 1882 specific moral instruction has taken a place in the curriculum.
It must be said, however, that this has not always seemed either to French or to foreign observers entirely satisfactory. Especially has it been attacked by the clergy. Since the suppression of the religious associations and the consequent disappearance of nearly all the Catholic schools, the question of the adequacy of the moral instruction received by the French children has been very much in the foreground. In England the issue of moral instruction has also become prominent, stirred up especially by the struggle over denominational control in elementary education.
A commission on moral instruction and training, self-constituted, but containing many of the leaders in education, published in 1908 and 1909 an extensive and valuable report on conditions and opinions in reference to this matter in many countries. In the United States for many years the need of more attention to moral education has been discussed. In the convention of the National Educational Association held in Los Angeles, Cal. , in 1907 a resolution was assed to the effect that “It is the duty of the teachers to enter at once upon a systematic course of instruction, which shall embrace not only a broader patriotism, but a more extended course of moral instruction, especially in regard to the rights and duties of citizenship, the right of property, and the security and sacredness of human life. ” A committee was appointed which made in 1908 and again in 1909 reports on various aspects of moral culture. At the latter meeting certain papers recommended special instruction in morals as part of the curriculum.
The idea that this should take the form, not of dogmatic precepts, but of a rational attack on living issues with the aim of developing conscience through reflection was put forth. Experimental efforts in this direction have been made, as, for example, in the course designed by Professor Sharp of the University of Wisconsin, and tried in some of the high schools of that state, in the illustrated lessons prepared by the National Institution for Moral Instruction, through its secretary, Milton Fairchild, and in courses given in progressive schools, especially the Ethical Culture School in New York City.
The Ethical Culture School (q. v. ) owes its origin principally to the efforts of Professor Felix Adler, to whom is to be credited one of the earliest positive attempts to introduce the specifically moral element into American education. This movement led to the formation of a number of Ethical Culture Societies. Among the most influential agencies at present engaged in the movement for moral education in the United States is the Religious Education Association, a voluntary society founded in 1903.
This organization held at Providence, R. I. , in February, 1911, a convention especially devoted to the subject of moral education, and in its Journal for that date it gives one of the most comprehensive summaries of the conditions in the United States in regard to moral education that we possess. It reveals great diversity of opinion, but so far as practice is concerned the prevailing custom is to trust to other agencies than specific courses in morals.
State laws or courses of study often emphasize the need of moral instruction, but they do not, as a rule, make such definite provision for it as to insure that the schools should give to it an assigned amount of time and attempt to cover a certain clearly defined field. Here and there where in counties, in cities, or in individual schools the personal supervision of one superintendent makes possible unity of conception and practice, there have been worked out fairly definite schemes of moral instruction.
Legislation has, in general, laid stress upon instruction in the duties of citizenship, on the bad effects of alcohol and narcotics, and occasionally on the humane treatment of animals. (See Humane education. ) It has required teachers to be of good moral character, and provided for the punishment of both teachers and pupils for immoral conduct. It is very rare, however, for licenses to be withdrawn for this cause. As for the preparation of teachers for giving moral instruction, the curricula of colleges and of normal schools provide, aside from a course in ethics, very little that has much bearing thereon.
Various views as to what should be done in regard to moral education When we come to the problem of providing adequate moral culture in the future, we find that the complexity of the factors involved results in a corresponding variety of opinions and suggestions. Five main opinions may be distinguished, although each of these may be subdivided according to particular views on minor points. (1) A very considerable number hold that moral education requires no addition to the agencies at present at work in the schools.
The chief forces in moral culture are, on this view, the personality of the teacher, the discipline of the school, the moral insights and ideals to be derived from the ordinary studies, incidental instruction in moral notions and practices by the teacher and by occasional speakers from outside the school, and intercourse of the children with each other on the playground and in school organizations. Of all these forces the personality of the teacher is usually held to be the most important.
If it be of the right sort, it is trusted to inspire the pupils and to be a constant model for imitation that goes on in the main unconsciously. In this agency alone, many believe, lies the solution of the entire problem of moral culture, for, in the last analysis, character can be understood only in terms of the experience that comes from actual contact with it and practice in its ways. Moreover, the discipline of the school, the efficiency of which is so important an element in moral culture, depends upon the personality of the teacher.
The sympathy and the justice, the patience and the firmness, the refinement and the strength, the ideals and the common sense of this individual find their expression in the rules of conduct of the school, and especially in the spirit in which they are enforced. Thus through the habituating effects of his steady supervision the momentary inspirations of the child are converted into the traits of a character. The Herbartians value highly this personal contact, but especially do they emphasize the moral value of the course of study.
The importance of each subject is, they hold, in proportion to its reaction on character. This principle determines the selection and arrangement of the curriculum. History and literature show character in action, and thus create ideals and standards, i. e. moral intelligence. Other subjects are made contributory to these, completing the circle of thought and perfecting the sympathy and the judgment. While the Herbartians emphasized the moral value of the content of the studies, the Disciplinarians lay all stress on their form.
In the preeminently formal work of the languages and of mathematics they find a discipline of the will to attentiveness, persistence, accuracy, love of truth, etc. When we add to these agencies for moral instruction the life on the playground and in the school societies, we are able, in the opinion of many, to cultivate adequately the additional virtues of courage, tact, self-control, regard for the rights of others, and sense of obligation for public service.
Finally, unusual occasions in the life of the school, such as the celebration of an anniversary, the advent of a stranger who will address the pupils, or some crisis demanding an appeal to the spirit of the general body, for example, athletic contests or a reform in bad practices, such as cheating in examinations, — all these afford constant opportunity to promote and to revive healthy moral life. Those who hold the present agencies to be adequate for moral culture may, and often do, feel a need for greater efficiency in regard to some or all of them.
They frequently urge the need of better selection of teachers from the point of view of personal influence, of discipline that will be more effective in developing moral strength, of more careful selection of history and literature with a view to the ethical effect thereof, of such methods of instruction as will more successfully bring out ethical ideas, of more sympathy on the part of the teachers with the play of the child or with his social life and home conditions, of more careful supervision of such of these interests as can be influenced by the school, or of more frequent departures from the routine of the school work in order to introduce an exercise having ethical significance. The study of physiology and hygiene should, many think, include instruction not only in the effects of alcohol and tobacco, but also in matters pertaining to sex. Similarly, the work in history and civics should include more attention than is commonly given to the obligations of the individual in regard to public service. All these reforms involve no radical transformation of the school as at present organized. (2) A second party consists of those who hold that the key to effective moral instruction is to be found only in religion.
They would, therefore, either introduce more religion into the schools or look for the needed betterment of moral education largely to independent religious agencies, which they would develop to greater efficiency in this field. The various solutions of the problem of the relation of moral and religious instruction have already been dealt with. In general, it may be said that, although the present movement in favor of more moral education has been greatly promoted by those interested primarily in the religious life, still comparatively few look for reform through an increase in the amount of religious instruction in the schools. (SeeReligious education. (3) A very considerable number hold that what we need is not more or different moral instruction, but rather the development of new and more effective agencies for moral training. Two plans are advocated, each of which has been experimented with. The one strives to develop the idea of student self-government (g. v. ) so as to awaken in the child as soon as possible the sense of responsibility under the stimulus of sharing in the work of making and administering law. The George Junior Republic (g. v. ) is, perhaps, as complete an illustration of this conception as we have. Although designed primarily for wayward youth living and working together in a small community, it embodies ideas of self-government that many think should be far more completely realized in every school than they are at present.
By such methods it may be possible not only to turn the discipline of the school over largely to the pupils themselves, but even to give them considerable initiative and control in reference to their studies and occupations. The second plan addresses itself to a far more systematic organization of the games and recreations of the young. Children, it is thought, may, and should, be taught to play as well as to work, and through this agency the needed supplement to their present social and ethical training is conceived to be obtainable, for it is in the amusements rather than in the work that ethical degeneration is most to be feared and ethical advance most to be hoped for. Hence playgrounds and recreation centers with competent supervision are advocated for the cities.
It is urged that the school should become the leading social center for the community, fostering athletic sports, literary, musical, scientific, and social entertainments, and in numberless ways contributing to the healthy interest of children and even of adults in a common life of voluntary yet incalculably beneficial diversion. Both self-government and play have from time immemorial been to some extent utilized as educational forces in the great English Public schools, and there their value has been convincingly demonstrated. However, it is felt by many English observers that this Public School life with all its excellent features is too much a life by itself, interested too exclusively in its own affairs to constitute the best sort of a preparation for active participation in the social life of the outer world.
This defect is one likely to be found in boarding school training everywhere, and it is undoubtedly desirable that the school in developing its own community life should keep in close contact with the family, the economic, the social, and the political interests of the wider public. (See Athletics, educational; Public schools, Englsih | Public schools]]. ) (4) Of all the present-day advocates of radical changes in regard to provision for moral education, those who believe in direct and regular instruction in morals make up the most distinct and, perhaps, the most numerous group. They may be divided into two classes. First, we have those who hold that a graded course in morals should run through the school, beginning in the primary department. They insist that such work can be made intelligible, interesting, and practically effective, that it need not be mere preaching, nor be dogmatic, nor productive of priggishness.
Second, there are many who regard routine teaching of ordinary preceptive morality as, perhaps, unnecessary and a rather dry formalism at best, but who hold that the older children, especially those of high school grade, should take up the rational discussion of concrete ethical issues such as are creating the difficult problems in the life of the day. School instruction in morality is thus made rational rather than dogmatic and should, therefore, be for the most part postponed until ability to reflect becomes prominent in the child. (5) Finally, we have many who believe that the failure of our schools in teaching morality is due not to the absence of direct moral instruction, but rather to the divorce between instruction and practice that is found to such an extent in school work.
A school that constitutes a genuine life, that teaches through the solution of actual problems that confront the school society will, they think, have no need of special agencies to instruct in duty or responsibility or to train in right habits. The moral sense is born in the practical emergencies of life, and by confronting a child with these we may easily develop that sort of feeling, thinking, and acting which belongs to a strong and efficient character. We need not so much to expand the curriculum in order to include morality, as to reorganize it and the method of teaching it so as to make it stand for an inevitable progress of the child into the problems and the ideals of the social life of the time. E. N. H. See Character; Ethics and education; Religious education. References * Adler. F.
Moral Instruction of Children. (New York. 1898. ) * Dewey, J. Ethical Principles underlying Education. (Chicago. 1897. ) — Moral Principles in Education. (Boston, 1909. ) * McCunn, J. The Making of Character. (New York, 1900. ) * Palmer, G. H. Ethical and Moral Instruction in Schools. (Boston, 1909. ) * Religious Education Association. Education and National Character. * Sadler, M. E. Moral Instruction arul Training in Schools. (London, 1908. ) * Spiller, G. Report on Moral Instruction and on Moral Training. Bibliography. (London. 1909. ) * Spiller, G. , ed. Papers on Moral Education: International Moral Education Congress. (London, 1909. ) Category: Concepts
Cite this Moral Education
Moral Education. (2018, May 18). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/moral-education-essay/