What role does education play in forming, or at least in reinforcing, our moral values? What role should it play? Gale suggested we talk about this, and I want to start the meeting by asking you all which moral values you think your teachers tried to instill in you. From there, we can discuss this subject further, maybe with the help of the articles below. Googling around this week, I got a sense of just how complicated – and controversial – the idea of teaching moral character has been and continues to be.
Discussion Questions –
- What moral values do you think YOU were taught in school? Were these lessons taught explicitly or implicitly; i.e., were your teachers trying to teach values or were they just imparting them in the natural course of teaching?
- Is there even such a thing as a values-free education? If not, how should educators determine which moral values to teach? Who gets to decide?
- What about the problem of church-state separation? Are there moral values distinct from religious ones? If so, what are they and how can they be taught?
- Conservatives constantly bemoan the lack of moral instruction in schools. What do they mean, and what do they want schools to teach?
- Some schools nowadays teach “character education.” What is it and what do you think of it?
- The simple ideas, summarized here, in “everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten” matter here because supposedly we all learn our moral values very, very early in life.
- What about teaching values useful for citizenship; those that “are consistent with the values of democracy?” Recommended.
- Or, teaching humanist moral values?
- Or, teaching moral “character?” This is a big thing now. The six elements of a character education, allegedly. Recommended.
- The religious Right hates the (lack of, in their view) moral education in public schools.
- Optional Long Read: Detailed treatment of this subject, including history of morality teaching in U.S. schools.
NEXT WEEK: Why does U.S. poverty levels keep rising?