Teaching Moral Values in Schools
Pornography! Premarital sex! Lying! Cheating! Drugs! Shoplifting! Stealing! High school pregnancies! What is wrong with all these things? Based on the values that are being taught in most schools to today’s children, nothing. Many teachers believe that students involved in these activities are just making bad choices out of the many choices they have. How can children know that George Washington was the father of their country but cannot tell the difference between right and wrong? A large percentage of schools used to teach about values such as integrity, respect of others, honesty, obedience, and responsibility. Today many teachers teach that anything that is considered acceptable is all right. They believe that in order to make moral choices, the children do not need values. But, what are moral values? Webster defines moral as: “Relating to, dealing with, or capable of making the distinction between right or wrong conduct… something (as a principle or quality) intrinsically desirable… having to do with right and wrong in conduct” (Merriam-Webster [MW], 2006, para. 1). And, it defines values as: “The social principles, goals or standards held accepted by an individual, a class, a society, etc.”(MW, 2006, para. 1). It seems fair to boil the definition of moral values down to: beliefs and personal opinions about what is right (honesty, ethics, truth) conduct, and what is wrong (dishonesty, falsity, harmful) conduct held by individuals and held collectively by socially cohesive groups of individuals. Teaching moral (or character) values to children in school, from an early age, will enable them to achieve greater success in all areas of life. Teaching Moral Values in School
What would happen if these moral values were taught in the schools again? A school in California teaches good character (respect, honesty, compassion, responsibility, perseverance) during every activity at the school to over 600 students from pre-k to 6th graders. For example, if a student faces a difficult problem, the class may discuss perseverance. Before implementing these teachings over seven years ago, there were problems with fighting, discipline, and respect. Now the students are well-behaved and very respectful. Helping out has become second nature to the children also. For example, during lunch they offer to help the janitorial crew. This school teaches these character education classes because they know that if it is not taught at their school, certain values will go unlearned. As reported for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles, “In fact, the school has instilled character so successfully that the respected Character Education Partnership in Washington D.C. considers it a model” (“Schools teach”, 2001, para. 4). The reporter goes on to say, “In 2000, the University of South Carolina released a study of the state’s four-year character education initiative. Of the administrators it surveyed, 91 percent reported improvement in student attitudes and 60 percent reported that students’ academic performance improved” (“Schools teach”, 2001, para. 7). More schools in California are implementing their own character education programs because of the success of this school. For example, the Los Angeles Union School District has started character education classes in all its 75 schools. But, this school in California is not the only place teaching these values. There is also a school in Chicago that was having problems with student attitudes and behaviors. The school started a program called “Let’s Be Courteous, Let’s Be Caring” (Lickona, 1997, para. 2) which defines courteous (using manners, using good listening skills, waiting patiently, and being polite) and caring (sharing, following all the rules, being nice to others, working together as a team, and respecting the feelings of others) and helps students learn these standards in their behavior. The program also allows the students to become involved in working with...
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