Moral Development in Education

Topics: Kohlberg's stages of moral development, Jean Piaget, Morality Pages: 5 (1343 words) Published: August 20, 2013
It is widely accepted that educating and training students in moral competence is not just useful but obligatory in classroom practice. The fact that numerous moral topics and situations are constantly encountered in life gives rise to an essential need for educators to facilitate opportunities for moral learning and development. (Ludecke-Plumer, 2007) This can be accomplished by educating students on the different facets of life including ideals of justice and social expectation. (Henry, 2001)

Through the provision of a supportive environment that fosters opportunities to develop such learning, higher levels of moral competence may be achieved. Teaching and encouraging students to be more morally sensitive; encouraging reflection in individual beliefs and value systems; and giving a platform for students to participate in moral reasoning will assist students in developing this valuable ability to make moral judgments (Cam, Cavdar, Seydoogullari & Cok, 2012).

Lawrence Kohlberg's theory for moral development includes his ‘Just Community’ Model and the six stages of moral development, which can be effectively incorporated into classroom activities. This will have a great influence on shaping and guiding moral development as schools are important facilitators for the socialisation of children. (Temli Y, 1990)

Lawrence Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development
Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development postulates that all human beings, irrespective of culture or gender, progress through hierarchical stages of moral development. This approach evolved from the cognitive perspectives of developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget that moral development undergoes changes that occur throughout different levels and stages in a progressive fashion. Kohlberg’s theory was based on the assumption that all human beings had the cognitive ability to partake in moral reflection. Kohlberg deemed that the advance through the stages of moral development demonstrates higher cognitive ability for moral reasoning. Kohlberg explicitly modeled three levels of moral judgment, identifying two stages for each level. (Ludecke-Plumer, 2007)

Stages of Moral Development
Pre-conventional Level (Stage 1 and Stage 2)
The first level is the pre-conventional level and typifies a rather egocentric view of the world. The age group here is between 3 and 7 and is reflective of the cognitive abilities of such an age group with the prevalent concern of one’s own well-being to be the most important notion. Punishment and obedience directs the child’s decisions at this early stage. Actions are justified in accordance with these early cognitive understandings of ‘what may bring pleasure and avoid pain’ REFERENCE? (pg 106).Moving towards the second stage, the child becomes more aware of “the give-and-take” or reciprocity notion yet where self-gain and self-satisfaction remains a priority to determine the right course of action. (REF TEXTBOOK pg 209)

Conventional Level (Stage 3 and Stage 4)
As cognition develops within a child, they advance towards the next level of moral judgment, which is characterised by conformity (REFERENCE?TEXTBOOK). In the third stage, the individual comes to comprehend that good behaviour leads to appreciation and approval from the reference group within which the individual (REFERENCE TEXTBOOK). The essential principle in this stage is ‘Do as you would have done by’ and hence, the individual conforms to views of the reference group through group thinking (Lüdecke-Plümer, 2007). The fourth stage also occurs around preadolescence. Resposibility towards social order and law is seen as important and an obligation. Moral behaviour is determined by adhering and conforming to these social rules (REFERENCE TEXTBOOK).

Post-conventional Level (Stage 5 and Stage 6)
When the fifth stage is reached, reference groups or specific social systems are no longer at the fore. The individual recognises universal guidelines to make moral...

References: Cam, Z., Seydoogullari, S., Cavdar, D., & Cok, F. (2012). Classical and contemporary approaches for moral development. Educational Sciences: Theory And Practice, 12(2), 1222-1225.
Carpendale (2000), Kohlberg and Piaget on stages and moral reasoning, Development Review, 20(2), 181-205.
Crain, W.C. (1985). Theories of development. Prentiece-Hall
Duska, R. & Whelan, M. (1978). Moral development: A guide to Piaget and Kohlberg. New York: Paulist Press.
Henry, S. (2001). What happens when we use Kohlberg? His troubling functionalism and the potential of pragmatism in moral education. Educational Theory, 51(3), 259-276.
Krebs and Denton (2005). Toward a more pragmatic approach to aorality; A critical evaluation of Kohlbergs model. Psychological Review, 112 (3), 629-649
Ludecke-Plumer,S. (2007). Education in values and moral education in vocational colleges. European Journal of Vocational Training, 41(2), 103-115.
Schemrich, C.M. (2003). Applying principles of Kohlberg’s theory of moral development to classroom instruction, classroom discipline procedures, school-wide discipline procedures, district programs and community programs. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Akron, Retrieved from:
Tangen, D., Bland, D., Spooner-Lane, R., Sedgley, T., Mergler, A., Mercer, L., & Curtis, E. (2009). Engaging Diverse Learners 2nd ed. Pearson Education Australia.
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