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Good Teaching Includes Moral Instruction

February 13, 2010

Good teachers include moral instruction within the curriculum.  Lawrence Kohlberg quotes John Dewey, “I believe that the moral education centers upon this conception of the school as a mode of social life, that the best and deepest moral training is precisely that which one gets through having to enter into proper relations with others in authority of work and thought. (Power, Higgins, & Kohlberg, 1989)  For teachers, including moral instruction within the curriculum, promoting discussion of consensual decision making, personal excellence, honesty, integrity, etc, adds another “teachable moment” beyond just the subject matter.  Constructivists assert that knowledge is actively received.  Therefore, if we expect our students to exhibit moral and honest behavior, we must teach it and be living examples of it.  Without morals, our classrooms, schools, and communities cannot operate.

In the absence of morals, our social fabric unravels, exposing us to destructive behaviors that put our society at risk.  The role of education, therefore, is to model ethical and moral values that most closely identify with academic achievement: honesty and integrity foremost among them.  Without honest behavior we implicitly allow deceit and theft.  If we lack integrity, we have no courage of our convictions and are void of sound moral character.  Our experience in school should incorporate the morals we practice in our daily lives.  “Socrates (468 – 399 B.C.) stressed the ethical principle that a person should strive for moral excellence, live wisely, and act rationally.” (Ornstein & Levine, 2008)   In our classrooms, teachers should expect their students to be honest and act with integrity.  Students, in turn, should expect this from their educators.  Teachers too should expect this from their cohorts and school leaders.  Without moral practices from teacher and student, genuine academic achievement cannot occur. Russell Kirk states, “….Boys and girls will model themselves, if they can, upon exemplars.” (Kirk)  It is in moral acts that our social fabric is woven and therefore, with moral behavior, can come academic achievement.  Honesty leads to trust and trust leads to more open discussion and sincere examination of our problems and our successes. Moral instruction and active illustration of this behavior really is the key.

Works Cited

Kirk, R. (n.d.). Can Virtue Be Taught Retreived February 9, 2010 from SPU EDU 6526 Blackboard site.

Ornstein, A. C., & Levine, D. U. (2008). Foundations of Education. Boston: Wadsworth.

Power, F. C., Higgins, A., & Kohlberg, L. (1989). Lawrence Kohlberg’s Approach to Moral Education. New York: Columbia University Press.

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