Moral Education

Topics: Morality, Ethics, High school Pages: 19 (7502 words) Published: July 13, 2010
Moral education
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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...

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
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