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June 16, 2003
Recent University
Moral Education Abstratcs

By Amy Williams, Staff Writer & Howard Hobbs PhD

    FRESNO STATE - Throughout the history of American education there have appeared discerning movements which have redefined and redirected and in numerous ways made good our fundamental commitment to democracy. Originally, we separated the functions of church and state but permitted the formation of the free common school within which a major curricular interest was Protestant moral education for all students.
    But, as the nation grew more diverse in religious and ethnic back-ground the school experienced less opportunity to teach moral values. Eventually, following the elimination of the Protestant sectarian curricula of the public school, church organizations began to providefor moral values education within the private schools’ curriculum.
    Secularization of the public school did not lead to elimination of the need for moral values education programs in the public sector but gave rise to what is today recognized as a re-emphasis of the common values necessary for the society as a whole and in wholesome living. These common values include the concept of a public school as an institution serving the entire society and therefore in a logistically powerful role in teaching the knowledge, skills, understanding, reasoning, and attitudes which are the indispensible elements assuring the health and preservation of our democratic system of government.
    That educational purposes rest on moral values has been generally recognized in the public schools. The Educational Policies Commission has declared the development of moral values to be basic to all educational objectives.
    Every statement of educational purposes, includjng this one, depends upon the judgement of some person or group as to what is good and what is bad, what is true and what is false, what is ugly and what is beautiful, what is valuable ind what is worthless, in the conduct of human affairs. Educational purposes reflect the judgements of people on moral standards. (NEA, 1938).
     Morality is embedded in all formal educational programs. We know that the experience of schooling changes all children, some for the better. Often the changes are hardly the ones planned by the teacher and often are not even apparent to him. Nonetheless teachers must carry a major burden along with the family in helping children deal justly with moral values problems (Sizer, 1975).
    To some observers, moral values education has been described as “the curse of right and wrong.” They have noticed that, in a utilitarian sense, acting ethically doesn’t “pay off” and they are wondering just how amoral one must be in order to succeed in our society wishing they lived in a society in which conventional success was less highly prized and good character was more important (Stein, 1980).
     At the very foundation of our democracy is the primary concern for the individual. The values and procedures of our democracy originate in the individual. Democracy is, in fact, built upon astructure of propositions and concepts about the nature of the individual. Historically, democratic thinkers have generally believed that the individual is by nature rational, moral, free, endowed with rights, and equal (Barton, 1980).
    The highest and most clearly reflective dimension of an individual’s learning is thatof deriving moral content from one’s own individual concepts, experiences, meanings, consequences, significance and worth. Any failure to reach this outcome in a learning experience represents a serious limitation of one’s education (Nyquist, 1976).
    It is generally known that education does not end with the years spent in formal schooling. Less evident but equally true, is the fact that even during the years of school the full scope of learning extends far beyond those few hours of classroom instruction.
     Young people acquire their moral values in many ways which have not been planned as part of the school curricula. Yet the school is an important source for the learning of moral values but must always be a partner with the home, the church, the community, and the nation.
    A decision made in the area of moral values is a reaffirmation of the fundamentals of our democratic nation. It has been observed that democracy is based and predicated on the ability of an individual to make choices based upon reason and a decision-making process which prizes ethical, meaningful, consistent, and conscious action (Friedenberg, 1965).
    Comprehensive analyses of public opiniot polls over the past eight years reveal a picture of improving school quality of response to teaching basic thinking skills, stricter discipline, individualizing needs, improving parent-school relationships, and emphasis upon moral values education. These topped the list of most frequently mentioned items (Brainard, 1977).
    Yet, in a recent CBS News toll it was reported that only eighteen percent of the Americans surveyed said that they had any confidence in their elected congressmen. That is less than one out of five Americans but worse still, in the same poll twenty-one percent said that they thought their congressmen would probably accept an illegal bribe if offered one. And in a recent issue of the New York Times a letter appeared which described those wbo serve in Congress as frauds, liars, embezzlers, and men who hire prostitutes and pursue strippers, and men who take bribes and become outraged when they are caught (MacNeil, 1980).
    While there is an improving public opinion about the role of the schools in the area of moral values instruction, some writers hasten to remind the reader that worsening quality of life, and declining moral standards in society, as a whole, are the result of no individual moral values education at all. For example, it has been reported that there is a severe and almost paralyzing ethical problem facing this country with unlawful behavior, in part, a result of the absence of instruction in individual ethics in thi schools (Benson, 1975).       Some observers report that declining standards of morality in the society are in part due to a prevailing permissiveness which encourages children to sit in front of television for many bours each day and night seeing violence and immorality and being shaped by these values (Kimball, 1960).
    The democratic moral values Americans extol have precise application. Large assertions—freedom of information, press, and speech; freedom of ideas, expression and assembly; freedom of indi vidual workers to thange jobs; freedom of movement from one place to another; equal opportunity and equality before the law; freedom ofreligion and the free market economy—turn up in our ordinary lives and practices. A concern about the relation between morals and politics and philosophic purpose in foreign affairs is taken seriously by Americans.
     For better or for worse, since the beginning of the repub lic Americans have displayed strong sentiments about their country’s role in world affairs. Liberty occupies a central thematic place among them.
     Emblazoned on monuments, sung about in anthems, stamped on coinage and expressed on placards, it still dominates our civic thought and language. That the American concept of independence fuses ideas of individual and national self-determination as aspirations leads some to conclude that this conception has universal pertinence (Seabury, 1980). “The world has become a neighborhood without becoming a brotherhood. . . . Young people want to be told what is right and what is wrong. The moral permissiveness has gone too far. It hasn’t satisfied” (Graham, 1981).
    For over forty years, the Junior State of America, a student-run organization, has encouraged moral values awareness and involvement in moral values issues among high school students. In their recent California conference it was reported that never before have Americans questioned what is right and wrong as they do today. Speakers questioned whether the United States was in a state of moral decay similar to that of the Roman Empire shortly before its final destruction (Junior State, 1980).
    The shocking abstracts which follow, portray the unstable social climate in which children are being educated today and the magnitude of some of the moral values issues schools throughout California now must confront.
   The following papers were available at a recent Fresno State University Character Education Conference:

“The Relation of Character Education and Academic Achievement” Jacques Benninga, Ph.D.,California State University, Fresno Marvin W. Berkowitz, Ph.D., University of Missouri, St. Louis Phyllis Kuehn, Ph.D.,California State University, Fresno Karen Smith, doctoral student, University of Missouri, St. Louis

The belief that character education implementation in schools is related to academic achievement of students in those schools has great intrinsic appeal. This study accessed two large sets of data allowing a direct, objective comparison of the relation between these variables in California schools. A total of 681 elementary schools made application for the California School Recognition Program for the academic year 1999-2000, the first year those schools were asked to address character education criteria in their responses. Linear relationships between resultant character education ratings and academic achievement levels of the sample schools were sought out, and Pearson correlations between total character education scores and each character education item, and the API scores and SAT 9 subscores were computed in this sample.

“Honoring Cultural Diversity: Is Service Learning an Answer?”
Linda Chiang, Ed.D., Azusa Pacific University

The changes in national school demographic patterns challenged educators at all levels to seek ways to appreciate students’ cultural roots. This session involves participants
in discussing questions and issues of service learning and how service learning can honor cultural diversity.

“High School Character Education: Grappling with the Issues”
Matthew Davidson, Ph.D., State University of New York

This session stems from an ongoing, 18-month project, “Educating for Character in the High School: Researching Promising Practices,” designed as the foundational phase in a multi-year effort to study, synthesize, and disseminate effective high school character education. Discussion participants will grapple with questions central to understanding the persistent problems and promising practices in effective high school character education.

“Christian Values, Morals, and Virtue: What about Your Classroom Curriculum?”
Daniel Elliott, Ed.D., Azusa Pacific University

This workshop for classroom teachers, school leaders, and K-12 public school curriculum developers explores the need for and possible processes for and possible application of a character imbued or imbedded school curriculum design.

“Nurturing Dissenting Voices in Working Class Communities of Color”
Barbara Goldstein, Ph.D., Azusa Pacific University
Marta Baltodano, Ph.D, Loyola Marymount University
Mercedes Ibarra, Los Angeles Unified School District
Eduardo Lopez, Ph.D., Mission College

This session will explore how the implementation of some character educational programs work to sustain class inequities and power differentials; how racism, class prejudice, and bias against non-white cultures impact notions of character and morality; and how bicultural students develop survival strategies that may be in opposition to U.S. middle class white/Eurocentric notions of character and moral development. How teachers have shaped existing programs to meet the social justice needs of the students in their communities will also be discussed. Work will be examined by Baumrind, Danforth, Segura-Mora, and Lopez will be examined as well as participant stories to generate an action plan for nurturing the moral development and character as well as the independent and dissenting voices of students.

“Organizational Impediments to Schools of Character”
James Green, Ph.D., Azusa Pacific University

The development of an educational program designed to form desirable character traits presumes a healthy organizational climate. Unfortunately, not all schools are healthy. Indeed, many schools exhibit organizational traits that impede the introduction of character education programs. In this session, the participants will explore the organizational barriers to starting and sustaining educational programs that promote ethical behavior. Current research on the characteristics of dysfunction in educational organizations will be highlighted, including findings from Green’s research for the purpose of establishing a context for the discussion.

“Orange County’s Institute for Character Education”
Betsy Arnow, project director
Rachel Grossman, instructional program assistant
Doug Grove, project evaluator
Christine Gonzales, assistant evaluator
Orange County Department of Education

This session provides an introduction of the Orange County Department of Education’s Institute for Character Education and its progress to date. Key features will include a guest character education “fellow” (classroom teacher) and a description of August’s “Summer Institute” kicking off the first year of implementation.

“Character Development in Youth Soccer Players”
Don Murk, Ph.D., Messiah College
Doug Miller, Ph.D., Messiah College

More than 25 million children participate in youth sports. Moral reasoning patterns for justice, honesty, and responsibility, as well as predicted moral actions of more than 1,000 youth soccer players have been analyzed. The results provide parents, teachers, and coaches with rationale for actively promoting the development of moral character through youth sport participatio

“The Moral Daomain: Perceptions of California Public High School Officials Regarding the Ethics Curriculum in Social Studies Education"
Howard E. Hobbs, Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1981 [pp. 259]

Every statement of educationalpurposes, depends upon the judgement of some person or group as to what is good and what is bad, what is true and what is false, what is ugly and what is beautiful, what is valuable and what is worthless in the conduct of human affairs. Educational purposes reflect the judgment of people on moral standards. Morality is embedded in all educational programs. Comprehnsive analyss of public opinion polls over the past eight years reveal a picture of improving school quality of response to teaching basic thinking skills, stricter discipline, individualizing needs, improving parenty- school relationships and emphassis on moral values education.

“When Aggression is the ‘Right Thing to Do’”

Cynthia Hudley, Ph.D., University of Southern California

Children who display high levels of overt aggression represent a significant problem in schools, families, and communities. In addition to creating unpleasant social environments for classmates and family members, these children are, themselves, at substantial risk for a variety of negative social outcomes. Highly aggressive children as a group generally endorse beliefs that support aggression as an appropriate response to a broader range of interactions with peers. In this study, qualitative and quantitative data is used to explore children’s thinking about when and why aggression is the “right” thing to do. Findings indicate that beliefs about others and beliefs about the self make unique contributions to aggressive behavior for some children and provide a more nuanced understanding of gender differences in aggression.

“The Potential Effect of Education on the Moral Development of Children”
Pat Klose, Escondido Christian School and Cathedral Bible College
Dave McIntire, Ed.D., Azusa Pacific University

Education has been found to be a powerful predictor of moral judgment development. Many research studies have been conducted in recent years to determine what factors within the educational process have the potential to contribute to the moral maturity of children of all ages. This presentation will present the findings of a recent study.

“Demonstrating Effectiveness of Character Education: Surveys for Secondary Schools”
Meg Korpi, Ph.D., Education, Training, Research (ETR) Associates

Demonstrating the effectiveness of character education is important for maintaining a successful program. School boards, finders, and educators need to know how well character education efforts are succeeding. This session presents two rigorously developed surveys designed to assess the effectiveness of school wide character education programs in grades 7-12. These surveys, which are available to schools at no cost, underwent an extensive development process and demonstrate impressive psychometric properties.

“Heroes and Villains, Do We Know Who’s Who?: Fairytales, Folktales, and Sayings for Activities in Peer Perception”
Susan Lees, Psy.D., Azusa Pacific University

This session presents a collaborative approach to facilitating peer relationships for children with social/emotional/
behavioral difficulties in mainstream school settings. Intervention is based on a series of six carefully structured story theater settings. Guided practice and immediate performance feedback in a natural setting are utilized. The presentation documents the journey of a fifth-grade class that included mainstreamed students identified with significant social/emotional/behavioral problems, and tells the story of these students and their teachers as they participated in the “Heroes and Villains” sessions through their own words, pictures, and music. The workshop provides participants the opportunity to experience the “Heroes and Villains” process activities. Participants select a story or saying, determine the format for storytelling, cast story roles, improvise and script the parts, and present the group story. The guide, “Heroes and Villains, Do We Know Who’s Who?: Fairytales, Folktales, and Sayings for Activities in Peer Perception” will be provided to each workshop participant.


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