June 16, 2003
Moral Education Abstratcs
By Amy Williams,
Staff Writer & Howard Hobbs PhD
- 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,
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
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
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.
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
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
“Organizational Impediments to Schools
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
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
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 participation.
“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
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
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
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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