Morals are caught, not taught. They take shape not through precept, but rather through the uncountable ordinary and informal contacts we have with other people. No single event or deed "causes" us to become patient or impatient, or attentive or inattentive to others. We cannot say, "John became a patient person last Tuesday morning," although that may have been the first occasion when we recognized that virtue in him. Rather, these dispositions emerge unevenly, if they do so at all - through fits and starts, as we act in environments such as the home, the school, the community, (Chein, 1972). Moreover, the process can work both ways. Over time, a patient person can lose that virtue and become impatient. Regardless of which way the process goes, however, the point is that it cannot be forced. It cannot be preset according to a timetable or schedule. Character and personal disposition materialize over time. They take form through potentially any contacts an individual has with other people.
This familiar viewpoint serves as my point of departure in the present article. My central premise will be that everyday classroom life is saturated with moral meaning. In particular, I will show how even the most routine aspects of teaching convey moral messages to students. I will suggest that those messages may have as important an impact on them as the formal curriculum itself (Chein, 1972). The latter includes moral education curricula centered upon values clarification, moral reasoning, democratic deliberation, and the like. These curricular endeavors can benefit students, and, by extension, the larger society. However, I will suggest that it is crucial to heed from a moral point of view what takes place in the routine affairs of the school and classroom. Those affairs can strongly influence students' character and personal disposition. It should be focused in particular on how teachers, through their everyday conduct and practice, can create environments in which students can "catch" positive ways of regarding and treating other people and their efforts.
In time, we should begin to see how their classroom work was infused with moral significance. We will illuminate that significance by discussing their everyday classroom teaching. We will discuss ways in which they begin a lesson; how they handle the need for turn-taking among students; what their typical style of working is like; and how these routines contribute to the learning environment that eventually emerges in the classroom. These activities are not usually thought of as having moral meaning. They are normally described as issues of classroom management, curricular focus, instructional method, and so forth. However, I will show that in actual practice, they embody ongoing moral lessons about how to treat other people, how to treat oneself, and how to regard the process of education.
Defining a teacher is easy but to elaborate what a teacher means could be daunting because a teacher is a complex person in one body with diverse roles that makes it more complicated.
A teacher is someone who imparts knowledge. But setting aside that definition of a teacher, a teacher is a person of different responsibilities and jobs blended into one. One could not be a teacher without being able to handle a lot of responsibilities and a flexible personality to adapt to different situations.
A teacher needs to have all the positive traits available; patient, kind, loving, caring, honest, real, down to earth, friendly, calm, alert, smart, etc., because she has a lot of responsibilities to take care of and must be able to adapt to different personalities and situations around her/his.
As an educator a teacher imparts knowledge to people. She/he teaches them to read and write. She explains how problems are solved and explains the lesson to the students.
Morality is antecedent to ethics: it denotes those concrete activities of which ethics is the science. It may be defined as human conduct in so far as it is freely subordinated to the ideal of what is right and fitting.
The relation of morality to religion has been a subject of keen debate during the past century. In much recent ethical philosophy it is strenuously maintained that right moral action is altogether independent of religion. Such is the teaching alike of the Evolutionary, Positivist, and Idealist schools. And an active propaganda is being carried on with a view to the general substitution of this independent morality for morality based on the beliefs of Theism. On the other hand, the Church has ever affirmed that the two are essentially connected, and that apart from religion the observance of the moral law is impossible. This, indeed, follows as a necessary consequence from the Church's teaching as to the nature of morality. It is admitted that the moral law is knowable to reason: for the due regulation of our free actions, in which morality consists, is simply their right ordering with a view to the perfecting of our rational nature.
What constitutes moral education is not always clear, a fact that is at the root of some of the conflict. In fields such as mathematics or physics, there are generally no problems, but the issue becomes murkier in literature, history and sociology. Discussing a book with a moral lesson in it in a literature class is not the same thing as advocating that moral lesson, but the distinction is not always clear. In science, the conflict over teaching evolution vs. creationism has been couched in moral and ethical terms.
3.0 Role of a Teachers as a Moral Educator
Teaching is not more of a profession but a CALLING, where one is given power to pass not only knowledge but skills and right attitudes. This section closely examines different roles of a teacher as a moral educator.
Teachers must educate their students on the importance of selecting the appropriate company. They must also show excellent example to the learners. It is often said that morality is fostered by good example. It is also said that evil is fostered by bad example. There is an intuition here that children are strongly influenced by the company they keep. There is also interjected into this discourse the idea that children can rise above their surroundings. This is usually said to children who cannot avoid bad company, as it were. What is implicit in all of this is the belief that a moral point of view, or lack thereof, is mediated through social influences. There is nothing astounding here, except that teachers tend to forget the effects of normative influence.
In some working-class families,
one of the influences on moral education is the television which interacts with
the children more even than do their parents or teachers (Sullivan, 1980).
Though parenting plays a significant role in the legitimation of culture, it
now has a contender in television. For example, before a child reaches the age
When compared with parents and schools, the mass media--that is, newsprint, comics, radio, and television are, at the same time, more anonymous and democratic. As opposed to parents, who concentrate their efforts on their own children and possibly their neighbors', the mass media are directed to a wider range of people, but with patently more utilitarian motives. In essence, the media are supported by modern advertising, whose main message is to sell products as commodities to people on a large scale as the correlate of mass production. It can be seen in some of the early advertising journals that the media were to conflict with the family.
The socially constructed nature of television makes it more of a private event, even though the viewer-listener is receiving communications. A morally responsible actor is not a private actor. As I have already said, a human act is an expression which has as one of its distinguishing characteristics, significance. Significance implies that moral action has a public nature. Besides this, television and other media perpetuate pornography and teachers must be on the look out to warn their children against learning immoral acts from them.
Character formation begins with a caring relationship, first in the home and then at school. Teachers create a basis for children through encouraging caring relationships in schools that bridge from adult to child through which mutual influence can occur (Chein, 1972). Any child who is being cared for will likely care for others and will engage as a citizen in the moral life of the community. The quality of early teacher-student relationships can have a strong influence on academic and social outcomes that persist through eighth grade (Chein, 1972). Teaching styles that conform to dimensions of effective parenting were a significant predictor of students' academic goals, interest in school, and mastery learning orientation. In particular, teachers who have high expectations tend to have students who get better grades but who also pursue prosaical goals, take responsibility, and show a commitment to mastery learning. Conversely, teachers who are harshly critical and are perceived to be unfair have students who do not act responsibly with respect to classroom rules and academic goals.
Caring schools and classrooms provide multiple benefits for students. Caring school climates encourage social and emotional bonding and promote positive interpersonal experiences, providing the minimum grounding necessary for the formation of character (Gramsci, 1971). Moreover, in schools with a strong indication of communal organization, less student misconduct is noted (Gramsci, 1971) and rates of drug use and delinquency are lower (Gramsci, 1971). Student attachment or bonding to school improves school motivation (Gramsci, 1971) and discourages delinquency (Welsh, Greene, &Jenkins, 1999) and victimization of teachers and students (Gramsci, 1971). Schools characterized by a strong sense of community report decreased discipline problems and less drug use, delinquency, and bullying; conversely, they also report higher attendance and improvements in academic performance (see Lapsley & Narvaez, 2006, for a review).
Another best practice among teachers as a way of teaching morals to children is enhancing learners’ social and emotional skill development. Social and emotional skills are crucial to school success. Recent research suggests that emotional intelligence has more bearing on life and school outcomes than does academic intelligence (Kavanaugh, 1983) stated, social and emotional learning programs pave the way for better academic learning. They teach children social and emotional skills that are intimately linked with cognitive development. Social and emotional skills facilitate everyday life, affecting relationships and school achievement-skills in communication, conflict resolution, decision making, and cooperation (Kavanaugh, 1983).
A substantial body of
literature indicates that teachers employ programs that address social and
emotional competencies and which are effective in preventing problem behaviors
(Taylor 1964), including drug use (Kavanaugh, 1983) and violence (Kavanaugh,
1983). Social and emotional learning is also a strong predictor of future
children moral outcomes (
This is a perfect tool for
teaching morals among the children that teachers call to task and should
continue to. Teaching for expertise involves direct instruction through role
modeling, expert demonstration, and thinking aloud (Sternberg, 1998), focusing
attention on ethical aspects of situations and expressing the importance of
ethical behavior. It also requires indirect instruction through immersion in
environments where skills and procedures can be practiced extensively (
Immersion in Examples and Opportunities (E & O), the student sees prototypes of the behavior to be learned and begins to attend to the big picture, learning to recognize basic patterns. The teacher plunges students into multiple, engaging activities. Students learn to recognize broad patterns in the domain (identification knowledge). They develop gradual awareness and recognition of elements in the domain.
Attention to Facts and Skills (F & S), the student learns to focus on detail and prototypical examples, building a knowledge base. The teacher focuses the student's attention on the elemental concepts in the domain in order to build elaboration knowledge. Skills are gradually acquired through motivated, focused attention. In Practice Procedures (P & P), the student learns to set goals, plan steps of problem solving, and practice skills. The teacher coaches the student and allows the student to try out many skills and ideas throughout the domain in order to build an understanding of how these relate and how best to solve problems in the domain (planning knowledge). Skills are developed through practice and exploration.
Integrate Knowledge and Procedures (K & P), the student executes plans and solves problems. The student finds numerous mentors or seeks out information to continue building concepts and skills. A gradual systematic integration and application of skills occurs across many situations. The student learns how to take the steps in solving complex domain problems (execution knowledge). This set of novice-to-expert levels of teaching come in handy in modeling children morally.
Teachers must ensure that their
students learn to use their skills independently. Individuals can be coached
not only in skills and expertise but also in domain-specific self-efficacy and
self-regulation (Chein, 1972).). The most successful students learn to monitor
the effectiveness of the strategies they use to solve problems and, when
necessary, alter their strategies for success (
Teachers should understand their roles as facilitators of student self-development. Able learners have good self-regulatory skills for learning, (Chein, 1972). Teachers have a chance to help students develop the attitudes and skills necessary for the journey toward their future. This is true for moral character as well. As in any domain, moral character skills must be practiced in order to be developed. Teachers must be oriented to providing good practice opportunities for students. For example, if students do not get practice in helping others, they are less likely to do it independently when the occasion arises (Chein, 1972).
With adult coaching, each student can monitor ethical skill development and hone a particular set of morals. Once developed, virtues must be maintained through the selection of appropriate friends and environments (Aristotle, 1988). Virtuous individuals are autonomous enough to monitor their behavior and choices.
In summary, the paper provides a functional view of what direction a teacher can take in deliberately fostering moral character of the children. First, teacher educators point out the importance of establishing a respectful and caring relationship with students, helping teachers understand and practice different ways to do this. This is accompanied by helping teachers learn how to establish a supportive classroom climate, which is important for achievement and ethical character development. Secondly, teachers help their students identify the ethical skills that support academic and social success, guiding them to understand ways to use them during the school day in academic and non-academic lessons. Thirdly, teachers must learn and instill on their children how to cultivate expertise in students not only in their academic discipline, but also for an ethical social life. Fourthly, in subject matter and in social life, teachers assist their learners develop techniques to help them foster self-regulation and self-efficacy.
Student moral development is both implicit and inevitable in standard educational practice. The challenge facing teachers and teacher educators is whether to allow moral formation to occur opportunistically-letting students learn what they will, for good or bad, come what may-or to foster an intentional, transparent, and deliberative approach that seriously considers the moral dimensions of teaching and schooling. Two teacher education strategies are encouraged in schools. The minimalist strategy requires teachers to make explicit the hidden moral education curriculum and to encourage their students to see the moral character outcomes that are immanent to best practice moral instruction. The maximalist strategy requires that teachers learn a toolkit of pedagogical skills that targets moral character education as an explicit curricular goal. It is important to know that when teachers are intentional and wise in praxis, they provide students with a deliberative, positive influence on their individual and group characters.
Chein, I. (1972). The Science of Behaviour and the Image of Man. New York: Basic Books.Cover, J. (1983) Theological Reflections: Societal
Effects of Television. Religious Education, 78(1), pp. 38-49.
Golsen, R. (1975). The Show and Tell Machine. New York: Delta (paperback).
Gramsci, A. (1971). Selection from Prison Notebooks. New York: International Publishers.
Kavanaugh, J. (1983). Capitalist Culture as a Religious and Educational Formation System. Journal of Religious Education, 78(1), pp. 50-60.
Kellner, D. (1978). Ideology, Marxism and Advanced Capitalism. Socialist Review, 8(c), pp. 57-58.Sullivan, E.V. (1984) Critical Psychology:
Interpretation of the Personal World. New York: Plenum Press.
Taylor, C. (1964). Explanation of Social Behaviour. New York
KENPRO (2010). Teaching ethics and professionalism. KENPRO Online Papers Portal. Available online at www.kenpro.org/papers.