Essay On Youth And Moral Values

Indeed, schools teach morality in a number of ways, both implicit and explicit.

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According to the “Character Education Manifesto,” “all schools have the obligation to foster in their students personal and civic virtues such as integrity, courage, responsibility, diligence, service, and respect for the dignity of all persons” (Boston University, 1996).

The goal is the development of character or virtue, not correct views on “ideologically charged issues.” Schools must become “communities of virtue” in which “responsibility, hard work, honesty, and kindness are modeled, taught, expected, celebrated, and continually practiced.” An important resource is the “reservoir of moral wisdom” that can be found in “great stories, works of art, literature, history, and biography.” Education is a moral enterprise in which “we need to re-engage the hearts, minds, and hands of our children in forming their own characters, helping them `to know the good, love the good, and do the good'” (Boston University, 1996).

Schools convey to children what is expected of them, what is normal, what is right and wrong.

It is often claimed that values are caught rather than taught; through their ethos, schools socialize children into patterns of moral behavior.

Both are proper and important tasks of schools—and both cut across the curriculum.

The inevitable question, of course, is, whose morality will be taught?

It is unjustifiable for a teacher to “impose” his or her values on students; this would be an act of oppression that denies the individuality and autonomy of students.

Values are ultimately personal; indeed, the implicit message is that there are no right or wrong values.

For the past several decades values clarification programs have been widely used in public schools.

In this approach, teachers help students “clarify” their values by having them reflect on moral dilemmas and think through the consequences of the options open to them, choosing that action that maximizes their deepest values.


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