Moral Education

Please Note: The list below is not exhaustive, and contains mostly recent journal articles.

Fechter, Anne-Meike
Journal of Moral Education43:2 (2014): 143-155

Currently, there is no clearly delineated field that could be described as ‘the anthropology of morality’. There exists, however, an increasingly visible and vocal interest in issues of morality among anthropologists. Although there has been a lack of explicit study, it has become clear that anthropologists have, in fact, been concerned with issues of moralities all along. The purpose of this special issue is to bring this interest to ethnographic studies of childhood, and explore how and why children or young people act in a particular way and are making certain choices, how these are valued or contested by their families, peers, and communities. The papers in this special issue highlight the contestations that arise as multiple moralities collide, and the effects this may have for the persons involved. Collectively, the papers illustrate a notion of moralities as multiple, contested, and mobile, and the consequences this may have in a globalising world.

Norrish, Jacolyn M., Williams, Page, O'Connor, Meredith, and Robinson, Justin
International Journal of Wellbeing3:2 (2013)

The increasing momentum of the Positive Psychology movement has seen burgeoning research in positive mental health and adaptive functioning; a critical question is how this knowledge can now be applied in real-world settings. Positive Education seeks to combine principles of Positive Psychology with best-practice teaching and with educational paradigms to promote optimal development and flourishing in the school setting. Interest in Positive Education continues to grow in line with increasing recognition of the important role played by schools in fostering wellbeing, and the link between wellbeing and academic success. To date, however, a framework to guide the implementation of Positive Education in schools has been lacking. This paper provides an overview of the Geelong Grammar School (GGS) Model for Positive Education, an applied framework developed over five years of implementing Positive Education as a whole-school approach in one Australian school. Explicit and implicit teaching in combination with school-wide practices target six wellbeing domains, including positive emotions, positive engagement, positive accomplishment, positive purpose, positive relationships, and positive health, underpinned by a focus on character strengths. The Model provides a structured pathway for implementing Positive Education in schools, a framework to guide evaluation and research, and a foundation for further theoretical discussion and development.

Lewis, Paul
Journal of Moral Education41 (2012): 155-170

In the United States, various forms of character education have become popular in both elementary and professional education. They are often criticised, however, for their reliance on Aristotle, who is said to be problematic at several points. In response to these criticisms, I argue that Aristotle’s ancient account of character and its formation remains viable in light of work over the last decade in psychology and the neurosciences. However, some lacunae remain that can at least be partially filled with insights drawn from the work of Michael Polanyi, a scientist-turned-philosopher whose larger philosophical project was launched by a desire to see Western society flourish. Insights from these varied sources can provide the building blocks with which to construct an account of character and its development that preserves Aristotle’s best insights in ways that answer the concerns voiced by the critics.

White, Brian
Journal of Moral Education44 (2015): 127-144

Many conservatives, including some conservative scholars, blame the ideas and influence of John Dewey for what has frequently been called a crisis of character, a catastrophic decline in moral behavior in the schools and society of North America. Dewey’s critics claim that he is responsible for the undermining of the kinds of instruction that could lead to the development of character and the strengthening of the will, and that his educational philosophy and example exert a ubiquitous and disastrous influence on students’ conceptions of moral behavior. This article sets forth the views of some of these critics and juxtaposes them with what Dewey actually believed and wrote regarding character education. The juxtaposition demonstrates that Dewey neither called for nor exemplified the kinds of character-eroding pedagogy his critics accuse him of championing; in addition, this paper highlights the ways in which Dewey argued consistently and convincingly that the pedagogical approaches advocated by his critics are the real culprits in the decline of character and moral education.

Campilloa, Margarita, Saeza, Juan, and Sanchez, Mariano
Ethics and Education9:1 (2014): 3-15

Most ethical considerations related to the activities of the professions, including that of social education, have been put forward using a set of professional ethics that are frequently associated with principles and imperatives that aspire to be universal but have little connection to real and specific situations. In this paper, we offer an interpretation of the ethics associated with the profession of social educator from positions that are less transcendent, more immanent. Such an interpretation is based on and built from professional practice, from actual, relational situations that social educators have experienced in the real contexts in which they work. Following a discussion on the usefulness of reflecting about the ethical dimensions of educational activity, we look at situations in which social educators, immersed in relationships, put their skills and competencies to use, and we propose some guidelines for an ethical practice of the educational relationships in this field.

Sanderse, Wouter
Journal of Moral Education42:1 (2013): 28-42

Character education considers teachers to be role models, but it is unclear what this means in practice. Do teachers model admirable character traits? And do they do so effectively? In this article the relevant pedagogical and psychological literature is reviewed in order to shed light on these questions. First, the use of role modelling as a teaching method in secondary education is assessed. Second, adolescents’ role models and their moral qualities are identified. Third, the psychology of moral learners is critically examined, using Bandura’s social learning theory as point of departure. It turns out that role modelling is rarely used as an explicit teaching method and that only a very small percentage of adolescents recognises teachers as role models. If role modelling is to contribute to children’s moral education, teachers are recommended to explain why the modelled traits are morally significant and how students can acquire these qualities for themselves.

Kristjánssona, Kristján
Journal of Moral Education43:4 (2104): 468-483

The aim of this article is to reconstruct two counter-intuitive Aristotelian theses—about contemplation as the culmination of the good life and about the impossibility of undoing bad upbringing—to bring them into line with current empirical research, as well as with the essentials of an overall Aristotelian approach to moral education. I start by rehearsing those essentials. I then illustrate the two theses and their counter-intuitive ramifications by dint of three life stories of imaginary persons. Subsequently, I offer a reconstruction of Aristotle’s theses which, while going beyond the textual evidence, remains faithful to core elements of his moral and educational theory. I finally bring some considerations from the current literature on self-change to bear on this Aristotelian reconstruction, arguing that the effects of bad upbringing can be undone through contemplative activity. I also elicit some implications of the proposed argument for contemporary moral education and schooling.