What is "Moral Education"

Published 7:15 am Thursday, July 10, 2003

By by Sonya Rodgers
Education Columnist
Moral education has served as a key component of American education for many years. It even traces back to colonial times. In the 1960s and 1970s, moral education forces appeared problematic for public schools because of a number of social and cultural upheavals. As a result, Americans lost faith in their ability to find common ground in relation to racial discrimination, the waging of an unpopular war, and a deepening of cultural pluralism. However, they sought to preserve a fragile peace by accepting differences and encouraging tolerance.
Many school districts began to follow Kohlberg's Moral Reasoning Approach which enhances the development of a student's personal value and his or her system of beliefs. Kohlberg typically focuses on the cognitive dimensions of moral conduct. He questions, "What are moral issues and how should one act on them"? Moral educators suggest that emotions are a natural component of a child's social repertoire. Some researchers believe there are four moral sentiments which are innate and they directly relate to human moral behavior. These sentiments are known as sympathy, duty, fairness and self-control. These sentiments are thought to be the predisposition for moral action.
According to J.Q. Wilson (1993), educators have an obligation to address issues of moral education by providing enriching strategies that foster the cultivation of moral sentiments. Education technology is an especially effective tool in engendering the development of duty, fairness, sympathy, and self-control in the classroom. Teachers may use four different types of strategies for implementing the use of education technology. These strategies include virtual gatherings, social action projects, problem-solving computer courseware and video projects.
Students can explore the moral sentiment of self-control through video production projects. For example, they may challenge a collaborative endeavor such as the creation of a "movie story." Through this journey, they are expected to compromise, take initiative to work as a team and assume responsibility for the finished product. In using these technological strategies, educators can hopefully heighten students' moral sensibilities. Not only do technology-infused projects of this nature target curricular concerns, they also lure students to develop a sense of duty or responsibility to humanity.
Being that we live in one of the most exciting and ever-changing times in human history, the "information age." it is critical that we understand how to effectively use communication skills to access information. We must ensure that our students are active participants during this time of technological advancement. As parents and educators, we must be in the forefront exploring technological opportunities for the purpose of instilling moral sentiments as well as keeping abreast of new and modern programs.
Sonya Rodgers is an independent columnist for the Atmore Advance and may be reached by e-mail at newsroom@atmoreadvance.com

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