“Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.” Jose Ortega y Gasset
The study of morals and values dates back thousands of years. Within the United States – hundreds of years. Its inception began with Horace Mann (1796-1859), the Massachusetts statesman and champion for morals education in the classroom. John Dewey (1859-1952), educational reformer, followed suit stating morals education was of significant importance in schools. Sadly, morals instruction has eluded successful drafting into a definite curriculum. Instead, it has been “thought” intuitively learned at home, school, and church.
Although assumptions of morals learning sound good in intent, it is clear that time has come to seriously consider “making time” for morals education in schools as shown in the recent bullying of a school bus monitor in Greece, New York.
Society has changed – most children come from single parent families, one out of three teenage girls is a mother, and church memberships are down. While bullying and character programs have been on the rise in the classroom, they do not adequately set the purpose for the learning that needs to take place, which is “learning to do what is right for right’s sake.”
Morals learning should scaffold like any successful curriculum, beginning with a foundation in the early years and emerging over time. Unless educators provide adequate morals instruction in the classroom, our students have a slim to none chance of developing moral values on their own…
Alice came to a fork in the road. “Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire cat.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then…,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Morals education was previously taught in the home with the parents “buy in” that education was extremely important. Students came to school prepared, by their family, to learn. Most of the children came knowing basics such as: colors, letters, numbers, their name, how to put their own clothes on, cutting with scissors, etc. Parents are the first teachers for academics and morals. As of recent years,most students come to skill with very few basic skills and morals. Lack of respect for any authority; teachers, administrators, police officers, and even their own parents has the most heartbreaking trend in education. This lack of respect has been evidenced in the growing concern for bullying in school . Without a basic moral compass, more children have been exhibiting poor work habits, doing less and expecting more as well as not being responsible for their actions. We need to teach social skills, manners and model moral integrity for our students in order for them to reach their full potential in academics. Reason: It is not always taught at home.