Teachers are obliged to develop children’s morality as a part of their education. Children observe and informally learn life skills from an array of sources throughout their lifetime; these influences can affect the physical, cognitive and social-emotional aspects of a child’s development. The standards of a child’s morals are predominantly shaped by the morals of those around them such as peers, adults and teachers; this in many cases can prove undamaging, however some may unintentionally adopt a preconventional morality.
In order to prevent undesirable moral traits within a child should it be the obligation of their teachers to educate the children in an internal behavioural context? Will this solve the issue? Social theologist’s propose that mental and moral standards have no objective reality, they are derived from ones subjective opinion (Miller, 2007). However it is also argued that a child’s environment is directly linked to changes in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, subsequently affecting the child’s cognitive mental development (Hansen, 2012).
It can be justified to say that children can and will be affected morally by their surroundings, conversely the degree of impact will be determined by the child’s internal response. The process of moral advancement is linked to an individual’s three developmental domains, physical, cognitive and social-emotional; all of these domains are interrelated among each other and in some way represented within the educational curriculum (McDevitt, 2004).
Physical abilities, neurological capabilities and the acquisition of motor skills are all taught and practiced throughout schooling, the obligation teachers have in assisting physical development manifests into an appropriate platform for moral development within the other two domains. Children begin to conceptualise abstract and analytical thought patterns as they learn and follow their teacher’s rules which differ from their social and home rubrics. According to Piaget (1932) children at their earliest stages of moral development begin to analyse behaviours based on the resulting consequences (McDevitt, 2013).
Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, where a child’s moral fortitude is defined by what they believe is emotionally right or wrong (McDevitt, 2013), poses as another form of moral evolution. At school, these two forms of moral development arise from teachers whom are individually obligated to teach their students a broad range of moral behaviours and base their teaching on their own moral values; however this creates room for error and discrimination.
The obligations some teachers have to educate students on morals is both self-motivated and an honourable attribute, teachers within the public schooling system however have a fine line they must abide by. Religion, is banned in the public school curriculum by the Board of Studies, many people such as Humanists have the perspective that in order to guide children in establishing ‘proper’ morals one must reference a form of religion, whether it be directly or indirectly, however if it creates a happier, healthier child by all means teach moral education in school (Schafersman, 1991).
Liberals see the education of morals and ethics to children not as a means of teaching and developing children socially and emotionally, but as a manifestation of religious views (Miller, 2007). This idea is not unfair, many parents have a range of views they predict superior to the idea of religion and any link to it. These restrictions nevertheless must coincide with a teacher’s code of conduct, the anti-religion extremist must understand the difference, and teachers should not have to ignore any moral transgressions by a child.
Many parents of young children aged from 4-7 years old, which is when they first start to understand moral and immoral behaviour(2012, 09), can find themselves too busy to instil their own morals and ethics onto their children and rely solely on their child’s other surrounding attributes to provide the developmental avenues necessary. Children who are not taught morals and appropriate behaviour prove to be more disruptive within a class setting (McDevitt, 2013).
In these circumstances a child may struggle to develop socially and emotionally. A teacher educating morals will never replace a parent, however if the child is not receiving an ample amount of moral education at home, perhaps it is in the best interest of the parent, teacher and child if they were taught some moral standards at school. An obligated teacher, before enforcing moral standards, must assess a child’s physical, social-emotional and cognitive domains as there is a great diversity within each child’s moral development.
Identify family conditions such as family structure, cultural background, family livelihood, parenting styles, disruptive influences and maltreatment (McDevitt, 2013). Gender also plays a role in moral diversity, females are more likely to inherit a care orientation, whilst males are more justice orientated (McDevitt, 2013). Different ethnicities too have varying understandings on what is right, and what is wrong.
A child’s exposure to moral disputes and crisis beyond their years will have a great impact on their overall development, in these cases it is applauded for a teacher to feel obliged to not teach, but help a child through a moral issue. Children grow and adapt to their surroundings, they take moral values from all avenues and mould them to coincide within their own lifestyle, and therefore a teacher should feel obliged to contribute a level of moral fortitude, depending on the child’s circumstances.
A teacher may encourage morals indirectly by creating learning and social groups for children with a preconventional morality, this enhances their social-emotional development giving the pupil more peers to converse and follow suit (Bredekamp, 2009). A teacher may enforce moral standards cognitively if they believe the child is bullying or acting in a hostile manner. When a child is growing it can be a very fragile process, any altercations to a single progressive domain may throw off the entire balance, as all the developmental domains are similarly linked.
Schooling systems are created to assist a child to develop and learn in an environment that appeals to a child’s every growing need, according to the Board of Studies. For an institution to advertise this degree of growth in a child it must have teachers going above and beyond the curriculum to impel children to mature and understand societal transgressions as well as the standard schooling subjects. Children will learn from teachers, teachers are seen as a source of information, they are the hierarchy outside of home, and they are interpreted as unquestionable (Daniels, 2002).
If a teacher can use his or hers’ authority, with an educated opinion as to the child’s stability within its three domains, and help children advance their moral standards, then the teacher should welcomely feel obliged to educate morality, without scrutiny. (1,080 words) References Dave Miller. Can’t Teach Morals in School, Scholarly Blog. 2007. D. H. Daniels, L. Shumow. Child development and classroom teaching: a review of the literature and implications for educating teachers, 2002. J. L. Hansen, M. K. Chung, B. B. Avants, K. D. Rudolph, E. A,Shirtcliff, J. C. Gee, R. J. Davidson, S. D.
Pollak. Structural variations in prefrontal cortex mediate the relationship between early childhood stress and spatial working memory. Journal of Neuroscience, 2012. Steven D. Schafersman, TEACHING MORALS AND VALUES IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS: A HUMANIST PERSPECTIVE, 1991 S. Bredekamp, C. Copple. Appropreate Practice in Early Childhood Programs, 2009 T. McDevitt, J. Ormrod. Child development: educating and working with children and adolescents (2nd ed), 2004. T. McDevitt, J. Ormrod, G. Cupit, M. Chandler, V. Aloa. Child Development and Education. 2013. 2012, 09. Moral Development. www. StudyMode. com.
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