Moral education can be defined as a life skills curriculum that is tailored to address the needs of the youths and children in schools. It refers to a character development program in the schools. It fundamentally addresses worldview, which determines individual’s beliefs, values and behavior as well as those that are demonstrated by the society. The objective of moral education is developing the character and behaviors of an individual to not only benefit the individual but also other people in the society. Moral education aims at imparting knowledge, skills and desire on the life of the children. The inclusion of moral education into the curriculum arises because of a number of factors that revolve around the society. First of all, it is important to underscore the fact that without moral education there is concern in the society with rising number of social problems which include crime, violence racisms and others not mentioned. A combination of all this factors is enough to breakdown the society. (Emile 1961)
For it to impart positively on the learner moral education should be integrated into the formal curriculum in a very unique way without causing a burden to both the teachers and the learners.
This forms the main part of the curriculum for school children. In this curriculum there are a number of subjects through which students are taken through in the course of their studies.
Moral education can be introduced in a number of subjects as topics or subtopics.
In English and literature moral education can be featured prominently in various ways. A good example is when students are supposed to read a novel and have an analysis. In the course of analyzing characters and themes in a novel the issue of moral values can be chipped in and well taken care of by the teacher. In this context the teacher, should facilitate the understanding of the story line in the context of moral values and believes.
The content of moral education in terms of morality, believes and values can be incorporated effectively in certain subjects. These subjects include religious studies, social studies and nature subjects like biology.
This is a major area in which moral education can be featured prominently. Religious values of Christianity and Islam are fundamental in shaping morality in any society. Most of the society’s values and ethical behavior is influenced by the religion in which the people are affiliated to. Religion being an important part of the society plays a significant role in the formulation of the moral law. With this in mind, then there is no doubt that religious teachings have a lot of moral education. Religious teachings are therefore the best avenues for enhancing moral education in the curriculum.
This is a major area of specialization that can be used sufficiently to address moral education in the curriculum. Social studies revolve around the society and interactions of people in the society. This means that they can adequately address moral education in them. In other subjects such as biology , moral education cab be incorporated in specific topics that touch on the life of the human being for instance the reproductive system. This can be well achieved through addressing diseases such as sexually transmitted diseases which affect the reproductive system and are concerned with moral aspects of the learners. Such content if well explained to the learners form major avenues of featuring moral learning in the students.
The role of the teacher in moral education
It is important that most learners’ questions during moral education sessions or even other classes are normally geared towards understanding moral issues. Therefore the way teachers provide explanations in class is fundamental in enhancing the study of moral education in the curriculum. A good example is when the child is engaged in bad behavior in class. As the student receives punishment from the teacher, some questions linger in the mind concerning why the punishment was administered. A better explanation by the teacher on why the student had to be punishment is crucial in instilling moral education in the students. The student is in a better position to understand from a moral perspective, that whatever he got involved in was not in accordance to the established standards of the school or society at large. Sociologists have argued that the school efforts are important in instilling moral values and rules of conduct. This are very important aspects of the young people that help them to grow into responsible citizens who can fit well within the existing societal moral structures. They insist that the efforts undertaken by school system to teach moral education must be rational in the sense that they should not take an indoctrinatory approach in the learners. The teachers have to explain the moral values to the learners and not just impose values on them. Explaining moral education to the students is better than just stuffing rules and regulations in the students. Even when the student break such rules, lack of proper explanations can lead to repetition of the same habits. This means that the rules and regulations would not be assisting the student to learn moral education but rather they would be instilling fear in them.(Larry 2008)
The teacher’s urgings can also help to feature moral education prominently in the curriculum. This can be well exemplified by students who feel discouraged because of failure in academic subjects. Moral education is effectively imparted when the teacher finds a very sound reason to explain to the student and prevent self-pity from prevailing in the mind of the student. The teachers passionate appeal is very important is inspiring the students and making them feel that they can perform better because failure in one aspect or subject does not mean failure always. The teachers should instill on the best instincts of the learners and influence their shift into a totally different direction. This can be well taken care of using the heart to heart talks between the students and the teachers.
The class environment
The classroom environment is like a small society in which all the students find themselves in the course of their learning. In this particular environment there exist relationships and interactions that facilitate learning of moral education. The teacher should be instrumental in improving the richness of the classroom environment with the adequate materials and essentials to facilitate achievement of moral knowledge and skills that would impact positively on the life of the child in the small society and after graduating the wider society.
Activities such as group discussions and distribution of responsibilities are fundamental in featuring moral education in the learners. The teacher should try and explain well the significance of such important activities to the students.
Moral education should be featured by ensuring that a moral climate prevails in the class environment. The rules of the classroom should demonstrate fairness to all the learners. The moral climate in the classroom is determined by factors within and outside for instance a stressful school routine and a pressure full environment would not be useful in maintaining the required moral climate in the classroom. Maintaining the moral climate in the classroom is a routine that should be undertaken by the teacher every now and then. This can be easily achieved by a powerful teacher.Modeling in class The teacher provides the best example in the classroom on what moral learning should be. This is a problem to many teachers. Though this is the case the example provided by most teachers helps a lot in featuring moral education. Sociologists argue the people with prestige and power can have a lasting impact in terms of values, believes and behavior to those surrounding them. The good values demonstrated by the teachers in classroom are emulated by the learners and are important in featuring moral education. Most learners observe the behavior of the teachers and associate it with adults. This is evident in their form of instruction and overall interaction in the classroom.
The examples of literary and historical persons the teachers give in class also helps to feature moral education. This is why the choice of examples to be used as role models by the teacher should be done with a lot of consideration on the impact the models would have on the learners acquisition of values, believes and behaviors that form moral education.
Moral education in extracurricular activities
Co-curricular activities form an important part of the school curriculum. They are compost of all the activities that take place away from the class environment. Co-curricular activities include sports, song and dances and drama.
Drama is a very important co-curricular activity that can be utilized to facilitate moral learning in the learners. Sociologists argue that drama has the power and capability of engaging the whole person. The whole idea of engaging the whole person has a lot to do with regards to moral education. Drama has the ability to present the necessary moral issues in the right context that can be understood by the leaners.The fact that drama engages both thoughts and feelings makes it a better avenue for instilling moral education because moral responses have been known to be influenced by both feelings and thoughts.
Drama presents moral conflicts and problems in a very unique way by the use experiences while at eh same time protecting the students from the event.
Through drama the learners have an opportunity to reflect on the experiences that they encounter in the course of the event. This is quite instrumental in bringing the students to the realities of considering their ethical issues in abstract and general forms.
Drama has been known to bridge between verbal moral values and the real moral behavior in people.It therefore provides a better avenue in which moral values can develop and become moral behavior in the learners as they go through various experiences in drama. It is also worth mentioning that drama helps students to apply the moral values they experience in drama to real life situations. This is very important in their moral education and development. For drama to help feature moral education effectively the teacher should play the role of facilitator and emphasis on the reflection of the students on the experiences and their significance. Drama if well undertaken by the learners forms a very important medium for personal, social and moral education and development.(Larry 2008)
Sporting events also contribute significantly in featuring moral education in the school curriculum. Sports have rules and regulation that concern the way learners conduct and behave themselves while in the course of interactions through games. This is very important for effecting moral education in the learners.
Other co curricular activities such as songs dances and debates are also important in featuring moral education in the curriculum. This is because through these activities there are values and behaviors that are associated with them and are essential in development of the leaner s social and moral behavior. (Ibid.1978)
In conclusion, it is important to mention that moral education can be featured well in the school curriculum by use of content in the formal curriculum and by use of experiences that come with co-curricular activities such as drama in which the learners are engaged in a wholistic way. Therefore attention should be paid to both the formal curriculum and the extra curricular activities in the course of drafting moral education programmes in schools. This is because moral education development in the learners involves the process of developing values and attitudes in connection with their experiences rather than prescriptions delivered by the syllabus through the teacher.
Lawrence Kohlberg and Elliot Turiel, “Moral Development and Moral Education,” in Gerald Lesser, ed., Psychology and Educational Practice (Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1971), pp. 410-65.
Emile Durkheim, Moral Education (New York: Free Press, 1961), p. 120.
Ibid.; and Alan Lockwood, “The Effects of Values Clarification and Moral Development Curricula on School-Age Subjects: A Critical Review of Recent Research,” Review of Educational Research, vol. 48, 1978, pp. 325-64.
Larry Nucci, 2008, Studies in social and moral Development and Education. Web.
Louis Raths, Merrill Harmin, and Sidney Simon, Values and Teaching, 2nd ed. (Columbus, O.: Charles E. Merrill, 1978).