Moral Values and Civic Education: An Essay on The Interrelation of Aims

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According to Socrates "Education means the bringing out of the ideas of universal validity which are latent in the mind of every man". There is a difference in the opinion of the people regarding the use of traditional teaching methods and modern teaching methods. There were no technology, no multimedia.

There was no freedom of speech. Modern Classroom: The term "Modern" is concerned it is "characteristic of present and recent time". So the definition of "modern education" can be said as "the act or process of imparting the knowledge about our present world and society".

See there are good things and bad things associated with everything. The teacher in a modern classroom could choose from a wide variety of real life examples of evaporation such as boiling water for tea or clothes drying up in sun etc.

Cognitive development: In the traditional learning method, the teacher communicates knowledge to students expecting it to be absorbed and assimilated by students as it is. This usually leads to rote learning without real understanding of the topics. Using modern teaching methods, the students can be involved deeply in the learning process and made to research and come up with their own analysis which leads to a two-way learning that helps to sharpen their cognitive, reasoning and imaginative abilities. When information is presented visually in format that can be related to real life as in the example above , the students can absorb and retain that information for longer periods of time.

In the case where more modern techniques are applied, the students get exposed to knowledge beyond text books that contributes to increased confidence, feelings of empowerment leading to a much more rounded personality. Experiential learning: In the evaporation example mentioned above, we saw that the traditional teaching uses mainly verbal communication while modern methods use a variety of different methods. The modern teaching involves a more holistic experiential learning where a student learns by engaging various senses and feelings or perceptions.

Integrating Values Into Your Career

Knowledge is constructed through play, direct experience and social interaction. The traditional learning however, is restricted to just listening by students limiting the scope of learning experience. Historically, the primary educational technique of traditional education was simple oral recitation. Knowledge was absorbed through lectures, worksheets and texts. This type of learning is difficult to impart when the reliance is just on blackboards. Role of Teacher: The teacher sets the stage and remains in the background in such a learning situation. Through this process there is more learning and less teaching; more study and activity and less recitation.

Pupils are guided in the solution of vital problems of individual and social life. Teachers are facilitators, guides who foster thinking. A test or oral examination might be given at the end of a unit, and the process, which was called "assignment-study-recitation-test", was repeated.

In addition to its overemphasis on verbal answers, reliance on rote memorization memorization with no effort at understanding the meaning , and disconnected, unrelated assignments, it was also an extremely inefficient use of students' and teachers' time. This traditional approach also insisted that all students be taught the same materials at the same point; students that did not learn quickly enough failed, rather than being allowed to succeed at their natural speeds.

Aims of education are formulated keeping in view the needs of situation. Human nature is multisided with multiple needs, which are related to life. Educational aims are correlated to ideals of life. The goal of education should be the full flowering of the human on this earth. Students are to be moulded only by making them experience the significance of these values in the school itself. Teachers could achieve this only by the lived example of their lives manifested in hundreds of small and big transactions with students in word and deed.

Individual aims and social aims are the most important aims of education. They are opposed to each other individual aims gives importance for the development of the individuality. Social aim gives importance to the development of society through individual not fulfilling his desire. But it will be seen that development of individuality assumes meaning only in a social environment.

Children's stories about love and romance and marriage and the family should include religious literature. Character education builds on moral consensus, but obviously there is also a good deal of often strong disagreement on matters relating to sexuality—abstinence and birth control, abortion and homosexuality, for example. Not surprisingly, we also disagree about what to teach students about these things; indeed, we often disagree about whether to teach about such things. Our claim is this: if we are to include controversial issues in the sex education curriculum, then, as always, students must hear the different voices—secular and religious, conservative and liberal—that are part of our cultural conversation.

Given the importance of religion in our culture, to remain ignorant of religious ways of thinking about sexuality is to remain uneducated. Older students should learn about religious as well as secular arguments for abstinence, and they should learn how different religious traditions regard birth control. Although all of the health books we reviewed discussed condoms, none mentioned that Roman Catholic teaching forbids artificial birth control.

Indeed, they should learn something about the relevant Scriptural sources in different traditions for sexual morality, marriage, and the family. They should understand the policy positions on controversial sexual issues taken by contemporary religious organizations and theologians. Or consider abortion. For many religious people, abortion is the most important moral issue of our time; for them, it is the most important consequence of unwanted pregnancies and sexual promiscuity.

Yet most sex education ignores abortion. Of the health texts we reviewed only one mentioned it—devoting a single paragraph to explaining that it is a medically safe alternative to adoption. Well, yes. We suggest that to be an educated human being in the United States at the end of the 20th century one must understand the abortion controversy; indeed, its relevance to sex education is immediate and tremendously important. So what does it mean to be educated about abortion?

Certainly students should understand the point of view of the Roman Catholic Church and those religious conservatives who believe that abortion is murder. They should also understand the point of view of those religious liberals from various traditions who are pro-choice. They should understand feminist positions on abortion. They should learn about the key Supreme Court rulings and different ways of interpreting the implications of political liberty for the abortion debate. Students should read primary source documents written from within each of these traditions. And, of course, teachers and texts should not take positions on where truth lies when we are so deeply divided.

Or consider homosexuality. The health texts we reviewed each mentioned that some people are heterosexual and others are homosexual though not everyone would agree with this way of putting it and that we don't quite know what accounts for the difference. That's it. Like abortion, however, the issue of homosexuality and gay rights is one that is tremendously important for students to understand if they are to be informed citizens and educated about sexuality. One approach is for educators to decide what is right when we disagree and then teach their views to children.

YUVA brings Moral and Civic Education Programme to MEDCO Alex Bhujoharry Girls College

New York City's Children of the Rainbow multicultural curriculum is a rather notorious example; it would have taught elementary school children the acceptability of homosexuality and nontraditional families had not a coalition of religious conservatives rebelled, ultimately forcing the departure of the system's chancellor. Our objection to this curriculum is not its position on homosexuality; it is that it takes a position at all.

It is proper and important to teach children to respect the rights of others; name calling and gay bashing are not permissible—and there is broad consensus about this.

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But we disagree deeply about homosexuality on moral and religious grounds. Given our civic framework, it is not permissible for a public school to institutionalize a moral or religious position on a divisive issue and teach it to children uncritically. Given our educational framework, students must learn about the alternative positions when we disagree; all the major voices must be included in the discussion. Of course, the New York City case was particularly troubling because the children were so young.

What then would an adequate sex education curriculum look like? It must, of course, be age appropriate. Lessons and courses for young children should adopt the character education model, and we must take great care to ensure that we don't encourage premature sexual behavior; character education continues to be appropriate for high school students—so long as it deals with matters about which we agree.

Indeed, we are inclined to think that adolescents need moral guidance in matters of sexual morality rather more than they need freedom. They must learn to think about sexuality in moral terms. We have also argued, however, that we need to educate mature students regarding some matters of great importance about which we disagree deeply. When we do this, however, we must educate them liberally, including all of the major voices—religious as well as secular—in the discussion.

We have already noted that one disagreement is over whether to teach abstinence only. Unhappily, our differences here appear to be irreconcilable. We do believe that some of the controversy would dissipate if sex education were truly liberal. If it would take seriously moral and religious ways of thinking about sexuality, then discussion of condoms would be less likely to be understood as legitimizing promiscuity.

Still, if schools require such courses, they should include opt-out or opt-in provisions. We suspect that if parents were convinced that educators took their moral and religious views seriously, fewer would have their children opt out. We recognize that adequate materials are lacking and most teachers are not prepared to include religious perspectives on sexuality in their classes. It is no easy task to make sense of the soul when discussing abortion in a health class, sacramental understandings of marriage in a home economics class, or the sinfulness of promiscuity in a sex education class.


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Sex education teachers usually have backgrounds in health education, psychology, and the social sciences rather than the humanities or religious studies, and they may have no background in religious studies to help them make sense of religious perspectives on sex education. This is, once again, reason for a required course in religious studies or a moral capstone course that provides a sufficiently deep understanding of religion to enable students to make sense of religious interpretations of morality and sexuality. Still, for both civic and educational reasons, some attention to religion in sex education courses is absolutely essential.

Finally, we note that other teachers will sometimes find themselves drawn into both sex education and moral education. Much fiction, for example, deals with sexuality—dating, love, marriage, integrity, adultery, homosexuality, and the family. As we argued in Chapter 6, the study of literature is important for the insight and perspective it provides on the inescapable existential questions of life—a good number of which bear on sexuality.

Moreover, it is tremendously important that teachers in a variety of courses provide students the moral resources for thinking critically about the portrayal of sexuality in popular culture. Finally, a few reminders. Pluralism and relativism. In Chapter 2 we noted that one of the most difficult tasks for teachers is to convey to students the difference between pluralism and relativism. The civic ground rules of our democracy and the ideal of liberal education require that we respect the pluralistic nature of our society and take seriously the various participants in our cultural conversation about what is morally required of us.

But teachers must not take this to mean that all moral positions are equally good or true. For the most part, moral disagreements are about what the truth is, what justice truly requires. It is true, of course, that within some important intellectual traditions the idea of moral truth makes no sense, and older students should be introduced to such traditions too—though even here there is often a pragmatic moral consensus about some important basic virtues and values. The fact that we disagree about the nature of morality doesn't mean there are not better and worse ways of thinking about it.

People sometimes claim that because religious accounts of morality are absolutist , religion, by its nature, cannot tolerate dissent. This has, of course, been a common religious position; it has also been a common secular position in the 20th century among Nazis and communists, for example. Some religious traditions have placed considerable emphasis on free conscience, however, and if some religions have claimed to know God's law with considerable certainty, others have emphasized humility. Just as scientists can believe in objective truth and yet favor an open society in which we debate what that truth is, so religious folk can believe in moral truth and yet favor an open society in which we pursue it openly, with humility.

Religious diversity. If there are shared moral values that cut across religions, we also need to remember that there are also differences among religions, and it won't do to say that they all agree about morality. As we've just suggested, some traditions favor religious establishments and are intolerant of dissent, while others value freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state; some religions have required nonviolence, others have called for holy wars; some have emphasized love and mercy, and others justice and retribution; some have required chastity and poverty, yet others have sanctified marriage and wealth.

Some religions have understood morality in terms of God's law, others in terms of love, or grace, or tradition, or liberating the oppressed. Religious conservatives have often grounded morality in Scripture, whereas religious liberals have often held that through continuing moral and religious experience, reason and reflection, we can progressively acquire deeper insight into morality and reform our traditions. Some conservatives believe that people are so sinful that only the threat of hell or the experience of divine grace can move them.

Liberals often have a somewhat more optimistic view of human nature in which we have at least a significant potential for doing good apart from supernatural intervention. Teachers must be aware of the complexity of their subject. We often think of morality in terms of personal virtues such as honesty, responsibility, and integrity—in part, perhaps, because such virtues are relatively uncontroversial, in part because they are congenial to an individualistic society.

But there are dangers in uncritically conceiving of morality as a matter primarily of personal virtue. Historically, morality has been intimately tied to visions of justice, social institutions, and ways of thinking about human suffering and flourishing.

Education as a Moral Enterprise

Indeed, given the ubiquity of suffering and injustice, it is hard to think of a more important task for schools than moral education broadly conceived. Of course, much that students study in history and literature classes does address the nature of suffering, injustice, and the human condition. One purpose of moral education is to help make children virtuous—honest, responsible, and compassionate.

Another is to make mature students informed and reflective about important and controversial moral issues. Both purposes are embedded in a yet larger project—making sense of life. On most accounts, morality isn't intellectually free-floating, a matter of personal choices and subjective values. Moralities are embedded in traditions, in conceptions of what it means to be human, in worldviews. How we ground and justify moral claims is tremendously important.

It makes a huge difference if we think, for example, in terms of neoclassical economic theory and cost-benefit analyses, humanistic psychology and self-actualization, or moral theology. Inspite of religious diversity and the great differences between liberals and conservatives within religious traditions, the vast majority of religious folk agree that reality has a God-given moral structure, and this distinguishes them from most secular folk.

Unfortunately, they argue, this language of individualism is not nearly rich enough to allow us to make sense of those moral virtues and vices that are part of our civic and religious traditions. If we haven't already become completely preoccupied with liberty and rights, self-interest and self-esteem, autonomy and individualism, we are in danger of this happening; we are losing our ability to speak meaningfully about virtue and duty, love and self-sacrifice, community and justice. The tendency is to forget the older languages, particularly when the everyday language of culture and the marketplace, schooling and scholarship are secular.

We agree. Too much education is relentlessly fixated on economic and technological development—both of which are important, of course. But, in the end , one of the things most people learn is that the greatest sources of meaning in life come not from wealth and technological wizardry but from altogether different realms of experience. We suggest that if students are to be adequately oriented in life, they should be educated somewhat less about its material dimensions and somewhat more about morality and those forms of community that bind us together with our fellow human beings, with the past, with our posterity, and, perhaps also with God.

It is important at the outset to remember that morality acquires its meaning and its force by virtue of its location within a worldview; there is a danger in abstracting moral principles and values from the contexts that make sense of them. Religious morality must be studied in religious context, paying attention to the theological and institutional webs of meaning that shape and sustain morality. Phillip Wogaman and Douglas M. Strong, for a good collection of excerpts from major Christian writers arranged chronologically, and From Christ to the World: Introductory Readings in Christian Ethics , edited by Wayne G.

Boulton, for a rich collection of biblical texts, articles, and documents, arranged topically, with an emphasis on recent texts. In addition to examining issues of toleration and accommodation on the level of praxis , there has also been much recent work about the extent to which particular political theories themselves are acceptable or unacceptable from religious perspectives.


  1. Introduction.
  2. Religion and Politics.
  3. Training and Education!
  4. Rather than requiring citizens to accept any particular comprehensive doctrine of liberalism, a theory of justice should aim at deriving principles that each citizen may reasonably accept from his or her own comprehensive doctrine. The aim, then, for a political conception of justice is for all reasonable citizens to be able to affirm principles of justice without having to weaken their hold on their own private comprehensive views. One such argument comes from Eomann Callan, in his book Creating Citizens.

    If Rawlsian liberalism requires acceptance of the burdens of judgment, then the overlapping consensus will not include some kinds of religious citizens. Thus, a religious citizen could feel an acute conflict between her identity qua citizen and qua religious adherent. One way of resolving the conflict is to argue that one aspect of her identity should take priority over the other. For many religious citizens, political authority is subservient to—and perhaps even derived from—divine authority, and therefore they see their religious commitments as taking precedence over their civic ones.

    But this tendency makes it more challenging for liberals to adjudicate conflicts between religion and politics. One possibility is for the liberal to argue that the demands of justice are prior to the pursuit of the good which would include religious practice. If so, and if the demands of justice require one to honor duties of citizenship, then one might argue that people should not allow their religious beliefs and practices to restrict or interfere with their roles as citizens.

    One recent trend in democratic theory is an emphasis on the need for democratic decisions to emerge from processes that are informed by deliberation on the part of the citizenry, rather than from a mere aggregation of preferences. As a result, there has been much attention devoted to the kinds of reasons that may or may not be appropriate for public deliberation in a pluralistic society. While responses to this issue have made reference to all kinds of beliefs, much of the discussion has centered on religious beliefs.

    One reason for this emphasis is that, both historically and in contemporary societies, religion has played a central role in political life, and often it has done so for the worse witness the wars of religion in Europe that came in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, for example. As such, it is a powerful political force, and it strikes many who write about this issue as a source of social instability and repression. Another reason is that, due to the nature of religious belief itself, if any kind of belief is inappropriate for public deliberation, then religious beliefs will be the prime candidate, either because they are irrational, or immune to critique, or unverifiable, etc.

    In other words, religion provides a useful test case in evaluating theories of public deliberation. Since citizens have sharp disagreements on comprehensive doctrines, any law or policy that necessarily depends on such a doctrine could not be reasonably accepted by those who reject the doctrine. A prime example of a justification for a law that is publicly inaccessible in this way is one that is explicitly religious. For example, if the rationale for a law that outlawed working on Sunday was simply that it displeases the Christian God, non-Christians could not reasonably accept it.

    Since only secular reasons are publicly accessible in this way, civic virtue requires offering secular reasons and being sufficiently motivated by them to support or oppose the law or policy under debate. Religious reasons are not suitable for public deliberation since they are not shared by the non-religious or people of differing religions and people who reject these reasons would justifiably resent being coerced on the basis of them. Others try to show that religious justifications can contribute positively to democratic polities; the two most common examples in support of this position are the nineteenth-century abolitionist movement and the twentieth-century civil rights movement, both of which achieved desirable political change in large part by appealing directly to the Christian beliefs prevalent in Great Britain and the United States.

    A third inclusivist argument is that it is unfair to hamstring certain groups in their attempts to effect change that they believe is required by justice.

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    Many—though not all—who defend the pro-life position do so by appealing to the actual or potential personhood of fetuses. Consequently, on some versions of exclusivism, citizens who wish to argue against abortion should do so without claiming that fetuses are persons.

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    To ask them to refrain from focusing on this aspect of the issue looks like an attempt to settle the issue by default, then. Instead, inclusivists argue that citizens should feel free to introduce any considerations whatsoever that they think are relevant to the topic under public discussion. Even the most secularized countries Sweden is typically cited as a prime example include substantial numbers of people who still identify themselves as religious. These people are often given substantial democratic rights, sometimes including formal citizenship.

    Why is Civic Education important? - Civics Academy

    And the confrontation between radical Islam and the West shows few signs of abating anytime soon. Consequently, the problems discussed above will likely continue to be important ones for political philosophers in the foreseeable future. Christopher Callaway Email: ccallaway sjcme. Religion and Politics The relation between religion and politics continues to be an important theme in political philosophy , despite the emergent consensus both among political theorists and in practical political contexts, such as the United Nations on the right to freedom of conscience and on the need for some sort of separation between church and state.

    Establishment and Separation of Church and State While the topic of establishment has receded in importance at present, it has been central to political thought in the West since at least the days of Constantine. A church may be supported through taxes and subject to the direction of the government for example, the monarch is still officially the head of the Church of England, and the Prime Minister is responsible for selecting the Archbishop of Canterbury.

    Particular ecclesiastical officials may have, in virtue of their office, an established role in political institutions. A church may simply have a privileged role in certain public, political ceremonies for example, inaugurations, opening of parliament, etc. Toleration and Accommodation of Religious Belief and Practice As European and American societies faced the growing plurality of religious beliefs, communities, and institutions in the early modern era, one of the paramount social problems was determining whether and to what extent they should be tolerated.

    Liberalism and Its Demands on Private Self-Understanding In addition to examining issues of toleration and accommodation on the level of praxis , there has also been much recent work about the extent to which particular political theories themselves are acceptable or unacceptable from religious perspectives. Religious Reasons in Public Deliberation One recent trend in democratic theory is an emphasis on the need for democratic decisions to emerge from processes that are informed by deliberation on the part of the citizenry, rather than from a mere aggregation of preferences.

    References and Further Reading Audi, Robert. Religious Commitment and Secular Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Audi, Robert, and Nicholas Wolterstorff. An accessible, well-reasoned exchange between an inclusivist Wolterstorff and an exclusivist Audi , with rebuttals. Bellah, Robert N. Brighouse, Harry. School Choice and Social Justice.

    Oxford: Oxford University Press, Portions of this book deal with education for autonomy and religious opposition to such proposals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, An exploration of civic education in light of Rawlsian political liberalism. Carter, Stephen L. New York: Basic Books, Clanton, J. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, Coleman, John A. Christian Political Ethics.

    A collection of essays on political topics from a wide array of Christian traditions. Cuneo, Terence, ed. Religion in the Liberal Polity. A collection of essays on religion, rights, public deliberation, and related topics. Dagger, Richard. De monarchia. Prue Shaw. Book 3 of this work concerns the relation and division between Church and State. Eberle, Christopher J. Religious Convictions in Liberal Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, A thorough critique of the varieties of exclusivism.

    Eliot, T. London: Faber and Faber, Gaus, Gerald F. London: Routledge,