Ethics and Education

Ethics and Education

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Ethics and Education

Before one decides whether or not morals should be a standard part of
American public school education, one first must figure out what the
purpose of education is. This is a difficult question to answer. Some
would say that the purpose of education is to learn facts. Others would
add to that and say that one's education should include facts and
ideas. Perhaps the goal of education is to create well rounded people
who are prepared to face the world around them. Perhaps education
should be the pursuit of truth, however, in order to pursue truth, one
must also define verity. How do you say which, or who's morals are true
or untrue?

An important aspect of defining education is deciding what areas of a
person's education must be acquired in school, and what areas should be
learned elsewhere. The area of morals is sticky in this respect. It is
very difficult to know where to draw the line. When deciding this one
must figure out where the responsibility of parents ends and where
responsibility begins for teachers. One could argue that teachers have
the task of being educators and parents the job of care-giving, so
therefore all learning, including morals should occur within the
schools. This is difficult to say though, because the line between
teaching and care-giving is also fuzzy. Part of care-giving is making
sure that one's child does not hurt him or her self or others, and that
involves teaching. Similarly, part of teaching is making sure that the
child is able to learn, which involves care-giving.

In modern day society children spend a very large percentage of their
time in school, and perhaps to enough time at home for their parents to
effectively instill all the morals they need to learn in order to be
ethical human beings. Because of this it could be argued that it is the
responsibility of schools to teach morals in order for their to be any
kind of ethical society at all. By not actively teaching morals it is
possible that schools are passively teaching to be immoral.

Another question to be raised is whether or not morals need to be
learned in order ro function in other areas of education. If this is
the case, then another question is whether or not the schools should be
responsible for instilling those morals, or if they should expect the

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students to glean them elsewhere and be prepared to learn when they
enter the classroom.

It could be argued that morals should not be taught in school because
an important part of learning has to take place in the outside world.
This learning outside of the classroom should include learning to choose
one's own beliefs, and morals, which brings up the question of whether
or not people should come up with their own morals drawing from
experiences.

In addition to the question of whether or not morals should be taught
is the question of if morals should be taught, then what morals?
Schools teaching morals would leave the decision of what makes a good
person in the hands of a curriculum committee. If this is the case
perhaps no morals should be taught in schools, because the of the
possibility of teaching the wrong ones, or offending people's sense of
values. Maybe only the most basic morals should be taught, but in order
to teach those one first must figure out what they are.

The problem is, every person has different ideas of morality. Teaching
morality in school would actually eventually alleviate this problem,
everybody who has passed through the school system will have the same
morals. This is not necessarily a good thing. This might not have to
be a bad thing. It is hard to decide, it depends on one's current
morals.

I still have not made up my mind about this problem. In Kozol's view
schools have a responsibility to create good people, but Kozol has very
strong views of morality himself and I have trouble believing that he
would be any happier if the schools were striving to create good people
by teaching morals which were not exactly the ones he would have
chosen. It would be impossible for schools to choose exactly thos
views because, as I said before, everyone's morals are different. On
the other hand, by not teaching morals it seems as if in some ways the
schools are short changing students. It is a complicated question and
not one that is easily answered and I do not think it will be resolved
for a very long time.
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