Friday, October 22, 2010

Moral Development in the Classroom

Parents have many opportunities to visit their children’s school throughout the year. Attending Open House, parent-teacher conferences, special assemblies and presentations, sporting events – these events give parents a glimpse of the environment in which their children are spending a great deal of time. But how does a parent know if morality is encouraged there?

Morality refers to social conduct that exhibits good judgment of fairness, honesty and equality. Research studies and analysis have found that teachers who consistently encourage mutual respect in classrooms help develop morality in their students. Experts suggest that teachers who praise a student’s considerations for others or encourage politeness throughout the school day also cultivate a sense of morality in the classroom.

Children may be able to learn morality by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. In terms of equality, honesty and keeping promises, one study in China found the concept of “If I were you and you were me” to be helpful for children. For example, if the teacher explains how either party would feel regarding the betrayal of a friend who broke a promise, both children learn a moral lesson from the event.

In addition to teachers, close friends also have an impact on moral learning. When children have a close friendship with a least one peer, they are better able to tell the difference between the norms of genuine and close friendships compared to the norms of friendship in the context of a group.

So the next time you visit your child’s school, check out the playground and the company your child keeps. It may be the values of your child’s friends – good or bad – that are helping to shape your child’s view of morality.

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