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Who holds the responsibility for moral development in children?

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Introduction

TURGENEVA LIANA BA QTS (YEAR 1) PRORESSONAL STUDIES 2001/2002 - Semester One Assessment 1 (7th December 2001) WHO HOLDS THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN ? Moral philosophy is hard thought about right action. Socrates The purpose of this essay is to create a body of knowledge for follow-on research in the field of the impact of different factors on moral development of children. For this purpose information was gathered through the study and analysis of materials presented in books, research journals, and professional publications so as to determine: "Who holds the responsibility for moral development of children?" On initial consideration, the question posed here seemed to bracket nicely few main points of the subject, but that impression appeared to be wide of the mark, especially when it came to making judgments concerning the notions of "morals" and "morality". Really, what is a morality? What does it mean to be a moral person? Our values, both moral and non-moral, were acquired along with our basic language and socialized behaviours when we were young children and come from some very strong traditions that are part of our societies and our cultures. Law, religion, our family and peer group all tell us what we ought to do, but following these more traditional "oughts" does not necessary constitute a moral life. A great number of people, however, do live long and useful lives without ever consciously defining or systematically considering the values or moral rules that guide their social, personal, and work lives. ...read more.

Middle

And anything which diminishes our ability to make such relationships successful diminishes also our capacity for moral actions." (Williams, 1970, p.109) The moral development of a very young child brings out the interrelation of all ages. One cannot describe the moral development of infants without referring to the moral development of parents and grandparents. "Parenting a child is one of life's great moral adventures, and so is the "childing" of one's parents." (Rubenstein, 1982, p.89) Moral life is shaped by our responses to a pattern of relations. The responses in the relation of adult and child are not equal, but the process can still have a degree of mutuality. We often underestimate the infant's power of receptivity to moral influence. Robert Coles (1997, p. 45) states that character or moral development is an interaction between "nature and nurture", which takes place in a very early age. It develops as a result of parental interaction, balanced discipline styles, and a child's own choices. Children learn about right from wrong from their earliest experiences. When they need nurturing or feeding and parents fulfil that need without excessive indulgence, then children develop characters that accept rules and tolerate frustrations later in life. The infant needs to know that he is "merely a self among other selves, that he is not omnipotent, that other people have need and feelings too." ...read more.

Conclusion

In my own teaching experience I had to face a moral dilemma of whether and to what extent to engage my pupils in consideration of such controversial matters. The breakdown of the former Soviet Union and its dispersal into component parts revitalized an already existing feeling that the Russian nation needed to return to its roots. There was much talk of "the Russian school", and curricular discussion was turned on ways of reinforcing pupils' national identity. People were concerned about the commercialisation of all spheres of activity, the growth of criminality and the fact that the worth of education itself was even called into question. The pupils had questions about who was right and who was wrong, but I didn't have the answers: there was no way of knowing at that time the real impact perestroika and glasnost has had on the country; nor was there a way of knowing the impact these measures will have on the educational system. By the middle of the new century our world will be run by those, who are children today. But the decisions that will affect them before they are old enough to assume leadership will be made by us. As we wonder what kind of leaders they will be based on the powerful forces of violence and hatred, with which they are faced, we must remember that we are in charge today. We, parents and teachers, have the choice of either passing on to them a legacy of peaceful coexistence, or allowing the crisis of violence to increase its own destructive momentum. 1 ...read more.

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