– Some 84% of the parents polled said it was part of the role of a teacher to encourage good morals and values in students
– 81% agreed schools should set out the core values they aimed to instill in students.
– An overwhelming 95% said it was possible to teach a child values and shape their character in a positive way at school through lessons, team-building exercises or voluntary work.
– Among parents who agreed schools should do more than deliver exam results, most said schools had become too exam focused.
Here are key quotes from the article:
“Many schools do not know how to teach character,” said Prof James Arthur, the center’s director.
“They might have a statement of values, but too often they are bland paragraphs that have little impact on what goes on in the classroom.”
Deputy director Tom Harrison added: “We are not saying academic skills are not important – it’s just got out of kilter…. “Clever children are great, but they also need be able to turn up on time and be honest, self-disciplined and respectful in the workplace.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Academic skills are vital but you also need the character to use your knowledge well. Resilience, curiosity, courtesy, initiative – they matter.”
In an age obsessed with high performance on test scores and college/country rankings, it is worth recalling Aristotle’s ideas about moral education. He argues moral habit-forming must be the foundation of anyone’s education. Such formation involves repetition of actions under the guidance of a virtuous role model. As Aristotle states, “we become just by doing just actions, and temperate by doing temperate actions and brave by brave actions [for]…states of character are formed out of corresponding acts.”
After the foundation for moral development is laid, then the student can develop a capacity for broad-minded yet critical thinking and assess the values that he or she has been habituated to accept. The student can now reason about the human good.
To emphasize moral education at school is not to de-emphasize the importance of moral education at home. But since kids spend most of their waking hours at school, to compartmentalize “moral education” for the home seems foolish. It is worth noting that values are already implicitly communicated already by teachers through the classroom rules they set as well as the way they treat students and others. It is a matter then of being intentional and systematic about what kinds of values should be at the heart of an educational institution.