Moral Development and Values Education Sue Walker
Moral development • How and when do children develop an understanding of standards and of right and wrong? • How do interactions with parents and siblings in the family contribute to moral understanding? • How do interactions with teachers and peers contribute to moral understanding? • What can parents and teachers do to nurture children’s moral development?
0 Sense of Morality • Distinguish right from wrong (cognitive component) • Prepared to act accordingly (behavioural component) • How we feel about it (affective component) It is not just prosocial behaviour – sharing, helping It is not just habits of politeness – please, thank you It is not just certain character traits – honesty, generosity
Factors affecting moral development • Cognitive development • Interactions with peers • Use of reasons and rationales • Moral issues and dilemmas • Sense of self
Morality in preschool interaction • What moral values and norms do teachers encourage children to develop? • How do teachers attend to the values that children express in their daily interaction with teachers and peers? • Morality is based on concrete experiences and develops as a result of interactions • Moral situations • Moral values and norms
Promoting moral development • Clarify which behaviours are acceptable and which are not • Engage children in discussion about moral issues • Help children to understand a friend’s emotional feelings • Help children to understand others’ perspectives
“Individuals can realise their potential only within a community. Participation in any community requires knowledge and understanding of its norms, rules, and values” (Katz & McClellan, 1997, p vii).
Values for Australian Schooling • Care and compassion • Care for self and others • Doing your best • Try hard, pursue excellence • Freedom • Enjoy the rights and privileges of Australian citizenship • Honesty and trustworthiness • Be honest, sincere and seek the truth • Integrity • Moral and ethical conduct • Respect • Treat others with consideration and regard • Responsibility • Be accountable for one’s own actions • Understanding, tolerance and inclusion • Be aware of others and their cultures, accept diversity
Educating young children for democracy • What kind of education is most suitable in helping children learn to live in a democracy? • Education for a democracy demands that the individual be recognised • Valuing children’s individuality • Valuing different perspectives and opinions • Nurturing independent critical thinking • Ask questions that have many possible answers • Give children time to think and the resources to investigate (Cincilei, David & Grob, 2000)
Benefits of democratic participatory approaches in early childhood • Children can acquire the ability to: • Trust themselves to make meaningful decisions • Learn to trust others • Assume responsibility for their own actions • Acknowledge their own value by learning that opinions count • Build skill competence and independence • Respect authority • Understand that diversity is to be celebrated • Respect themselves and others • Value a sense of community membership (Erwin & Kipness, 2000)
Promoting democratic values • Allow children to make important decisions that affect the whole group • Encourage children to address real challenges by problem solving and negotiating • Teach children to respect uniqueness and appreciate diversity • Assist children in assuming responsibility for the classroom environment • Respect children’s right to decide how they want to spend their time and with whom • Encourage children to try to do things independently even if they may have difficulty • Teach children that others also have rights
Values for democratic participation • Respect for diversity • Recognition of multiple perspectives • Welcoming curiosity • Critical thinking
religion race language Interests ethnicity age abilities values gender role family composition lifestyle skin colour Respect for diversity
Respect for the environment • “Think globally act locally” • Sustainability in early childhood • context-specific • natural play spaces and bio-diversity • water conservation • compost food scraps • waste reduction (Davis & Pratt, 2005)
Values in ECE • Helping children to develop empathy • Encourage role playing • Help children understand how other people feel • Helping children learn to be generous, altruistic and able to share • Help children learn to share equipment • Help children learn that being kind to others feels good • Helping is one way of expressing kindness (Hendrick & Weissman, 2006)
Values in ECE • Teach children that everyone has rights • …..and that rules apply to everyone • Emphasise the value of cooperation and compromise • Model cooperation and helping behaviour • Teach the art of compromise • Help children discover the pleasure of friendships (Hendrick & Weissman, 2006)
Moral classroom, moral children • Creating a constructivist atmosphere in early care and education • Organising to meet children’s needs • Physiological needs • Emotional needs • Intellectual needs
Constructivist alternatives to discipline • Avoid sanctions/punishments • Encourage children’s ownership of logical consequences • When children suggest a consequence that is too severe, ask the wrongdoer to say how he or she feels (and support this feeling)
Constructivist alternatives cont… • Verbalise the cause-effect relation when natural consequences occur • Selectively allow natural consequences to occur • Offer opportunities for restitution • Avoid indefinite consequences
Conditions for democracy • Supportive conditions – a commitment to and support of democratic participation • The child is viewed as a competent citizen • Parents are seen as competent citizens • Educators are recognised as practitioners of democracy • Time to reflect upon, interpret and evaluate practice (Moss, 2007)
References • Cincilei, C., David, J. & Grob, B. (2000). Changing to a child-centred approach: Teachers reflect on the Moldovan experience. Journal of the International Step by Step Association, 1 (1), 9-13. • Curriculum Corporation (2006). Implementing the national framework for values education in Australian schools. Curriculum Corporation: Carlton South, Vic • Davis, J. & Pratt, R. (2005) The sustainable planet project: Creating cultural change at Campus Kindergarten. Every Child, 11 (4). • Erwin, E.J. & Kipness, N.A. (2000). Fostering democratic values in inclusive early childhood settings. Journal of the International Step by Step Association, 1 (1), 18 – 21. • Hendrick, J. & Weissman, P. (2007). Total learning: Developmental curriculum for young children (7th ed.). Pearson: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. • Moss, P. (2007). Bringing politics into the nursery: Early childhood education as democratic practice. Working Paper 43. Bernard van Leer Foundation: The Hague, The Netherlands.