Publication 7063

Cummings R. & Harlow S. (2000) The constructivist roots of moral education. The Educational Forum 64(4): 300–307. Fulltext at https://cepa.info/7063
Excerpt: The public schools are at the center of a national debate over the need to provide children with moral education. However, discussions about how to achieve such a goal are controversial because there is no agreement about exactly what behaviors are moral and ethical (Duncan 1997; Foshay 1996; Huffman 1995; Lasle y and Biddle 1996). The contents of moral education programs are as di verse as the philosophies and beliefs of those who design and implement them (Berreth and Berman 1997; Cline and Necochea 1996; Field 1996; Kurtines and Gewirtz 1984; Martin 1995; Page 1995; Wynne and Ryan 1993). Furthermore, most viewpoints on moral education reflect public and popular opinion, which fluctuates based upon cultural pendulum swings “pushed by the winds of political and social change” (Kirschenbaum 1995, 7). In short, public education “has a problem with faddism” (Kirschenbaum 1995, 7). If we are to avoid faddism in moral education programs, then we must ground such programs in research-validated theory (Goldman 1996; Wynne 1989). Jean Piaget’s (1997) constructivist theory of the development of moral reasoning in children holds prom~se as a foundation for moral education. Piaget’s description of children’s cognitive development through four stages is well-known, but his investigations of children’s moral reasoning in their interpersonal relationships are less familiar, though potentially as significant (Wadsworth 1996).

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