27 SES 14 B, Ethics, Religion and Welfare Education
Recent research literature endorsed that teaching ethics influences pupils’ behaviour (Bartholdsson, 2007; Battistich 2003; Richardson and Fenstermacher 2001; Trisiana, 2015). For this reason, this paper focuses on ethical theories, teaching approaches and resources for teaching ethics. Concerning the theory framework, this paper initially presents the prime normative ethical theories which can potentially be discussed in a primary school classroom and major approaches to teach ethics. The ethical theories discussed are consequentialism (main advocates: Bentham, 1789/1961; Mill, 1861/1998), deontology (Kant, 1785/1988), and virtue theory (Aristotle, 1984). To explore these theories in the classroom, appropriate teaching resources are needed. We hypothesised that fairy tales are a suitable resource for teaching ethics to young students in primary school. Therefore, we investigated whether there are fairy tales that can motivate discussion about the aforementioned ethical theories or not.
These ethical theories can be usually taught in class by following one of the three major approaches: cognitive-developmental approach (Piaget, 1932/1965; Kohlberg, 1981; Power & Higgins & Kohlberg, 1989), character education (Durkheim, 1925; Lockwood, 1997; Bennett, 1991; Kilpatrick, 1993), and values clarification (Raths & Harmin & Simon, 1966; Prakash, 1988). The cognitive-developmental approach focuses on the development of moral judgement and discussion of moral dilemmas. The teacher encourages students to follow universal moral principles. Character education emphasises the importance of developing the character of children by teaching virtues and traits explicitly and directly. The aim of values clarification is for the children to clarify what they value and to make their own choices, evaluate alternatives, think about their consequences, publicly affirm them and act upon them. The teacher must always be neutral and not reveal what his beliefs are.
Despite the significance of teaching ethics, there is not any known research which investigates whether and if yes, how ethics are taught in primary schools in Greece and Cyprus. Thus, we decided to explore ways of teaching ethics in these two countries.
Concerning the first research question, we searched for fairy tales that match each normative ethical theory. Particularly, we identified characters in the fairy tales who face ethical dilemmas or act in a way which fits the actions supported by the theories. Concerning the second research question, we conducted empirical research. To explore whether and if yes, how ethics are taught in primary schools, we conducted semi-structured interviews with six teachers from Greece and Cyprus to discover their education approaches to teach ethics. Specifically, do these teachers aim to teach ethics in the classroom? If yes, do these teachers advocate teaching virtues and moral principles as a set of rules or as a negotiation and which are their arguments to justify their decision between the two options? What material and teaching techniques do they use to achieve their goals? The interview protocol comprised five open-ended questions which asked the teachers’ views concerning ethics education. The authors visited schools in areas close to their homes, and interviews were conducted after the consent of the interviewees and the principals of the schools. Participants volunteered to participate. All participants are permanent teachers of primary schools and teach subject areas that are usually used for ethics education (e.g., Greek, History). Four female and two male teachers were interviewed. Four of the teachers are from Cyprus and two are from Greece. All the teachers had at least 10 years of teaching experience. All interviews were one-on-one, audio taped and transcribed without mentioning any personal identifier. The authors analysed the transcripts to discover which views about ethics education were raised.
This paper presents appropriate resources to stimulate discussion for each ethical theory in primary school classrooms. The fairy tales presented are written or translated in English, so they can be used by wider audience. We discuss how each character demonstrates actions that are suggested by normative ethical theories. Moreover, the paper presents the results of the interviews. Teachers in Greece and Cyprus were found to teach ethics and the interviews highlighted specific teaching methods and educational material. The teachers in our sample perceived and defined ethics differently; some of them had views similar to virtue theory and some of them were closer to utilitarianism. However, no one mentioned any idea close to Kant’s deontology. This means that the teachers either focus on virtues and character education (Aristotle) or on adjustment of ethical behaviour and the evaluation of the situation based on the consequences (Utilitarianism). Even though some interviewees have views which are similar to those theories, they didn’t refer explicitly to any of them. The curriculums of Greek and Cypriot primary schools don’t refer explicitly to the teaching of the aforementioned normative ethical theories. However, the interviews highlighted two different models for teaching ethics: direct and indirect, which are explained in this paper.
•Aristotle. (1984) ‘Nicomachean ethics’ (edited by W. D. Ross, revised by J. O. Urmson, trans.), in: J. Barnes (ed.) The complete works of Aristotle: The revised Oxford translation, vol. 2. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press. •Bartholdsson, A. (2007) Med facit i hand: Normalitet, elevskap och vanlig maktutovning i tva svenska skolor [Having the Correct Answer: Normality, Pupils and Benevolent Government in Two Swedish schools]. Stockholm, HLS forlag. •Battistich, V. (2003) ‘Effects of a school-based program to enhance prosocial development on children's peer relations and social adjustment’, Journal of Research in Character Education, 1 (1). pp. 1-17. •Bennett, W. J. (1991) ‘Moral literacy and the formation of character’, in: J. Benninga (ed.) Moral character and civil education in the elementary school. New York, Teachers College Press, pp. 128-137. •Bentham, J. (1789/1961) An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Garden City, Doubleday. •Durkheim, E. (1925) Moral education: A study in the theory and application of the sociology of education. New York, Free Press. •Kant, I. (1785/1988) Fundamental principles of the metaphysics of morals (T. K. Abbott, Trans.). Buffalo, NY, Prometheus Books. •Kilpatrick, W. (1993) Why Johnny can’t tell right from wrong: Moral literacy and the case for character education. New York, Simon & Schuster. •Kohlberg, L. (1981) Essays on moral development: Vol. 1, The philosophy of moral development: the nature and validity of moral stages. San Francisco, Harper & Row. •Lockwood, A. (1997) Character education: Controversy and Consensus. London, Corwin Press/Sage. •Mill, J. S. (1861/1998) Utilitarianism, (ed.) R. Crisp. New York, Oxford University Press. •Piaget, J. (1932/1965) The moral judgment of the child, (M. Gabain, trans.). New York, The Free Press •Power, F. C., Higgins, A., and Kohlberg, L. (1989). Lawrence Kohlberg’s approach to moral education. New York: Columbia University Press. •Prakash, M. S. (1988) ‘‘Desires’ Clarified, Much of ‘Value’: A Plea for Values Clarification’, Journal of Moral Education, 17 (2). pp. 114-126. •Raths, L.E., Harmin, M., and Simon, S.B. (1966) Values and Teaching: Working with Values in the Classroom. Columbus Ohio, Merrill. •Richardson, V., and Fenstermacher, G. D. (2001) ‘Manner in teaching: the study in four parts’, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 33 (6). pp. 631-637. •Trisiana, A. (2015) ‘Action for citizenship education of character education using project citizen model at senior high school in Indonesia’, International Journal of Education and Psychology in the Community, 5 (1 & 2). pp. 42-53.
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