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Trial Answer to Sample Comp Question
& Critical Comments

Edward G. Rozycki, Ed. D.

RETURN
edited 8/10/10

Relevant WebReadings:
Pluralism & Rationality
What is Worth Knowing About Values?
Values Education or Values Confusion?
Islamic Moral Education

Ethical Issues in Education

 

 

 

 

Higher Education Foundations Question #5
What should the place of values education be in the curriculum? Is it possible to give appropriate guidance to students concerning values issues without merely indoctrinating them? Should the focus of values education be on rules of correct behavior (as for example Kant thought), or on character development (as for example Aristotle hold)? Consider specifically the difficulties that American multiculturalism poses for values education.

Trial Response to Question
Critical Comments
A. In order to discuss the place of values education in the school curriculum, it is important to come to agreement on what is meant by "values." There are two kinds of values - one being moral which carries the obligation to be honest and fair, the other being nonmoral which is not obligatory and expresses our likes such as music.

A.Interesting beginning; however, you ought to explore the consequences of your definition. Is it possible that you have overlooked certain kinds of values: logically - according to what you have set up - you have two types: a. moral values which carry the obligation to be honest and fair; and b. other kinds which you call non-moral values.
First of all, aren't honesty and fairness values in an of themselves? Are they moral values? Here your formulation confuses because it seems strange to say that honesty as a moral value carries with it the obligation to be honest and fair. Similarly with fairness. But if honesty and fairness are not moral values, then you have a definition that requires the obligation to non-moral values as a condition to being a moral value. Do you want this?

Perhaps the problem is in the locution, "carries with it" . Do you mean by this, "is a necessary condition (of some kind)? Are there values distinct from honesty and fairness that one can pursue without being honest or fair, yet which are moral values? Your definition seem to indicate not. But what about, for example, kindness, forgiveness, piety, concern, tact, concern for a personÕs feelings. Are these moral values? Certainly they can be held by persons who do not value honesty and fairness highly. What do you make of them?

B. When we look at moral values, we can think about nonuniversal moral values where an individual may feel a serious obligation but not impose that on others (such as religion);. B. Here you bring up "feeling obligation" as opposed, I would suppose, to "actually having an obligation." You also bring up the issue of imposition on others, with the historically inaccurate characterization of religion being one of those values not to be imposed on others. Or is this your position, i.e. that religion should not be imposed on others? It is not clear. In any case, developing reasons why religion should not be imposed is a distraction from the task of addressing the examination question.

C. ... or universal moral values

C. Are moral values always universal?. You suggest not, otherwise you would not modify the noun, "values", with the adjective, "universal."
D. ...where an individual treats others justly and with respect, and takes responsibility for his/her actions.

D. Now you bring in "treating people with respect." Is this an additional condition? Looks also like "takes responsibility for his/her actions" is another. This is getting confusing, and off-track.

E. In looking at the curriculum, universal moral values education should be included for several reasons. One reason is that it...

E. Do you mean by "it" the inclusion of universal moral values"?

F. ...can help students become responsible individuals. One of the reasons students attend school is to help them learn how to be independent, accountable citizens in our democratic society. In order to help them become responsible individuals, the curriculum needs to include ways for students to learn about responsibility..

F. Why is it the school's responsibility via the curriculum? Isn't it dependent on whether the school can, if fact, inculcate moral values in some fair and cost-effective way? (Note that I wrote "inculcate." The verb "teach" is very ambiguous here. (See the referred to articles above.)

G. Furthermore, teaching moral values in school will help students when they are out in the workforce. Students will learn how to treat others with respect and will be able to work with other individuals in our society in a considerate manner. A third reason to include moral values education in the curriculum is to help students become law-abiding individuals in the community.

G. You have skipped past the important issue of possibility and are now giving instrumental reasons for teaching values. I don't think the debate is about the long term desirable consequences. It is more focussed on whether the school, given its constraints and resources can do even a mediocre job of teaching values.

H. Dr. Thomas Lickona, an international authority on moral development and education, states that responsibility is an extension of respect..

H. That Lickona is held to be an international authority is not a support for your argument. This maneuver, called in rhetoric, "Appeal to Authority" brings your exposition under suspicion.

I. He notes that schools feel compelled to get involved in values education because of poor parenting skills, increase of violent and sexual crimes committed by young people, and the focus on materialism and greed in our society. These elements encourage young people to break rules to gain access to more money.
Some of the ways teachers can give appropriate guidance to students concerning values issues is by setting a good example, supporting good behavior and correcting hurtful actions. On a daily basis, teachers enforce rules, exercise self-control and show respect for others. Allowing students to be part of the decision-making process and sharing responsibilities, teachers can also encourage students to be respectful and responsible individuals.
I. This may, in fact, work. But what also about the claims by many that schools teach undesirable values, e.g. hypocrisy, sneakiness, insincerity, pompousness, timidity, self-hatred, etc.?
J. The focus of values education can be a mixture of (1) rules concerning correct behavior and (2) character development. Character development includes ... J. Is this intended as a definition, or normal characterization of "character development." Did Adolph Hitler have no character, or bad character? Or did he do evil despite his having good character?
K. ... knowledge of moral awareness, moral reasoning, moral values, decision-making, and self-knowledge. It also includes moral feeling, which involves conscience, self-esteem, empathy, loving the good, self-control and humility. In order for schools to be run in an orderly fashion, rules must be enforced. Students need to be fully aware of the correct behavior ... K.It seems that you are using the word "fully" as a hedge against the criticism that a students may have all the characteristics you mention earlier, yet be involved in "chaos." This is not a legitimate manouver for an analytic essay -- it generally works, however, in political speeches.
L. .... to prevent chaos and encourage a learning environment. L.Be careful with connecting character to environmental results. This comes close to being an unjustified empirical claim that good character produces good results. (What about unlucky or tragic figures?) Or else your claim is a surreptitious definition of "good character" as " that kind of character that produces good results."
M. However, if students do not have character development involving moral values, the rules will be unproductive. Over the years, our schools have changed with a variety of students coming from many different backgrounds. The values they have or have not learned at home may vary immensely. Because of the many different cultures, students may look at values education from a different perspective. However, teachers, administrators, and educators in general, should be made aware of the differences, so that when they are considerate of the students' backgrounds. M.This insinuates that teachers, etc. agree on a common set of values. Is this true?
N. Dr. Licoma (spelling!) notes that transmitting values is and always has been the work of civilization. He states that the schools' role as moral educators become even more important at a time when millions of children get little moral teaching at home and when value-centered influences (such as church or temple) are absent from their lives. He believes there is a broad-based, growing support for values education in our schools. (This would be a good opening paragraph.) N. None of Lickona's beliefs address the basic issue of possibility: Can schools - given the constraints on resources and possible treatments - inculcate values in any uniform and desirable way? If you were to point this or similar points out, it would make an acceptable essay. But don't just leave it hanging with unsupported opinion and overlooked issues. I think the basic problem with this response is that you are not addressing the question, but instead using this as a platform for your own personal perspective. Unless you have an especially well-developed position demonstrably related to the literature - whether supporting or contradicting it -AND you are very precise in your exposition and argument, you would do best to begin with a recognized position, such as Lickona's and develop your response to the question from there. Basically, you have addressed the exam question in reverse.

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