While most parents agree that it is important to teach morals to children, there is no consensus as to what are morals, and how they should be taught to children.

What are moral values?

This is a debate philosophers have been engaged in for centuries, and the Bible’s Ten Commandments, Hammurabi’s Code, Confucius Principles were examples trying to codify moral values for the society.  In short, moral values are a standard set of principles or laws that we all agree on such as “do not lie”, and upon which failure to comply we feel a sense of guilt for breaking the law.

How to teach moral values?

Certainly parents have a major influence on children’s learning moral values, but schools play a large role to as they are reflections of the society the children are living in.  As such the author in the article below presents a few key ideas.

  1. “Moral Formation” is the development of children’s intentions, feelings, and habits within the moral code.  For teacher’s this involves a feedback loop whereby children are recognized and rewarded for good conduct and punished for bad conduct.  Furthermore teachers and parents need to model the behavior because children learn by observing and imitating.
  2. “Moral inquiry” is the active discussion and reflection between adults and children over the nature of moral values that allows children to understand the why behind the moral code.  These sessions should be open-ended exploration without the teacher explicitly stating the moral code, but to facilitate and lead children to arrive at the conclusions themselves.

How to teach children morals

Schools in England are legally required to promote the moral development of pupils. Unfortunately though, there is little agreement on what this involves. Most people recognise that morality is important and needs to be taught – but when it comes to saying what it is and how to teach it, the consensus soon breaks down.