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Moral Education




"The truest test of civilization is not the census, nor
the size of cities, nor the crops; no, but the kind of man
the country turns out."

Cochrane Publishing Company

Tribune Buihiing

New York


Copyright, 1910, by
Cochrane Publishing Co.


Partly in response to the demand for more defmite
moral education, this is otfered as an aid in such a iHrec-

It has been written partly in accordance with theory,
and partly from practice and observation, and needs the
further test of practice. Owing to interfering circum-
stances the writer is unable to give this further test,
and offers the work just as it is.

Mr. Horace Mann, I believe, has said that as far as
gtiaranteed by his observation, ten men fail from moral
defect to one who fails from intellectual defect, ami
if this is the case, together with the tendency shown
by the evident growing desire for better moral education,
then there is both the expressed need and wish for the
latter. If, too. Mr. John Dewey's statement that "What
the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that
must be the community's want for all of its children."
includes detailed training in morals and manners, this
is another evidence of its need.

In systematic moral training it is desirable that as far
as possible it should be put upon the same scientific
basis as other branches of learning — taught according
to the laws of psychology and education.

A knowledge of the laws of modern psychology
makes it possible to give younger children teaching
through making the proper mental suggestion interest-

The ideas to be developed and applied are given in a
variety of forms — some are the ordinary ethical teach-
ing'i. others are proverbs, practical maxims, and so
forth. Since it is not desired to interfere with run


4 .\1( )RAI. I'.DlcA riOX

religious convictions, llic moral teachings taken from re-
ligious sources are those which are essentially ethical. A
number of the elements of common law are to some
extent as given by Mr. Francis Wayland in his "Ele-
ments of Moral Science." As may be seen, there is little
new to add to ethical teachings themselves — the impor-
tant ones have already been given. The further consid-
eration is to bring about a better understanding of the
necessity for obedience to them, and a better obedience
where necessary.

Moral teaching forms part of general government —
that through education and prevention, and this being
so, the consequent need is for the proper teaching and
supervision of all children. It is a duty also toward the
rights of the individual as well as toward those of society
as a whole.

The suggestions and teachings given are suitable for
the use of parents and other teachers of children.

Among educational works which may be read by
those not desiring a general course of study, are Joseph
Payne's "Lectures on the Science and Art of Education,"
Froebel's "Education of Man," Winterburn's "Nursery
Ethics," James' "Talks to Teachers on Psychology," and
that part of Hudson's "Law of Psychic Phenomena"
which treats of suggestion.

A special preparation for teaching morals would re-
quire at least an academic education, including physiology
and h3-giene, and in addition a further knowledge of
education and general psychology, with the study of
society, including principles of social development, politi-
cal economy, the history of art, religion, and ethics, with
the natural history of the latter.

In literature may be read :

The best religious and ethical teachings ;


Dante — The Divine Comedy;

Homer — The Ihad ;

Sophocles — Antigone ;

Shakespeare ;

-\Iihon — First six books of Paradise Lost;

Larned — A Muhitude of Counsellors;

Alodern poetry — extracts ;

Such social literature as fiction ;

Current events and science, and so forth.

A certain amount of general knowledge is necessary
from the fact that various branches of knowledge affect
the knowledge of other branches.

In general literature individual choice may to some ex-
tent decide, as it is not desirable to have too great fixed-
ness and imiformity in required knowledge.

It is hardly necessary to say that those who teach
morals should be persons of the best principles, as well
as of breadth of mind and sympathy, unprejudiced, and
as far as possible those who possess natural taste and fit-
ness for such work.

Moral Education


One of the principles of education may be expressed as
being the fact that the mind has its natural growth or
development when the knowledge that it contains is the
product of its own action upon the facts presented to it,
or is founded upon such action upon the part of others,
just as natural physical growth is the product of the action
of the inner forces upon physical food.

Experience or observation being the general founda-
tion of knowledge, the foundation of moral knowledge
would be, therefore, no statements or precepts, but the
observation or experience of conduct, developing what is
right and what is wrong. Through parents' or instructors'
guifling a child's observation by means of questioning,
the moral precept should thus come from the child him-
self. The golden rule, for example, would not be given
to a child as a tradition, but, through the directing of his
observation and reasoning, be made a part of his own
thinking — one of his own conclusions. A child lias natur-
ally, from contact with parents and companions, a small
stock of ideas based upon his own observation, and that
is actually his own, although it may be distorted by self-
interest. As with education in general, he should not be
hindered by being told what under ordinary circum-
stances he should be able to perceive for himself. Just as
lack of exercise and proper food will dwarf his bodily
growth, so lack of observation and reasoning, with lack
of material for mental and moral growth, must tend to


duarl the growth of his iniiul and character. Definite
moral education, by bringing the moral element in con-
duct to attention, should tend to cause more habitual
consideration for it.

As learning proceeds from the concrete to the abstract,
from the known to the unknown, a child should, from the
foundation of his own experience and observation, be
led to the better comprehension of and obedience to
moral teachings in general, without being obliged to learn
by experience that might cost him very dearly.

His training in the beginning should be according to
the best standards, as poor beginnings here as elsewhere
are detriments in themselves.

Many moral rules are general, and children need help
in applying them. Wherever possible, the application of
the general principles of morals should be taken into the
details of conduct, and not only into slight matters, but
into great affairs.

Stating the intellectual processes in a general way as
perception, reason, feeling and will, terminating in choice
and action, either in thought or outward contluct, it fol-
lows that moral education must consist in bringing before
the mind material for perception from the moral stand-
point, in cultivating a habit of correct and unprejudiced
reasoning to conclusions ; in reasoning, encouragement,
and discipline where suitable, in the matter of execution
or practice. Another part is, through the presentation of
good examples, to inspire, as is expressed in the follow-
ing: "But virtue, by the bare statement of its actions
can so affect men's minds as to create at once both ad-
miration of the thing done and desire to imitate the doers
of them."

Applying to the individual a method which is seen to
have been applied to the race during its earlier stages
of development, authoritative prohibition or warning is


needed for moral teaching during the individual's earlier
stages of growth. With older children, those who have
reached a stage of reason, the reasoning in connection
with the principles should tend to give the proper com-
prehension and love of good, and as far as possible the
consequent will to put it into practice. This is e.xpres.sed
in the following: "Proper conditions are better guaran-
teed when the good or evil consequences of actions are
rationally understood than when they are simply believed
upon authority."

In the introduction of the formal teachings of morals,
as to another study, it should be shown why it is under-
taken — its value and necessity, its relationship to individ-
ual and social welfare. Morality, and moral teaching an:l
training, should be shown as means and not as ends.
Such teaching is to create the necessary regulative ele-
ment for conduct — to aid in cultivating, toward great
and small affairs, the right spirit, of which right conduct
and other conditions are the natural consequences. It is
to promote thoughtfulness and considerateness, the lack
of which, as well as wrong motive, may cause harm. It
is to promote moral self-activity. The necessity of learn-
ing in the beginning what is right and wrong, not only
to promote the welfare of others and self, but to avoid
the punishments which may come from ignorance, should
be taught, and that such teaching upon the part of elders
is a duty toward every child. The various forms of re-
ward and punishment for right and wrong conduct
should be shown, the nature of arbitration for the re-
dress of grievances, the facts which may modify judg-
ment, the nature of prevention and cure, the element of
reparation, or undoing of wrong, and that of suitability
of the remedy to the cause and nature of the offense.

The meaning of the words "principles." "character."

10 MoKAi. i-:i)i'c.\'riox

"conscience," "motive"' and "habit, " and the duties in
connection with these factors, may be taught.

In questioning as to right and wrong courses of con-
duct, the imagination may be led to conceive the state of
affairs resulting from the general ])ractice of each : for
example, to picture the state of society if every one
redressed his own wrongs, hated, robbed, and killed his
neighbor if he chose, was indolent, untruthful, unjust,
unkind, rude, and so forth; and on the other hand to
picture a state of affairs where opposite circinnstances
])revail. It should be shown that even in individual cases
wrong conduct is socially destructive, and that the oppo-
site conduct is constructive. The consequent duty of
each to self, each to all, all to each, and the rights of
others, as judged by the rights desired for self, should
be considered — the necessity of morality for the common

From examples as varied and interesting as possible,
the truth, precept or knowledge may be derived or im-
pressed; then both through varied theoretical applications
an:l through actual practice where suitable, be expressed
by the children themselves. This, for younger children,
should give good suggestion in an interesting form. Such
examples should include illustrations of the truth that
knowledge of what is right is only a part of right — that
morality consists in its execution.

The variety of forms in which tlie truths are presented
to them, and which is necessary both for ]:)ro\)er interest
and in order to reach the different types of mind, may be
given as in other studies, as for instance stories read with
the moral action left blank to be filled out by pupils. In
such cases not the exact wor(!s or facts, which with un-
familiar matters cannot be known, but the spirit of the
action, should be regarded. Each child should as far as
possible be required to give an opinion, not only to be


certain that he has exercised his mind, but that the nature
of his decisions may be known.

In presenting what may be termed a moral problem,
requiring children to say what they think is right, why to
their minds it is so, the causes, direct or indirect, the
effects known or possible, and so forth, there should, in
using attractive instances, be not alone greater interest
but greater insight. In matters involving the application
of principles with which the children are familiar, they
should as much as possible be required to solve the
problem without outer help, just as with mathematical
principles. In presenting a case that is afterward left
for later solution, the anticipation of having the answer
demanded should keep the matter before the attention
for a longer time, but this should not lead to co]iying,
without thinking for self, the answers of others. Cniess-
ing, in the sense of speaking without thought, should be
discouraged, and preference given to those who give evi-
dence of right spirit and consideration. It may some-
times not be possible for children to grasp the particular
idea, and it should then be told them, but not until they
have made the effort to think, and have cfjncentratel
their interest and attention upon it. Where it is wished,
conclusions may be put into the form of known (juota-
tions expressing them, and in this way hel]) be given
toward the understanding of moral truth as si)okcn an 1
written by others. The memorizing of such is also val
uable. In many fairy tales, too, which ])elong particul;irl\
to childhood, there is a moral teaching win'rh slionM be
brought to observation.

Children's different ideas .should be heard and di.s
cussed, not alone as adding to the general interest, but
for the benefit of teacher as well as pupils, for as is
known, there is much to be learned from chihhcn tlu in

12 MORAL I'.DrcA'nox

In some cases children may require individual teach-
ing at times, in order to impress ideas when tlTcre are no
distracting outer influences.

Where interest is especially desirable it is well to re-
member that children are fond of stories expressive of
action, but the exclusive use of such should be avoide

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Online LibraryAnna Graham FlackMoral education → online text (page 1 of 5)