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Teachers' conceptions of morality and moral education.

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posted on 19.11.2015, 09:16 by Janet Watson
The central purpose of this study was to explore the ideas about the nature of morality, moral development and moral education of a sample of teachers. In order to interpret these ideas a brief account is given of the main ethical theories held by philosophers and the main psychological theories of moral development. 90 teachers from 57 different schools were given a lengthy interview and completed a questionnaire. The interview consisted of Kohlberg's Moral Judgment Interview with further ethical questions. The questionnaire consisted of open questions on moral development and moral education. The MJI was scored according to Kohlberg's current scoring procedure. Other questions were content analysed. Frequencies and interrelationships between variables were calculated using analyses of variance, correlation coefficients and factor analyses. Among the results, 59% of teacher's were reasoning at Stage 3/4 on Kohlberg's stage scores. Women and science teachers scored significantly lower than the other teachers, as did teachers who stressed discipline and social training as the essence of moral education. Evidence of distinctive ethical philosophies was sought in the teachers' thinking. Most teachers seemed to give expression to a number of apparently conflicting views. However, there was some tendency for two factors, one labelled objective/subjective and the other labelled individual/social to emerge with some clarity. These and other findings suggested that teachers had done very little thinking in this area and were considerably confused. However, there was good evidence that the interview itself was an important learning experience indicating their potential for principled reasoning in Kohlberg's sense. A strong impression from the data was the personal moral commitment of teachers, and their recognition of the importance of moral education in school. It is plain, however, that in-service courses are urgently needed if the concern of teachers is to be realised in school life.


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University of Leicester

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