Long gone are the days when church and state were combined as an amalgamation of conceptual teachings- where all parts of society were analyzed at an angle of religion and secularism.
With this separation of church and state came the birth of freedom of opinion and speech and the freedom of religion alongside it.
However, many important aspects of religion that were taught explicitly became uncertain and ambiguous concepts that began to slither away into nonexistence, no longer visible or applicable in daily lives.
The lack of formal moral education in schools seems to be an inherent flaw, and yet, the same time, a complex phenomenon where societal expectations expect students to grow up with flawless and impeccable moral demeanor, yet do next to nothing to take the time out to explain to students what morals actually are.
The closest most subjects get to a moral education is perhaps the teaching of literature. Literary concepts, themes and deeper meanings behind texts explored by classrooms, characters observed and analyzed for their actions and the consequences thereof- all in a waypoint towards a type of morality and can be deemed a type of indirect moral education.
But is this indirect method enough?
With complaints from experts and researchers, teachers and parents- each generation is moving further and further away from the morality of behavior, of conduct and speech, of actions. Whatever stems of manners and good conduct that seem to still exist are trickled down versions of school taught moral education, now only reinforced by the more moral bound households.
This indirect method, though subliminally implied in various areas throughout the curriculum that seems to be doing the job of keeping society’s forthcoming generations from skidding down a complete downhill.
However, it is imperative that teachers and administrations make the initiative to incorporate moral education formally and explicitly into students every-day curricula.
Here are a few ways moral education can be incorporated into curricula:
An elective Course on Morals and Values
Perhaps an age-old method to incorporate any seemingly important skill to middle and high school students, introducing an elective course on the formal study of morals and values can be incorporated.
In this way, students above grade six can learn what specific values are, examples in history of people taking part in such actions, and the positive outcomes from such behaviors.
School-wide administrative program
There are a couple of caveats with teaching moral education as an elective. First of all, it cannot be taught to elementary schoolers- which is the most critical age for incorporating any skill that one wishes to be evident for the most of the entirety of their lifespans. Second of all, elective courses can make a subject matter too academic to be applied in real life.
For these reasons, different schools can establish detailed rewards and consequence systems and programs that students take part in. Different schools can take different approaches and get creative- students can be divided into Hogwarts style houses and earn and lose points for acts of humanity and respectively, breaking rules.
It is true that such a program can be masked as a simple justice system of rules and regulations, consequences and punishments as all schools must have in their administrative policy. However, a moral education program can be introduced separately as a way to promote good values, manners, and the ways in which it can benefit a community.
Spotlight Values and Assemblies
As a tool that can be used hand in hand with school-wide administrative programs, schools can assign a spotlight value or manner for every month and have an assembly to formally discuss and address this manner.
Students can be offered prizes for taking part in school-wide events that incorporate those values. Teachers can enforce these values within their classrooms and incorporate it into lesson plans as well! In addition, the administration can create a wall dedicated to these values so that updates can be posted throughout the month for students to follow up on!
The Question of Moral Education
The question of the value of moral education comes down to the understanding of the purpose of education itself. Education is, in essence, the means and tools one gains in the hopes of living a successful life- whether the skills are formally taught or implicitly learned as values.
In the end, no matter how education is framed, there is no doubt that morality is one of the key driving features of a society, that can make or break a person, a state, or a nation.
It is imperative that administrations, teachers, and boards of education shift some focus onto the importance of moral education, as a way to direct and usher the next generations towards a better tomorrow that they can lead with confidence and morality.