Teaching Moral Science

Moral science is taught as a subject in most schools. Not always with a great deal of effectiveness. Perhaps, part of the problem lies in the fact that morality is not a science, strictly speaking. It is too much of a social phenomenon and there is too much of the personal and subjective mixed within, for it to be taught as a rational science.

Besides, morality itself changes down the generations and there is little point speaking of a fixed syllabus to teach from an approved book.

I remember sitting through forty minutes of moral lessons, which told stories about little children who never told lies and were rewarded for their goodness. It had little impact though. And I cannot recall even one lesson or story from those days.

Moral science (and preferably all subjects), if it has to be dealt with as a subject in schools, needs a participatory approach. When you tell a child about morals, you also have to deal with social norms and cultural differences. You have to explain that morality can be subjective, but to be able to co-exist in society, you will probably have to adhere to the currently prevailing morals.

The best way to tell a child how to live is to show him or her what is valued. If a child likes his friend, you have to make the child think why. Once the child notices and recognizes goodness in others, he or she is likely to develop it as well.

In fact, most of the morals that children learn, they learn by watching people around them. They absorb behavior patterns from teachers and older students. They watch to see what is rewarded and who is punished. They learn on the sports field and through social work. Moral science lessons should simply consist of letting them live and interact, and watch you uphold correct values and reward good behavior.

Author Annie Zaidi. Copyright 2004. indianchild.com

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