Facilitating the Process of Moral Exploration

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Facilitating the Process of Moral Exploration

Postby meggi-30975 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:25 am

Before and when I first joined the Contemporary Foundations of Learning, knowledge, to me, is product of reasoning. Every second, we import information through different modes and from various sources such as personal experience or third parties. These inputs of information are cognitively processed and filtered with the reference to pass experience and prior knowledge to become new “justified true beliefs”. Thus, knowledge acquisition is a new-information- producing process which involves three distinct sub-processes: collection of raw information, reasoning, and judgment making. For example, after getting the raw information from an article on the topic of values and happiness which states that value-based happiness lasts longer than pleasure-based happiness, one may start to reason by recalling the feeling one experienced at a moment when one was lying on the beach to enjoy the beauty of nature and at the other moment when one cycled a 40 kilometer-distance everyday to see mom in hospital. One now really feels the happiness of seeing mum lying on the bed, look at him and smile happily. One starts to compare the two kinds of happiness. Then, judgment is made, and the new information is that the statement that “value-based happiness lasts longer than pleasure-based happiness” is true. As long as the new information and the old one coincide, the belief is justified true.

However, since my Contemporary Foundations of Learning classes have been going on with 30-minute time excess every day and endless discussion on every single new topic, my personal epistemology has been more or less changed. Every one may have their own system of beliefs. These beliefs are based on other beliefs and may cause the other beliefs. Different systems of beliefs may share some identical beliefs and have different, unique ones. This indicates that knowledge is not always universally-shared belief, so knowledge cannot only be acquired by transmission. Reasoning is also a human-created concept. It is a name given to a process of human’s mind which is still a secret to its owner. Knowledge is, therefore, an undiscoverable truth, and knowledge acquisition is a knowing- process rather than a fact of knowing-that. For example, the statement that “value-based happiness lasts longer than pleasure-based happiness” may be an undiscoverable truth, but making the inquiry whether or not value-based happiness lasts longer than pleasure-based happiness and pursuing an explanation is the process of knowing.

With this change in my personal epistemology, I now find “teaching values” , “helping students to construct values”, and “facilitating the process of exploring values” are different concepts in moral education. “Teaching values” is imposing moral norms of a social group, a community, or a nation on individuals. There is little cognitive and rational thinking involved in this product-based learning. “Helping students to construct values” may emphasize more on process than product. However, there are two possibilities. One is that students are assisted to construct their own values, while the other is that students are helped to construct pre-determined values. The former promotes moral autonomy and is individual-centric, while the later gives students certain room for cognitive and rational thinking. Thus, “helping students to construct values” is either to foster individual moral valuing or to transmit social codes. I prefer “facilitating the process of exploring values” to “teaching values” and “helping students to construct values”. The two later concepts have much to do with the assumption that “values” are “justified true beliefs” or products of learning, while the former is based on the belief that morality is the outcome of the organic relationship between individuals and social settings. This interaction is a continuous process, so the outcome is also a never-ending process of moral exploration.

From my point of view, facilitating the process of exploring values should be a challenging task. Moral educationalists need to break out of well-established and well-defined constraints to tailor a new conceptual synthesis. The totality of atmospheric forces and multi-dimensional interactions is crucial for the process of moral exploration and development. The child, family, class, school, and community are all active agents in this process. It is important that the child actually participates in moral dialectic process where various moral deliberation activities are involved. Schools and families should cooperate to organize free-time activities, family events, and weekend and holiday programs for students, and these events should be considered to be an important part of the total educational planning of the schools. Also, the dynamics of the class as a social group plays an important role. Teaching and learning should be seen as a dialogue of relationships. Teachers should create a safe environment for students to talk, to communicate, to play roles, to improve their interpersonal skills, and to explore their values. Students should be encouraged to talk about and consider their own value concerns by teachers’ well-designed learning activities. Teachers should inspire their students in expressing their own opinions and ideas about the values and should never control their thoughts. Teachers also should empower students to actively take part in the process of moral reasoning, developing learning materials, inventing classroom activities, and, after all, improving curricula. Formal curricula and extra curricula should be combined harmoniously to promote a total atmosphere for moral exploration. They should provide a system of educational experiences that first inspire students in the activities of their interests and then present them with desired modes of moral reflection. Moral education textbooks should not be totally responsible for students’ moral development. The integrations of different disciplines or school subjects including philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, literature, art, cinema, and educational practice should also be actively involved. The study of philosophy may help students to develop the necessary traits and abilities to engage in the moral reasoning process. Science and history are the two important curricular areas for moral growth, since they are about life of facts, and they enable students to truly confront and understand these facts. Literature works about the experience of different values are believed to promote students’ support for these values. School-based projects can produce a systematic body of teaching and learning materials for moral curriculum. Whole-school approach has great potential for the active participation of school members in the process of moral reasoning and exploration and for affecting moral growth. The role of moral community in the process of moral education is also very crucial. A caring moral community will help to develop moral sense and nurture moral growth.

In conclusion, facilitating moral exploration process means creating a rich and effective environment for the active participation of all moral agents including the child, family, class, school, and community in the social interactions as natural forces that enable the child to grow naturally and morally.

PS: http://moraleducationhere.blogspot.com/ ... ology.html

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