This essay discusses character education in the 1970’s. The era of the 1970’s saw a return of values education in American schools, but it came back in new forms. The forms it assumed were Carl Rogers’s “values clarification” and Lawrence Kohlberg’s “moral dilemma discussions” (Lickona, 1993).
The era of the 1970’s saw a return of values education in American schools, but it came back in new forms. The forms it assumed were Carl Rogers’s “values clarification” and Lawrence Kohlberg’s “moral dilemma discussions” (Lickona, 1993). Values clarification emphasized that there is no right or wrong; there is only what is right for each individual. Children were allowed the freedom of experiencing a decision-making process in which they could then choose the acceptable behavior for themselves. Furthermore, educators were cautioned against presenting the traditional or their own personal morals to children, because this could influence them toward the adult’s own value system (Jewell, 2002). Likewise, moral reasoning discussions held in classrooms enabled students to think about and judge which values, feelings, ideas, and beliefs were better or worse than others (Lickona).
These two approaches ultimately left students confused, and implied that all questions of right and wrong were individualized, and could always be disputed. In addition, children were being given the opportunity to choose lifestyle behaviors without proper instruction on the choices and their consequences. The development of maturity levels was overlooked as well, in the mistaken belief that the student’s opinion was all that mattered in which choices were the proper ones (Jewell, 2002). Thus, in the latter part of the 20th century, doubt, negativism, and fear dominated the setting for character education.
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