Should schools teach about morality and democracy?

***UPDATE: Something is kind of weird about the poll plugin I used for this blog, so on fixing it, I accidently deleted the previous poll answers (Only 2 for “Yes they should teach both”). FYI, for this poll plugin, you click the answer you want, and it WILL record. If it doesn’t show up, refresh the page and it will be there.***

Earlier today, I was reading an article I found via Twitter about if schools should teach morality and democracy. The author, Stanford Education Professor Eamonn Callan, recently did a Q&A where he explored the idea a bit. It’s a great piece overall 1, but this one section in particular really struck me as valuable:

Can the nation be mobilized to address the problem of climate change? How can good (much less equal) educational opportunities be made available to the millions of American children who currently do not have them?  Will we be able to contain the threat of terrorism without a steady erosion of civil liberties? How can the international influence of America be used to keep faith with democratic values in a world where they are commonly under threat or violently opposed? Although the priority of items on the list might be contested, what does not admit reasonable disagreement is this: without a public that deliberates about such questions thoughtfully, our political future in coming decades is likely to be bleak.

I’m typing this piece now as an important era in my own life has ended—Jon Stewart’s running of “The Daily Show”. I’ve literally watched all but maybe a dozen episodes of this program since he has been running it 2, and for that reason, his absence is going to be a big deal in my own life. I’m thinking, then, too, of the younger generation, who won’t have such an important voice in world events to look to—what are they going to do? Is it worth it for our schools to try to fill in more education about the BIG issues?

So I put the question out to you, blog community: Should schools teach about morality and democracy?

Yes, they should teach democracy.
2 Vote
Yes, they should teach morality.
0 Vote
Yes, they should teach both morality and democracy.
1 Vote
No, schools should not be the institution to teach morality and/or democracy.
0 Vote

Notes:

  1. And short, giving it Short-Attention-Span credo as well.
  2. I’m also only 30 years old, and Stewart’s been at this for 16 or 17 years now. That means that from my rip young early-teen years, this guy had/has been as influential of a force in my political and ideological leanings as anyone, arguably more than family, friends, and teachers. My point is that JStew isn’t just a funny guy to me—he’s kinda family at this point.
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9 thoughts on “Should schools teach about morality and democracy?

  1. Not sure how to actually get my vote to go through. Submit button?

  2. admacrae says:

    Couldn’t see the poll on my browser but wanted to say both. In Scotland where I first taught, Religious and Moral Education is part of the curriculum. We never taught that anything was correct but instead just shared what different people believe. Morality is hard too as there are different values attached to different cultures. What was taught was the idea of refection and making informed smart decisions. It worked. While Scotland has many issues and lots of small town values, I have experienced far more extreme views in my time in the States.

    • Chris says:

      That’s really interesting. I think that maybe in this country, in an effort to not offend or make anyone uncomfortable, we might have swung too far towards not exposing people to anything, so it’s cool to know that Scotland does it differently. Thanks for the comment.

  3. We need to explore multiple perspectives on things like morality otherwise I think it becomes preaching. In terms of teaching democracy, I think it’s important to focus on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship as well as the democratic process.

  4. Teaching democracy seems, at least on paper, engrained in the US education system (though nobody votes or is well-informed in reality, but it’s technically on the list). Teaching morality however, is hard! I teach kids how to design and engineer things, and I try to infuse “how to design stuff to pollute less”, and “how to design stuff that will help those less fortunate”, etc….it’s easy to get the learns to learn facts about sustainable design or whatever…but to get them to actually *care* about that stuff, is a whole ‘nother problem.

  5. I replied. But it disappeared. You can imagine I said something really interesting…

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