Morality in Education essay

The controversy regarding morality in education straddles both political and philosophical arenas. It becomes difficult to discuss this in general terms because morality itself is completely subjective. Of course, this is the root of the problem; if an entire society shared a moral philosophy there would be no dispute. Some might argue that moral direction in education can stifle a student’s freedom of thought, and furthermore, that education in it’s purist form is simply the acquisition of facts and skills in a completely objective and impersonal manner. However to educate in this manner, one would have to ignore an essential component of human nature; the way in which one interacts in society is dictated by personal philosophy, which in itself is rooted in an individual moral code. To ask a teacher to ignore all of this and teach a truly “objective” lesson would be not only unfair but also illogical.

By establishing these maxims, Kant is confidant that education can be conducted in an objective manner, and moral direction will be dictated by the students personal philosophy.

This is a pathologically optimistic position for Kant to take. It is difficult, from a twenty-first century vantage point, to imagine an entire society answering only to themselves, and their own moral code. Kant acknowledges this to an extent when discussing his views on punishment, however it is here when he begins to contradict himself. He feels that punishment, in the conventional sense is futile, and that one must be guided.

The current public education system is fraught with complications surrounding these issues. Because local communities largely dictate the curriculum as well as teaching methods, the issue becomes largely a political one. It seems ironic that the teaching of morality is put in the hands of politicians, however this seems like the only feasible method of reaching something close to a consensus on communal education methods. In this context Plato’s idea of a ‘philosopher ruler’ seems rather appealing.
In our contemporary western society private schooling seems like the only way to educate without moral controversy. This offers people of like-minds, who subscribe to a similar moral value system to get education in a way that the majority will find morally acceptable. There is however one glaringly obvious flaw in that this option is only available to a tiny percentage of the population.

Until an entire population is completely homogenized, there is no feasible solution to the problem of morality and it’s place in education. Although I’d like to think that Kant’s philosophy of self-governing maxims could work, I am myself a product of society and my own education, and am thusly far to cynical and jaded to buy it.

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