We should be teaching morals and ethics in our schools.
Before talking of grit and resilience, we should be challenging our children with the fundamental questions about how they live their lives.
Daily, we read of actions and behaviors that show an absence of self-regulation and a lack of integrity, morality or any sense of social responsibility.
As the old social groupings of nuclear families, extended families, local communities are replaced by imagined communities and the State, we have a generation that includes many who are rudderless, isolated and lonely, drifting without any moral anchor or structure to their lives.
Laudable as it may be to promote the values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, faced with an endemic focus on self and the self-made, both in our society and in our schools, there is an urgent need to dig deeper, to ensure that children first grow up with a proper understanding of right and wrong through a study of morals and ethics.
The consequence of rapid social change over several decades has resulted in a society where many children and adults are struggling to cope. Inevitably, it is not about freedom, but about the exercise of free will and the absence of a moral construct.
If we expect our children to grow up with a respect for the rule of law, (which needs to be seen as fair and equitable for all), then we need to teach them about making moral choices and having a value system as a basis for their decision-making.
Part of this requires a change in the mindset that is prevalent in society, one that says ‘if it is legal and if you can get away with it, then it is acceptable.’
In order to make this change requires us to make time in our curriculum, through assemblies and other school activities in order to teach our children to consider issues and behavior by a moral yardstick rather than more usual measures of success. For without proper ethical considerations, we are in danger of society becoming increasingly fragmented and unstable as self-interest overshadows the public good.
We cannot put everyone in a single moral universe but we can teach them about cause and consequence, about the value of charity and community and about having values that are not able to be measured in material terms alone.
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