Monday, February 21, 2011

Moral Compass

On Friday, we had a flag raising ceremony at my school, in honor of President's Day. It's a mystery to me why we plan the floor map of the ceremony in a way where 90% of the kids can't see. We do that, though, every year. All the classes march out in lines. They are positioned so that the line leader can see, but no one else (excepting the very tall) can see.

Before we went out, I warned my class to stay in line and be respectful. This class was the first class I've ever had that didn't follow that request. There was about ten of them bound and determined to push and shove their ways to the front. When we got back, I pointed out that it was quite a poor display of citizenship. They looked at me in disbelief, "But, we couldn't see."

I could almost imagine some of the gods of education weighing in on this incident.

Piaget would tell me that nine-year-olds are in the process of dissolving egocentric thinking. I should have them role play and think about the perspective of those they were pushing. I should point out that others could not see, but chose a different way.

Maslow would tell me that I failed to put my students in a position where their needs were met. They were justified in a way because they were trying to observe the ceremony. I didn't meet their needs.

Gardner would tell me that this group needs to develop interpersonal intelligence. I should do some teambuilding activities and involve more interpersonal skills in our daily routine.

Pavlov and Skinner would probably tell me to train them better. Good line, reward, repeat...

Dewey would tell me to create an opportunity for them to discover a better way. We should plan a new floor map, write a what if essay on everyone pushing.

What did I do? I told them that it was selfish. Maybe, Piaget, you're right, they did it partially because they are in the process of developing a wider perspective that considers others. Maslow, it's true that the plan was poor and that's on me or the school. Gardner, they certainly need to develop interpersonal intelligence for life and for the class. Pavlov, we will certainly practice the line. Dewey, they should discover a better plan and not have me give it to them.

I try to incorporate the vast amount of information in my head given to me courtesy of the gods of education. Sometimes, though, I just want to call of the wisdom of what they did in the "good old days." People, children or otherwise, should be decent and think of others. If kids still need to learn that and their parents won't teach them, we should teach them. We shouldn't apologize or excuse bad behavior.

I don't think kids today are bad kids, but I think a lot of kids are being sold short on moral wisdom. We're so afraid of overstepping our bounds and telling them what is right and wrong, we're so afraid of rocking their world by introducing an idea that is not developmentally appropriate, we are so afraid of putting our moral judgements on someone else, that no one teaches right and wrong.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Understood,

I just began reading your teaching blog and I enjoy it alot! You talk about your feelings towards your students and I identify the same way. Good luck with the rest of the school year and keep your chin up. I thought your Valentine card lesson plan was very thoughtful and showed alot of hard work. I hope your students enjoyed the activity!