Editorial Notes : Moral Training in the Schools

The general interest in moral training in the schools is widening and deepening. The very important volumes, on Moral Instruction and Training in the Schools, which are reviewed in the present number, reflect this interest most intelligently, in an international inquiry. There are other indications of this interest which are more striking if less enlightening. We refer to the systems of moral instruction which pass under the names of the "Fairchild and Brownlee Systems." These undertake to seize real moral situation in the experience of children, and by striking comment to education the moral judgement. In the system which is identified with the name of Mr. Milton Fairchild, these situations are found to a large extent in sport or in the child's ambitions for success in later life. Photographs catch and vividly reproduce these crucial situations, and the comment of the lecturer aims to identify these highly exciting and absorbing situations with equally vivid moral judgements. The method has received wide approval and the host of names that cover the circulars imply that in the judgment of many of our clearest minded educators and thinkers a solution had been found for this problem of moral education in what have been termed these "moral nickel theaters." There can be no desire on the part of anyone to discourage an effort which certainly has abandoned the mere moral maxim, and attempts to make use of the child's own experience to help him form his own judgment instead of trying to din the results of adults experience into the boy's mind in the form of ready-made judgments

There is, however, an inadequacy in the presentation which should be emphasized in the interest of the very purpose which has called out these schemes. This inadequacy lies in the fragmentary character of the situations which are seized by the lecturer and his camera. A situation in a baseball game must call out a whole social organization

(328) if it is to have the moral value desired. Why is it that American sport to so large an extent, even in our colleges, has led to lowering of morals instead of leading to a higher ethical level? In the English public schools and universities it is fair to claim a morally elevating influence for sport. In America this has not been the case. We have not succeeded and probably never will succeed in organizing the whole social life of the school on the basis of sport as is the case in England. When this is done the judgment of the school and its history and ambitions appear in the conduct of the boy.

No really moral consciousness will be aroused until the school and its ideals speak in the conduct of the boy on the athletic field. In America the school and its ideals call for success, and it is questionable whether we can ever succeed in identifying the school tradition with the ethics of sport. Our school instructors who must remain the principal personages in the school community are not part of the school games. The presence and character of athletic coaches are sufficient evidence that the ideals of Rugby and Harrow cannot be reproduced in the American school.

But eminent English educational opinion deplores the lack of civic consciousness in the intellectual and moral atmosphere of the English school, and here it is possible to obtain an organized school consciousness which shall be moral and moralizing. In approaching this problem it is of the first importance to recognize that it is only as the school becomes organized as a social whole, and as the child recognizes his conduct as a reflection or formulation of that society, will it be possible to have any moral training in our schools.



No notes

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2