Whatever a person judges worth having, worth doing and worth being reflect his/her values. Values may be non-moral or moral. Non-moral values are those that people want or desire such as activities like reading or exercising. Moral values are standards or principles by which we judge our actions as either good or bad. These values correspond to universal truths that man hold to be good and important. What is good for man as man is perfection that corresponds to the human nature.
Moral values are objective. They are not changed by the perception of an individual. Some people think that values must be entirely subjective, relative to the perception of the individual who holds them. But can honesty lose its value because of the many people who practice it? The frequent practice of an immoral act, such as dishonesty, does not change the meaning of honesty nor does it make dishonesty good (Ramirez, 2007).
Moral values, as defined by Esteban (1989), refer to: universal truths which man holds to be good and important; they are the ethical principles which he struggles to attain and implement in his daily life.
They are the ideals which transcend all time and space; those which are valid for all men regardless of race or religion; the ones which unite strangers, families, nations—all of humanity—with God (p.7).
Moral values and universal truths must become the point of reference for individual and societal conduct. During these times of moral confusion and doubt, however, truth is often blurred and ethical principles are unclear.
That is WHY the child needs education in values. He has a natural right to truth. He needs guidance and direction as he undergoes the process of internalizing values. He needs to conform his mind continually to truth and reality (p.37).
When we develop the moral values of students, we teach them moral intelligence. Moral intelligence is the capacity to understand right from wrong; it means to have strong ethical convictions and to act on them so that one behaves in the right and honourable way (Borba, 2001:4).
Human beings have always believed that there exists a power higher than the self. Man has a natural tendency towards perfection. For man to achieve perfection, he/she needs supernatural grace to enhance and improve human formation. To gain this supernatural grace, man has to take into account the human virtues, all the human powers he/she has to develop in order to cooperate with supernatural divine grace in this life (De Torre,1980). Human virtues directly benefit the person himself because it is only by practicing virtues that he can live a happy and free life. Why teach virtues and form values?
Unlike with teenagers and adults, one cannot sit down and talk about values with children. They have little capability of learning values unless these are translated into virtues and until the good habits are thoughtfully formed in them through the guidance of adults.
Although some virtues may be acquired through the example of elders at home and in school, they can also be learned through the development of cognitive processes and the conscious formation of behaviour among children. In such case, the teaching profession demands that teachers not only be the role model for the practice of virtues like hope, patience, honesty and industry, but should also know how to systematically transmit these and other virtues that the society holds dear to the next generation.
Warnock (In Halstead, 1996) sees the importance of teaching virtues in schools and the integral role of the teacher that can benefit not only the children themselves but in a broader sense, the society.
School is not the only place where such lessons must be learned; but it is a very important place, in that the classroom and the playground are [spaces] where so many virtues and vices may find their expression, and the teacher is always at hand, to draw the moral. School should be the breeding ground of the individual conscience, simply because it is, more than the home, a society, and it is within society that the shared values which inform the conscience are predominantly exercised (p. 49).
Professor Thomas Lickona (1991), a developmental psychologist and professor of education at the State University of New York at Cortland, who has written extensively about Character Education, lists ten good reasons why schools should be making a ―clearheaded and wholehearted commitment to teaching moral values and developing good character.‖ This includes the person who has a clear and urgent need because young people are decreasingly concerned about contributing to the welfare of their fellow human beings; the society in which the school as an institution, enjoys a time-honored role of taking up values education. He adds:
When millions of children get little moral teaching from their parents and where value-centered influences such as church or temple are also absent from their lives . . . The people must care about the rights of others and the common good and be willing to assume the responsibilities of democratic citizenship . . . Everything a school does teaches values—including the way teachers and other adults treat students, the way the principal treats teachers, the way the school treats parents, and the way students are allowed to treat school staff and each other . . . To develop the character of our children in a complex and changing world is no small task. But it is time to take up the challenges (pp. 20-21).
Therefore, when the teacher takes an active role in developing virtues among children, he/she is not only helping in the formation of the persons but also significantly contributing to the development of society (Ramirez, 2009).
Admittedly, teaching today cannot separate the education of the mind from the education of character. Some problems we encounter in teaching are poor academic performance, the lack of academic motivation and poor study habits, to name some. These problems pertain to academic performance. There are more problems, such as dishonesty, cheating, the use of foul language, disrespect and peer cruelty. These are behavioural problems. Both have to be addressed because as teachers. We are duty-bound to teach our students the unity of life, that is, living one’s virtues habitually, consistently and constantly in every human endeavour.
They cannot be performing well in class and be the person everybody hates outside class because of bad behaviour! If this does not stop in the person’s schooling years, he/she will definitely carry this on through life as an adult parent, a community member and a worker. What we desire to have are students who have perseverance, diligence and self-discipline (virtues essential to academic performance) and at the same time are caring, respectful and honest (virtues essential to good character). (See Thomas Lickona’s Moral character and Performance character).
Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EP) is the basic education curriculum that teaches grade school pupils and high school students character education, moral values and ethics. It supports the national education goal ―to provide a well-rounded education that will assist each individual in society to attain his or her potential as a human being and enhance the range and quality of the individuals within the group.‖ The EP curriculum is guided by the following beliefs:
a. Man must develop virtue not for its own sake but as a means to an end; that end being the Ultimate good, God. b. Ethics and moral values are a set of guiding principles that enable man to discern right from wrong in thoughts, words, decisions and actions. They are manifested through good habits of behaviour that are practiced habitually, consistently and constantly. Ethical behaviour is seen in a person’s treatment of oneself, in relating to other people, country / world and God.
Edukasyon Sa Pagpapakatao (EP) in the K-12 curriculum teaches students character education, moral values and ethical behaviour. The goal of EP is to help the student demonstrate understanding of the concepts that guide the moral and ethical behaviour towards oneself, family, other people, country / the world and God; decide and act responsibly for the common good by living a life of harmony and peace, contribute to development and achieve human happiness. This is seen in the EP Curriculum Framework below:
At the heart of the EP Curriculum is man who has ’self’ that can relate to other people and the world. Man has the capability to understand, decide and act as he/she lives in a world of shaped by socio-cultural, moral, political, and economic realities. The EP curriculum will form in the student the ethical and moral behavior that is seen in a person’s treatment of oneself, in relating to other people, the country / world and God. This can teach him/her decide and act responsibly for the common good, living a life of harmony and peace, contribute to development and achieve human happiness.
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