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This is behind the classroom door a series of discussions produced by WFIU Af-Am and the College of Education at Northern Illinois University and distributed by that I should call educational radio network. Our topic for this program is ethical and moral education. It's place in the schools. Here is the moderator Dean Robert F. top. This is number seven in a series of conversations among a group of administrators who spent their lives in preparation of teachers who were teaching in the public schools. We entitle this series behind the classroom door and number seven theme is. Ethical and moral education. Its place in the schools. And surely it's a controversial issue nowadays we ever had Supreme Court decisions in what appeared to be in significant aspects of the teaching of religion in the
school. And as one looks back on the history of Supreme Court decisions we discover that they seem to be inconsistent and very difficult to understand the position of the Supreme Court over the years. But our theme today is not as much religion in the schools as it is with ethics and moral values in the schools. And the fact of the matter is I suspect that teachers good teachers at least have been teaching ethics and moral values all kinds of values wherever they have been teaching. And maybe this is more the case in the elementary schools but I don't see how a teacher good possibly relate to children day after day and year after year perhaps without communicating some of his ethical points of view and his values. Senator Taft once made an interesting statement that has caused me to do a lot of
thinking over the years. You said he wouldn't care a teacher were a communist as long as he didn't teach communism. How do you react to that statement. Knocked a law degree with them was I think one of the primary obligations of that teacher is to teach ethical and moral values to children. Now there are many ways to teach these values. For example they do not have to be taught in a formal manner where a teacher would direct the students to reading passages of a book or anything like that. The teacher could teach ethical and moral values by his own behind. By the way he deals justly and impartially with students and his class regardless of their physical condition mentality political bit beliefs and so forth. You would
also teach. Values by recognizing the individual differences among students and manner in which she seeks to meet their individual needs. The kind of behavior he permits in the classroom doesn't mean that it was communicated every day and every moment I have a feeling that children know their teachers better than anybody else knows a teacher. Perhaps even his wife or her husband. When you get into the teaching of ethical and moral values you're moving into a type of situation that is very difficult to evaluate. It is said that the knowledge or information or abilities which teachers attempt to transmit to children can be classified in three categories. According to Bloom's Taxonomy and we'd have the cognitive domain. Then there'd be the psychomotor domain and the effect of domain in a
cognitive domain we'd have knowledge in the psychomotor domain we now have physical skills physical abilities. And in the affective domain we'd have the teaching of ethical and moral values attitudes and soul or. Not it is extremely difficult to. To devise teaching methods and methods of evaluating the success of a teacher as she attempts to do that you know if your teacher thinks about those three general areas where progress should be made do you think teacher stops and says well I want to teach these children with consideration for each other's rights let's say. Well I think the evidence is overwhelming these days in showing that teachers are primarily concerned with the cognitive domain because that this is something that can be tested measure and doing through
tests. Yes. And perhaps teachers are concerned to a lesser amount with a teaching psychomotor skills although we do get into it and in teaching reading and in physical education in high school we get into it in. Writing as mechanical drawing. When I'm working and so forth but ethical and moral values as something else I believe myself that one of the most effective ways of teaching these is through a good example and I feel that teachers can do this effectively by the way they are. They live in a school and in the community. An example I think of by the way Dr. Laughlin is occurs to me this was in a kindergarden situation. And I was principal of the building I happened to look out the window and would say 12:30 or
so and here came a mother dragging her little boy back to school. He was crying and she was obviously angry and he was carrying a little automobile with them and she came yanking him up the stairs and into the garden teacher's room and I walked down there to see what the trouble was in she said Billy. You tell your teacher that you stole ish automobile. Will a teacher quite calmly and capably I thought handle this by saying Well Billy didn't know yet these automobiles Billi are here for all of the children to use and we don't take them out of the room. And I think what both of these adults were facing up to was the fact that there are property rights that children have to learn about and the teacher was recognizing that the child doesn't learn these property rights automatically in and was using this as an example
to show the child that this was not his property. He respected others and this is something for all of them to use. So I suppose Dr. Laughlin you're right. Examples count most particularly with young people. That's a batterer of property rights is interesting. I'm sure that most beginning. Primary grade teachers there are quite concerned over the fact that many of their children show a disregard for property rights at this early age. That brings to my mind some amusing incidents that occurred while we were raising our four children. And I'm sure it has occurred to other other parents too. This has occurred where after a shopping trip to the supermarket to get to the to the checkout stand and find out want to hear youngsters has picked up some little article that tracked him as he's passing through the store.
He had a utter disregard for the fact that this article had not been been purchased but it is an example of early young children having a lack of knowledge of the rights of others too to own and hold property. Well I think there comes an age an ally of a boy who when he wants to try it again he's tempted and it seems to me that name store managers and I run into this with a pre-adolescent boy or two going in and seeing something he wants and see if he can get away with it. And of course I'm convinced. That when a child lies starts to develop the habit of telling lies he's stealing news likely to accompany it or follow it and then direct invigorates action must be taken I'm sure of that emergency disciplinary action must be taken but more than that get at some of the basic reason
why we must tell the truth and why we must respect property. But the point is that these are things that a child has to learn he doesn't have this knowledge to interoperate a right so he must learn it like he asked to learn something anything else doesn't come automatically and parents work at it but parents need help and teachers have to assume some of this responsibility too of preparing children to accept the property rights of others. I'd like to comment on this I think that people should think about the all of the forces for example that influence. Value development on the part of the child. And when you when you line up those influences you see for example the family as one and all the members of the family and of course there the parents are very important. Then you turn to the friends or acquaintances of this child and of course he learns a great
deal from from them. And then beyond a friend you turn to the local community which to school is a part and then of course to the larger society. Now it seems to me that the development of values here begins at a very early age. In other words from the time the child is you might say born in a sense begin to develop all the values and the earlier the better don't you think that's why primary teachers after parents have the most lasting effect in the establishment of values. Well I think you're going to encounter individual rates of learning values like you do and. And conquering individual rights and learning arithmetic skills or reading skills to some children are going to have this knowledge and have these values when they come to school and others will not. And. If they need help in this matter I think it is the teacher's responsibility to provide them with us.
And you know this and learning and stressing in educating children her values is important instead of taking it for granted and becoming angry when you run into something that is contrary to what you believe represents civilized behavior. I know we tell young teachers going out to teach for the first time in view of the fact that they are from a middle class or upper class society. We say to them now don't be too shocked if you discover that some of your children come from homes like you've never seen or example. We tell young to be careful about those notes you intercept. Maybe it's better not to read those notes because there might be some words in the notes that you wouldn't anticipate a child of seven or eight years of age having in his vocabulary. What we forget sometimes the nature of the home from which the child comes in the nature of his neighborhood. Seems to me more and more of the schools are becoming pivotal too. I can't help but think that all of the problems in the urban centers
where parents apparently have urged and supported their own children to strike from school to stay home from school. But this is related to values that the parents hold dear. I can't say that I'd like to have them using their children for this purpose but it does demonstrate that the schools have become pivotal it seems that the public schools and of course the private schools have become the only point in the lives of all people where they can be influenced in any standardized way. And of course we do have to acquire the culture of our land. Teachers must share with parents the task of shaping each student's purposes and acts as he proceeds toward socially accepted types of behavior. And I think the effectiveness of many methods of teaching
in a school it depends upon the type of relationships that the child and teacher don't have and that the child can develop or the parent teacher can develop these relations ships better by having a knowledge of the child's home. There are so many things that come to mind you know who are always complaining about the present situation. Perhaps this is a sign of age but nevertheless when I see high school students rioting and when I see the lack of concern for our country's welfare perhaps or when I see evidence of destructiveness on the part of adolescents and somewhat older children I wonder if perhaps we haven't given enough attention to ethics and enough attention to moral values being values that prevail regardless of one's religious believes these are
values that are characteristic of any civilized society trying to live harmoniously within itself. I think whenever we talk about ethics and moral values again we have a very difficult time staying away from let's say religion and spiritual values. I know that you hear people some people say for example that the public schools are irreligious. Of course I don't believe that but I don't believe that they ever have been what you can say you're religious. However they are not tempting to teach any particular sect. They're not for example in the school. Let's take social studies an example. A teacher can't really teach social studies without that some time or other good talking about the impact let's say of religion and religious groups on the history of this country various kinds of religion that's writers and nation.
And for example in art in music. They will bring in contributions let's say of churches and church members into the curriculum and end the same way in for example in English teaching of English and teaching poetry in prose. Religion is Broady and so there are many ways in which religion is brought in the schools and it's not. It has always been that way and I think it all with will be I don't think you can get away from that. Dr. Leonard the earliest schools the earliest public schools in our country had a religious background in the early textbooks that were or used can consisted of passages taken from the Bible. The parents thought it was extremely valuable. And if your leaders didn't use the term under God in what a sterile place would a sterile learning environment it would be we
eliminated all reference to religion. Well just consider the main printer the principal of a cation periods that we have existing in the school today we have Thanksgiving. We have the Christmas recess. We have these Easter recess. While going back to the 1950 White House conference on children and youth how they define the role that say of religion in the schools that time and they stated for example that nothing was of greater importance to the moral spiritual health of the nation and than the work of religious education. But they went on to say at the same time they were opposed to the to the use of the public schools directly or indirectly for religious educational purposes and I think that does a good job of defining the problem. But you're one I keep wondering how far we're going to go and what I think is a ridiculous direction winnowing out of the schools. Any reference to religion.
It is conceivable that as you indicated in our class you would have to remove all of its meanings and not concern itself with meanings that had a religious early religious theme in an abortion. There was an era of art when practically all of the painting seemed to have a religious theme. We could carry this on throughout the curriculum and pretty soon we would have an impoverished curriculum. Surely one that was not very exciting. Well this is one of those controversial issues of course and we hope that our democracy will work through this in a way that will make sense. Usually it takes a long time but eventually we do it. Well we're coming more and more into the consideration of controversial issues in the schools and we're wondering what the role of the teacher should be in presenting these controversial issues in the schools. You have any ideas about this. Dr. Laughlin. While I definitely think that the teacher should not avoid all
references that controversy over issues. Now the part that the teacher would play in the development of the concepts involved in controversial issues I suppose would be up to the teacher and self. But. I have the feeling myself that the teacher is a mature individual has lived more than the children in his class and I would hesitate to recommend that the teacher should avoid a stand on a controversy or issue. I think his opinion on the matter is something that the student should have maybe a different levels is a different doctor Loughlin I would like to see elementary teachers take up controversial issues. I think this is part of life and part of education part of living in children not a face up to these things. But I'd like to have the elementary teacher at least do his best to present both sides of it. Sometimes this is difficult.
Sometimes the teacher has to simply point out references Here's where you can read about this and from one point of view say the Civil War for example. Here you can get the northern point of view here's a book written by somebody from the south. It will be interesting even to contrast those point of views. When as you as a child goes on up into the departmental eyes situation where he has many different teachers. This is one of the facts of life to learn Ernest to judge the individual and his prejudices and evaluate his thoughts. All of these divergent thoughts and opinions and come up with his own opinion. I imagine that some of our listeners our lists are hearing us talk about ethics and moral values in the schools and I suppose as some of them may be thinking about wondering what we think about the ethics as far as a teacher is concerned personally for example today we're hearing a lot about teacher strikes and we're hearing about this is unethical practice or this is not unethical practice.
I'd like to to discuss this for for a little while and see what Dr. oftener and what you deem top think about the matter of ethics in the teacher. Why I think the teaching profession occupies a position of public trust and this should affect the teacher's personal conduct as well as the interaction of the school and the community. And in considering a teacher in the community I think that the teacher must adhere to any reasonable pattern of behavior accepted by the community and community boards professional persons. This I think would cause a teacher to to hesitate about participating in. Any type of situation that would lead to the closing of schools for one
reason or another. Well Dr. Laughlin that was always was my point of view that the teacher was a professional person with an obligation to the child and never should the teacher absent himself from the classroom unless easier is some serious reason. But I wonder Dr. Loveland if conditions didn't become so bad for teachers I wonder if the public somehow or other failed to reward teachers to the degree that they should for their significant role and for the preparation they have and the teachers have had to resort to this. You know I want to say that personally I would never strike as a teacher I would never absent myself but I might resign I might leave at the close of the school year for another community or another job. When we could go on at length about this teacher strikes are here with the entire
state of Florida and certain other communities are having serious problems will not be learned and you're an experienced educator and like to hear your point of view. You brought the subject up. Yes I purposely brought up this subject because I know it's a topic of concern to people today. I think there's a long history to all of this and I think maybe to understand it fully we have to go back in history back 25 50 75 years ago and consider how teachers behaved how they were expected to behave and what has happened through the years. For example I recall in reading about contracts for example the teachers had many years ago I recall one contract that I read in one of my classes one time it was written in the 1920s to a teacher in a sit for example in the contract he had said such things as.
You're not to get married or keep company with men or you're not to live here and ice cream parlors or you're not to ride in the carried you're not immobile with any man except your father or your brother. And another one that was very interesting was. You're not you're not too dressed in bright colors for example. Well lace up til recent years they had some really good regulations of this nature present some interesting. Well they're not problems with some interesting conditions with regard to young people deciding to become teachers. We know that didn't the colleges of education don't attract certain types of individuals the extreme individualists for example who wants to live his life in a completely free fashion. We know it also that when it comes to getting a job Dr. Laughlin there are some qualities with regard to teachers ethics and
conformity that the employer looks for. You recall when you used to hire teachers what you thought about this. Well I I definitely would look for a teacher who had high ethical and moral values because I feel that these do a fact of children's own development of values and I definitely would not have knowingly hired a teacher who would not meet the standards of conduct that were expected of this community in which I was working. I suppose that spells that out as well as anything what we expect of our prospect of teachers is that they are at ease with the typical cultural patterns of individual who's in their professional group or in comparable professions.
And I don't think it's as restrictive as it used to be. Oh no they're still the teachers still in a sensitive position. Perhaps not as sensitive a position as ministers and priests and rabbis. When really teachers looked at quite critically by the public they expect the teacher to live up to certain standards don't they. Well I think that parents who want to teach you to be the example. Perfect day let's say the almost a perfect example for their children because they realize I think that that in a sense Children learn what they live in when the child is going to spend a day in school. They want the child to be with someone whom they're proud of and someone that the child will copy because they know that their child is going to imitate you know a good deal well what's wrong with good form and do you know.
And sometimes I think people who don't conform are the worst conform formers of all because they all follow a certain dress certain pattern and they just think they're not conforming they're not conforming to certain standards when we're conforming to other standards. I think I think it's fortunate that the when we consider ethical moral and moral values that the US education is not alone in the development of these desirable characteristics and children. I think it's fortunate that there are three institutions in the community that are greatly concerned in this part of education. I'm referring of course to the home the church and the school. Right. These are important and perhaps our basic institutions that establish the values by which we live. After all what kind of a teacher do you want Dr. Leonard you are you prepare
elementary school teachers what kind of a teacher do you want. Well we want a teacher who will help these boys and girls grow at their maximum potential without putting too much pressure on them a person with a good personality who will knowing that the children are going to imitate the teacher in many ways. Well I think we don't want teachers to conform and live in a straight laced way. I think that we want them to live like normal cultured individuals. We want them to get married we want them to have fun we want them to enjoy the things that any cultured individual enjoys. Well in this brief presentation we have tried to indicate that at the moral values must be taught. I don't come automatically. We pointed out that controversial issues are part and parcel of the curriculum and they should be nowadays handled with good sense and good judgment. And we don't have to
worry too much if the teacher teach you something that's contrary to our relief because the next teacher made the different point of view. We feel that a teacher demonstrate in the culture that he represents and should not after all a civilized society such as ours has certain levels of behavior that are significant. And so we conclude by saying the teacher is vital in our society and what he is and what he does with regard to ethics and moral values is extremely important behind the classroom door produced by WFIU Af-Am and co-operation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University each week focus its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top data the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guest were Dr. Leo Laughlin head
of the Department of Administration and services. And Dr. Lloyd lettered head of the department of elementary education. Next week's topic will be homework and the public school child. I'm Fred Pyle and this program is distributed by the national educational radio network.
Behind the Classroom Door
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-5-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Chicago: “Behind the Classroom Door; 7,” 1969-01-27, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024,
MLA: “Behind the Classroom Door; 7.” 1969-01-27. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 2, 2024. <>.
APA: Behind the Classroom Door; 7. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from