Archive for the ‘Moral Education.’ Category

Character and modern education

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019
(File pix) Issues of moral education and character development are increasingly important in societies that face the pressures of modernisation.

LESZEK Kolakowski writing in his famous essay, Modernity on Endless Trial, wrote that: “When I try, however to point out the most dangerous characteristic of modernity, I tend to sum up my fear in one phrase: the disappearance of taboos (Kolakowski, 1997, page13).”

Kolakowski was well aware that taboos could be both good and bad. They can play a positive role or negative one depending on the example and on circumstance and context. However, what he was trying to point out in his discussion of modernity was that ultimately: “Various traditional human bonds which make communal life possible, and without which our existence would be regulated only by greed and fear, are not likely to survive without a taboo system… .”

In other words, there must be some things that we simply do not do, some things that are simply unthinkable to most of us and to those of us who do think the unthinkable, recognise as unacceptable. There must be limits on what we can do, otherwise we lose our grounding and find ourselves pushed and pulled only by the basest of motivations: “greed and fear”. Kolakowski’s argument is that a “domino effect” occurs as things once thoughttaboo are now no longer considered taboo and wither. This domino effect, can be seen in societies that fail to have some kind of railing, some sense of limit and this is connected to “the disappearance of the sacred”.

Kolakowski writes: “With the disappearance of the sacred, which imposed limits to the perfection that could be attained by the profane, arises one of the most dangerous illusions of our civilisation — the illusion that there are no limits to the changes that human life can undergo, that society is ‘in principle’ an endlessly flexible thing… .”

His argument also reminds us that issues of moral education and character development are increasingly important in societies that face the pressures of modernisation. When we think of the problem of character education and how to develop good character through education, we not only have to think of the positive values or virtues that we want to inculcate in our students, but also the limits, the sense of that which is simply unacceptable.

Both sides of the ledger, the “thou shalt” and the “thou shalt not’s” are important in our moral education. If Kolakowski is correct then one of the objectives of character education must be to instil into students a sense of what is sacred, and what is taboo in a culture, what is held in highest esteem and what is unacceptable or beyond the pale.

This, however, presents a problem since it is also important that students maintain a sense of tolerance and open mindedness lest their attitude to moral issues slides into a one-sided bigotry or mindless citation of rules at the expense of thinking and reflection.

Inculcating ethical sensibility and dispositions in students requires avoiding the pitfalls of a sterile one-sided drill and exam-oriented kind of approach to character education and yet develop a solid ethical personality in students that gives them some ability to withstand moral challenges. The ability to both hold on to and draw firm lines and understand what is simply unacceptable, as well as the ability to reason and make informed and critical judgements is the key.

The question is: how we advance the aims of character education based on reiterating some firm boundaries as well as help develop a student’s critical thinking and ability to make contextual judgements.

Here we face the problem of adapting the right pedagogical and philosophical method to our approach. The problem of character education relies on understanding the problem of ethical content, the problem of pedagogical method and the issue of broader cultural context.

Developing an approach to character education requires an understanding of how it can succeed with consideration to these critical issues.

By James Campbell.

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Moral education: Inculcate values via 3H approach

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
SEVERAL initiatives have been suggested for next year’s education calendar by the Education Ministry.

SEVERAL initiatives have been suggested for next year’s education calendar by the Education Ministry.

Being in the field of moral education and civics, and citizenship, I would like to share my views and ideas for a proactive and progressive start.

I will comment on fields that I have been trained to teach, and have researched and published, locally and internationally. This is important because many a time, scholars speak about anything and everything based on their opinion.

For example, those who speak on moral and civics base their views on their religious understanding, which may or may not apply to the current knowledge-based society.

If one were to make suggestions for the 2019 school initiatives based only on what they hear, read or believe could work well, then I would call it “Panadol treatment”. This is because it will focus only on the surface of each initiative and is prone to failure.

One of the initiatives states: Bermula 2019, sekolah akan ada Manual Nilai yang akan dibacakan di setiap perhimpunan. (Starting from 2019, schools will have a Value Manual, which will be read out at every assembly).

This should be lauded, but merely reading out the manual during the school assembly will not inculcate values in students. They may even “shut off” as they are already studying Moral
Education (non-Muslim students) and Islamic Education (Muslim students), which are value-laden.

And other subject teachers are already integrating values into their lessons.

I suggest that the focus is shifted to 3H (head-moral cognition, heart-moral emotion and hands-moral action).

The 3H approach is on a par with Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan (National Education Philosophy). The approach will differ between the primary and secondary schools.

In primary schools, pupils could be inculcated with 3H through songs, short video clips, and plays. Such activities could be showcased during the school assembly.

As for secondary school students, whose moral development is at a higher level, they can be given real-life moral dilemmas to be discussed in five- to 10-minute sessions during the school assembly.

In value-based discussions, there is no one ultimate solution, as moral decisions are made based on moral principles.

Based on my doctoral and post-doctoral research, I find that secondary students want their voices to be heard.

By Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan

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Self-taught students have the right attitude

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
(File pix) Self-guided students need a definite idea of what they have to learn and where to find the learning material.

SELF-DIRECTED education is not a new concept. Historical figures — including Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Rene Descartes and Julius Caesar — owe much of their knowledge to self-study and being an autodidact.

Again, it’s educators in the higher education sector who play an important role in nurturing self-directed or independent learners.

For Malaysian educators, most will have to follow the instructions given by the Education Ministry and put up with monitoring by inspectorates and audi tors.

There is little that educators can do. Our education system uses the Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC, as a parcel to self-directed learning (SDL).

In primary and secondary schools, vLE Frog (Virtual Learning Environment) helps in SDL, while Moodle platform is used for tertiary learning.

Many people learn on their own since institutions offering formal education are rare or hardly affordable to all.

Gibbons (2002) defined SDL as the enhancement of knowledge, skill or accomplishment that learners opt for and bring about with their own efforts in any way, in any circumstance, at any time.

Self-directed learners take the initiative to know their learning needs and seek out the resources and methods that satisfy these needs.

The modern concept of self-directed learning involves strategies that aid the learning process and assess or evaluate the outcome.

But for those who still think that learning can happen only in classrooms, the world of self-learning can be of little use.

The trend for self and social learning has some scholars and analysts wondering if we are approaching the end of formal learning techniques and conventional teaching methods.

There will always be a need to train people to acquire first-time skills or to upgrade their skill set.

Learning and development professionals will increasingly consider the option of leaving some learning needs to other non-formal approaches.

But if people are to start learning by themselves, we first need to be sure that people are competent to learn by themselves.

Self-guided students have to have a definite idea of what they have to learn and where to find the learning material.

I had been trying out the PdPc approach (pengajaran dan pemudahcaraan , or teaching and facilitation).

It may be equivalent to the student-centred approach but my students prefer the teacher-centred approach.

Some students feel lost when looking for unrelated learning materials.

Even providing guidelines built into each step of learning, landmark checklists and tests don’t help.

This can be so demotivating that students may give up studying altogether.

Such students may need a teacher-centred approach.

Self-taught students who achieve the needed learning have to be skilled learners.

There are very few with such talent.

So who does self-directed online learning help?

It is participating students who reap the advantages and drawbacks.

But given the contributions of self-directed online learning to open education, it must be a “win” situation for learners.


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Moral compass for parents, guardians

Sunday, January 21st, 2018
It is a partnership between teachers, school and parents, and in any partnership, there will be responsibilities to be shared among the partners. NSTP file pic /Effendy Rashid

THE education of our children is not the sole responsibility of teachers or the school. It is a partnership between teachers, school and parents, and in any partnership, there will be responsibilities to be shared among the partners. Navigating through this may at times be tricky for teachers, parents and guardians. The suggestion by the National Union of Teaching Profession Malaysia to have a Code of Ethics for Parents and Guardians is a way through this maze. The motivation behind the proposal is perhaps the increasing number of attacks by parents on teachers. NUTP says such incidents have not reached an alarming level, but it wants to arrest the problem before they get out of hand. Indiscipline in schools has spiralled in the recent past. On Aug 17, this paper highlighted the case of 402 schools being saddled with disciplinary problems. While Selangor and Johor topped the list with 76 and 63 schools respectively, Kuala Lumpur shamed us with 22 schools, all with drug issues. The disciplinary issues were so serious that police had to call in parents of problematic students for a chat. Bullying, too, is on the rise in residential and non-residential schools. Death due to bullying is not unheard of. NUTP’s proposed code may go some distance in solving this growing menace.

Parents must understand that the school is a learning environment and, as such, it would have rules to ensure that the institution is operated with this objective in mind. Parents must help, not hinder the school in meeting its objectives. The first duty of parents is to send to school a well-disciplined child, who is willing to learn. This is mostly, not entirely though, a result of the nurturing process at home. At times, a well-disciplined child may be shaped by the environment, either at school or outside, into a bully. For example, if a child from a caring home lands in one of the 22 schools in Kuala Lumpur with serious discipline issues, there is a likelihood that the child would fall prey to bad influence. Peer pressure will get to the child, and without early intervention, he will be a delinquent in no time.

Here is where the Code of Ethics for Parents and Guardians will come in handy. A good code will lay out the “dos” and “don’ts” for the parents to navigate their way through the education of their children. Parents who care for the development of their children will closely monitor their children’s progress in school. Parents need to recognise that the school is a place of work as well.


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Transformation in Moral Education

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017
File pix) Moral Education focuses on values learnt at home and school, and in society. Pix by Edmund Samunting

RECENTLY, there was a suggestion that a Values and Personality Development Initiative programme be introduced to students next year.

I look forward to such a programme, which will focus not only on the grading component of Moral Education and Islamic Studies, but also what is characterised by students who study both the subjects.

Moral Education started as a core subject in the education system in the early 1980s. After three decades, there has been a tremendous transformation in Moral Education, not only in Malaysia but also many parts of the globe. A subject that used to focus on the moral cognition, especially stages of moral development, has ventured more into holistic moral development, which includes moral thinking, moral emotions, moral actions, moral sensitivity and moral motivation.

In the 1960s, when Moral Education was gaining popularity worldwide, the principle behind moral philosophy was that one who thought morally would behave morally. But, as research intensified, it was realised that individuals who talked so much about morality and how one should behave, sometimes were not moralised themselves.

Then, came the era of character education in the 1970s. Authorities argue that to be moralised, one needs to have the head (moral thinking), the heart (moral emotions) and the behaviour (moral action).

Since Moral Education started in Malaysia in the 1980s, we have been following the character education model, focusing on the moral thinking, moral emotions and moral action components.

However, the assessment at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) level until early 2000 focused on Moral Studies, which entailed the 16 main values and 64 sub-values in the syllabus.

It was a teething era for Moral Education and we have come a long way from focusing on values and value clarifications based on situations provided in the examination.

Now, the pedagogies and assessments for Moral Education are based on the three components as mentioned.

In 2002, Paper Two for Moral Education was introduced in SPM. Students were required to conduct moral projects. Moral Education teachers were required to assess students based on the projects and reports submitted by their students.

By Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan.

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Moral values to be assessed

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

A Values and Personality Development Initiative programme will begin for all school students from early next year.

The programme will see students receiving a score for how well they display moral values within the classroom, and not just how they answer Islamic Studies and Moral Education exam questions.

Deputy Education director-general (Teaching Professionalism Development) Dr Zainal Aalam Hassan said that the ministry hopes moral values are not only learnt but practised by all students.

“Anyone can learn values but it is more difficult to make it a practice,” he told reporters before the launch of the Education Ministry’s new cinema advertisement on Monday

Most of the time, students are only taught about moral values during Islamic Studies and Moral Education classes, he added.

But these values have been implied and taught throughout the whole curriculum, said Sulaiman.

There would be town halls and workshops to gather feedback and train teachers on how to assess students’ values, added Dr Zainal Aalam.

“Other stakeholders including parents and the local community will also be engaged.”

“It is very difficult to measure moral values,” he said.

He also said that all teachers would be asked to evaluate students as “students do not just meet one teacher in a day.”

For example, Dr Zainal Aalam said students can be assessed on their ability to work together by the way they interact with each other when seated in groups.

“This would also mean those that are more academically-inclined can help the weaker students,” he added.
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