A Reflection on Classroom Conversations about Curriculum Development and Moral Education
I was struck by the statement Dr. Schuereman offered at the start of class, “[B]udgets are moral documents”, and how this statement wove itself throughout the fabric of our discussions of curriculum development and moral education. I am not sure that I would have understood what was meant by this statement if we didn’t take some time to discuss it, but the powerful nature of its simplicity has been lingering in my thoughts daily since. If you look at how a government, state, district, community, even a household budgets it’s monies, you are looking at a document that essentially rates what people believe in. These budgets are a list of priorities, a hierarchy of personal items of value. Budgets give a “sneak peek” into what people stand for. Having said that, I have to question why is it that education does not rank as the number one supported item on any budget.
With this thought I feel ashamed and worried about the future of our nation’s schools and the education of children. However, I do take comfort in difference that can be made by one individual and the many opportunities that are available for change. As a teacher (in the near future) shouldn’t my presence in the classroom be considered a moral statement? I believe that this choice to be a teacher is a powerful statement supporting what I value and what I feel is my moral responsibility. I hope to further support this statement by becoming involved in not only the classroom but the greater school and community at large.
One way this could be achieved is through the dynamic and ever evolving process of curriculum adoption. In the very clearly articulated six year sequence of finding new curriculum, a teacher’s statement of responsibility to students, faculty, administration, board members and the community would be fundamentally made. As we examined in class, curriculum development is no easy process. It takes time, energy, and considerable effort to even come to an agreement about what should be taught for each unique subject. As we explored through our readings and discussions, this is further complicated by the controversy surrounding religious related activities, controversial issues and whether or not moral education should be a part of the school curriculum. This topic, no matter where you discuss it, usually brings with it a heated debate. After examining the codes and by-laws I understand a bit more what is allowed or disallowed with regard to faith based curriculum. However, one question that still looms large over me is where does moral curriculum fit it?
If we eliminate the religious side of this issue and just look at what it takes to teach a person what is moral and good, is it the job of the teacher to have educational material that supports this moral education? Should teachers offer critical thinking/questioning of behavior or do we simply dictate rules and regulations? Do we allow students to stumble morally in order to learn from their own mistakes or must we only tell them what is right or wrong according to the school?
I feel obligated to teach and have students learn. An extremely valuable tool in learning is discovery, whether this is in relation to mathematics, reading, or morality and ethical behavior. How do we expect students to grow up and be good citizens if they don’t first learn how to be good and caring people? I hope that in my future classroom I am allowed and encouraged to let students make mistakes, to fall and get up, and to learn from each experiences that every situation has the potential to teach a lesson. Offering moral education seems to be a very important thread in the fabric of the classroom. It is within these educational dichotomies that we as teachers offer our presence as an example of our continuous moral statement.