Moral Character In The Classroom

I am so excited to report that I've been invited by Meenoo Rami to host a discussion on #engchat next Monday, January 13!  Will you join me there?

#engchat is a community of English teachers who meet on Twitter to share ideas Mondays at 7pm EST. I have loved participating in its conversations, and have connected with some incredible educators through it.  

* * * * * * * * I've been a bit evangelical about Twitter with my teacher friends lately, so I decided to share some posts this week about how Twitter has changed my practice and how educators can use it professionally.  I hope I can set out a sort of welcome mat for some reluctant users who aren't sure where (or why) to begin.  Be sure to check back this week for those posts! * * * * * * * *

Let me explain the topic I've chosen:

Questions about morals come up every day in my high school classroom.  They come up in reading works of literature, in nonfiction research articles, when someone talks about what they saw on TV last night.  They come up in teenagers' daily lives, and in mine.

Good vs. evil.  Right vs. wrong.  How do we know?  And why should we care?

It's pretty controversial, I suppose, though it isn't my intention for the chat to become super heated, and I hope this is a topic that other teachers have come across in their professional lives, too.

Teachers are just regular, flawed people.  We're also professional role models.  Aren't we supposed to provide some guidance in helping young people develop their own moral character?

Here are my essential questions for next week's chat:

  • If it is not part of the curriculum and standards, do we as teachers have an obligation to help develop the moral character of our students?
  • Should we teach morality, given that it is formed so subjectively?
  • What are the components of moral character that students (read: humans) should understand?
  • In your own classrooms, how do you teach these "extracurricular" lessons?  Are they overt?  Or do they blossom organically?
  • Are we as teachers able to teach these lessons?  Are they effective?
  • Are our lessons within the classroom counter-cultural, given that students are bombarded with conflicting messages outside of school?

I don't have answers to these questions, and I'm filled with doubt and doing my best in my own practice.  It will be so exciting to hear other educators' ideas on this topic.  I hope you'll join us!

background image via The Weaver House for DLF

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