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    Download by: [Daniel Lapsley] Date: 10 November 2016, At: 18:07

    Action in Teacher Education

    ISSN: 0162-6620 (Print) 2158-6098 (Online) Journal homepage:

    Moral-Character Development for TeacherEducation

    Daniel Lapsley & Ryan Woodbury

    To cite this article: Daniel Lapsley & Ryan Woodbury (2016) Moral-CharacterDevelopment for Teacher Education, Action in Teacher Education, 38:3, 194-206, DOI:10.1080/01626620.2016.1194785

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    Published online: 09 Nov 2016.

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    Moral-Character Development for Teacher EducationDaniel Lapsley and Ryan Woodbury

    University of Notre Dame

    ABSTRACTIn this article the authors accept the common view that moral-charactereducation is immanent to the life of classroom and schools and inevitableeven when remanded to the hidden curriculum. Most schools claim toaddress the moral formation of students, and many educators enter theprofession for values-laden reasons. Yet the language of values, virtues,morality, and character are notably absent from licensure and accreditationstandards and so is formal training in moral-character education in schoolsof education. To facilitate the development of formal training in the moralwork of teaching the authors organize the literature around three trainingobjectives: Best Practice (Good Learner), Broad Character Education(Fortified Good Learner), and Intentional Moral-Character Education(Moral Self). Only the latter aims to move the Fortified Good Learner tothe Moral Self and treats moral valuation as the explicit target of education.The authors make several suggestions for doing so and conclude with somechallenges for teacher education.

    ARTICLE HISTORYReceived 3 April 2016Accepted 5 May 2016

    KEYWORDSMoral self; character; virtues;character education; bestpractice


    The study of child and adolescent development is a ubiquitous feature of preservice teachereducation, and for good reason. It is rightfully assumed that knowledge of developmental andeducational science is central to the professional craft of educators. How children learn, remember,reason, solve problems, interact with others; the factors that influence motivation, persistence, andadjustment; how schools are organized and interface with families and neighborhoods; these andother topics are crucial to successful instructional practice and to well-functioning schools.

    It is not surprising, then, that knowledge of development and educational psychology is animportant accreditation standard of teacher education programs. Indeed, learner development isthe very first of the Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) model coreteaching standards. Standard 1 affirms that that The teacher understands how learners grow anddevelop, recognizing that patterns of learning and development vary individually within and acrossthe cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional and physical areas and designs and implements devel-opmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences (Council of Chief State SchoolOfficers, 2011, p. 8). To meet this standard accredited teacher education programs almost universallymandate at least one course in developmental or educational psychology (Nucci, Drill, Larson, &Browne, 2005).

    But one topic is strangely omitted from the usual catalogue of core teacher knowledge. In contrastto cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical areas, the language of values, character, andmorality is notably absent. The moral-character formation of children is the instructional objectivethat dare not speak its name. One looks in vain for accreditation standards that compel teacherformation programs to prepare teachers to take up the moral work of teaching (Howard, 2005;

    CONTACT Daniel Lapsley [email protected] Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, 118 Haggar Hall,Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. 2016 Association of Teacher Educators

    ACTION IN TEACHER EDUCATION2016, VOL. 38, NO. 3, 194206

  • Sanger & Osguthorpe, 2011, 2013). InTASC Standard 9 does address ethical practice but narrowly,calling for reflection on personal biases (9e), advocating for ethical use of information (9f), under-standing the legal basis of student rights (9j), and professional codes of ethics (9o). What standardsdo not address is the value-laden nature of every interaction of teaching and learning or the fact thatmoral aims are intrinsic to education (Lapsley, Holter, & Narvaez, 2013). Indeed, Stengel and Tom(2006) insist that the language of morality is heard in schools every time issues of right relation andwhat is worth doing emerge in instructional lessons or within the interactions of students, teachers,and peers.1 A moral stance is implicated in the respect accorded to truth and the demand forexcellence, good effort, and mastery. Values are intrinsic to what it means to develop, to set goals,and to aspire to achieve them (Carr, 1991).

    This is worth noting because it is sometimes remarked that moral language is not, in fact, heard veryoften in classrooms and schools (Simon, 2001; Sockett & LePage, 2002). Nucci (2001) reports, for example,that the amount of moral discourse between students and teachers tends to diminish from third to fifthgrade and is vanishingly rare by seventh grade. But there is no contradiction. The immanence andinevitability of moral character education (Lapsley & Yeager, 2013) and the pervasiveness of languageabout right relation and what is worth doing (Stengel & Tom, 2006) is compatible with observations aboutthe relative absence of moral discourse in classrooms, if by moral discourse is meant explicit attention tothe ethical dimensions of lessons or of student behavior (Howard, Berkowitz, & Schaeffer, 2004).

    Morality may not be addressed explicitly, but it is never absent. In many schools the moral valuesthat saturate the daily life of classrooms are opaque and hard to see just because they are deeplyembedded in the hidden curriculum of instructional practice (Bryk, 1988; Goodlad, 1992). Whethercharacter education is hidden or transparent, implicit or intentional, there is no escaping it. It is notif character education should be taught in schools but how consciously and by what methods(Howard et al., 2004, p. 210).2

    Hence, anyone who takes up the profession of teaching is taking up the cause of moral-charactereducation and is taking on the role of moral educator in a context rife with ethical decisions andvalue commitments (Campbell, 2003). Interestingly, teachers seem to know it. Indeed, preserviceteachers are often idealistic and report altruistic reasons for entering the profession (Serow, Eaker, &Ciechalski, 1992). Many believe that schooling has a moral purpose and offer moral reasons forchoosing teaching as a career (Osguthorpe & Sanger, 2013; Sanger & Osguthorpe, 2011). Moreover,they expect to learn about moral-character education in their preservice training, or at least are infavor of developing teaching strategies in the area of moral-character development (Revell & Arthur,2007). Schoolchildren, too, at least in the United Kingdom, expect teachers to engage in moral-character and values education and believe that teachers can make a difference in contributing totheir personal moral development (Arthur, 2011).

    So moral character is omnipresent in every instructional encounter but absent from teachingstandards. It animates the life of schools, but it moves about without a sound. It attracts the idealismof teachers and the aspirations of parents and stakeholders, but it is an agenda that also gives pause ifit invites suspicions about indoctrination and the imposition of values alien to faith or family.Schools are expected to form character but are thickets of competing moral discourse, if educatorsare comfortable using moral language at all (Goodman & Lesnick, 2001).

    It is clear that training in moral-character education could not be more urgent, but where is itfound in teacher education? Few teacher education programs are intentionally and deliberatelypreparing teachers for their task as moral educators (Narvaez & Lapsley, 2008; Schwartz, 2008;Willemse, Lunenberg, & Korthagen, 2008). Teachers receive almost no preservice or in-servicetraining in moral-character education (Lickona, 1993). The best one can hope for is a few lectureson moral stage or social domain theory squeezed into a course on educational or developmentalpsychology (Nucci et al., 2005). As a result few teachers feel up to the task of moral-charactereducation (Millson, 2003). Whereas most deans agree that teacher formation should involve trainingin moral-character education, most ar