I read parts of a book called Kids of Character by David M. Shumaker and Robert V. Heckel.  The book is all about the moral development of children, which relates directly to my paper which will deal with the contemporary education of morality in children, the issues we face, and some possible solutions.  In particular I believe that we currently teach young children using fables and stories from which can be extracted laws such as “don’t lie” and “don’t cause others harm,” but I believe these rules break down in complex situations and adults, while capable of understanding advance ethical theories, still have emotional ties to the early childhood rules.

In particular I read a chapter of this book about the role of schools in character development.  Character development, or any form of ethical education, isn’t typical for most American high schools and yet the authors argue that schools have a role to play nonetheless.  They claim that just by virtue of being a community, school have the ability to socialize children into certain ways of ethical reasoning.  The authors claim “students… will be feverishly searching for signs of duplicity and hypocrisy in their teachers so as to facilitate the rationalization process that comes with making suboptimal moral choices” (pg 114).  In other words, when students perceive their teachers to act inconsistently, they use that as rationale for their own moral shortcomings.  I thought this was an interesting point and I have to admit I can imagine children justifying their immoral actions on the grounds that others were doing so, or at least behaving equally inconsistent in their beliefs and actions.

There is also a chapter about the role of sports in character development and it lists 12 positive character traits, or virtues, that can be acquired from sports.  The book then goes on to discuss the problems associated with moral development arising from sports.  The book highlights issues arising surrounding parents, coaches, fans, leagues and conferences, and school and colleges.  Essentially the conclusion is that the moral value of sports has more to do with the people and organizations influencing them, than the underlying activity of the sport itself.

I thought this book was very interesting and provided issues realted to moral development that I had not thought of.  The only thing I felt it lacked (perhaps it was better in the parts I didn’t read) was concrete examples of the ideas expressed.


4 responses »

  1. Kate says:

    Jim, I found your post to be really interesting. For my paper, i will also be discussing the role of sports in children’s character development. Some of the research that I have found indicates the academic and social benefits from sports, but also highlights upon the negative consequences, such as burnout, anxiety and physical injuries. Other research highlights that children only build character when their peers and coaches/parents set good examples. Children love to mimic others and it’s very unfortunate when there is a coach who absolutely demoralizes their players. Sports activities can help build character, especially during losses, but children will only take away those valuable lessons if their coaches and parents lead by positive example.

    • Jim says:

      Your research sounds lot like the information I have found on moral development. The more I read and encounter, the more I find that less important than the actual substance of activities or lessons, is the example set by those who are seen as authority figures. Essentially the same message are expressed in both the school and the sport example from this book, and that reinforces my hypothesis that children learn mainly through empirical examples, be they from their own lives, or stories handed down to instil a lesson.

  2. Tomas Smaliorius says:

    Sounds like really interesting stuff! Before I finished reading your post Jim I was going to say with full confidence that I have had a very influential impact from all of my coaches under which I played a sport, but after reading your post to the end I realized how accurately you described the relationship of sports on character development. There is only a small list of coaches that I can say that have deeply impacted my moral character. I still think that it would not be fair to discredit the coaches that had a less influential impact on one’s character because when you spend a significant amount of time with someone they are bound to alter the person that you are whether you agree or disagree with their actions. I think that the bad coaches serve as a good example of the person that you strive to not become, which I know for me is definitely true.

  3. […] Marc H. Best find for your paper – Marko Best post with a newfound book – Jeff Inversely proportional title and post – Jim ethics Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s