EDUCATING FOR CHARACTER by Thomas Lickona

EDUCATING FOR CHARACTER

How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An accessible, ultimately skewed argument for moral-values education. Lickona (Education/SUNY at Cortland; Raising Good Children, 1983) sees respect and responsibility as the fourth and fifth R`s, and he presents his case for values education in a soothing no- exceptions voice with lots of examples from satisfied teachers and parents. He believes schools should teach specific moral values-- not emphasize the process of moral choice, as Kohlberg first espoused in the 70's--and though he anticipates some kinds of resistance, he has counterarguments for many objections, even that of the girl who despairs, ``We don't want to be ethical all the time.'' When Lickona identifies broadly shared values (honesty, caring), repeats teachers' anecdotes, or acknowledges the importance of narrative in engaging children in moral discussion, he sounds reasonably in command of the his material, drawing on major theorists (Gardner, Goodlad), offering many kinds of strategies--to foster cooperative attitudes, to assure timely homework-assignment completion--and acknowledging that changes don't happen quickly. But when he leaves common classroom issues for the more complicated and controversial problems of our age-- sex, AIDS, abortion--he reveals a bias that some readers will reject. Lickona's book is written ``for God'' and his ideas- -values--relating to sex education are the strongest expression of that devotion. He opposes all premarital sex and sees both homosexuality and masturbation as violations of ``God's imperative that sex be reserved for a man and woman united in marriage.'' Lickona goes beyond Tipper Gore in recognizing forces outside the school that put stress on young lives, and he knows the influence of a school's moral climate (``Schools inevitably teach good or bad values in everything they do''), so for many this neatly organized dismissal of relativist approaches will be a call to action, a schoolhouse extension of Raising Good Children. For others, his underlying beliefs and impatience with genuine contradiction will be the larger issue.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-553-07570-5
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991