LETTER: Let the classics teach morality

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The Independent Online
From Ms Rhoda Koenig

Sir: Your leading article "Moral tales in the classroom" (15 January) states that young people are very concerned with morality, but the examples you give show that you are rather confused about its nature. You say that teenage girls wonder whether to sleep with boys, and both sexes want to know how to treat their friends. What does this have to do with morality? It has to do with the desire to be liked.

More importantly, you do not mention - indeed, no articles on the subject seem to - that if one gives children a proper education in their literature there is no need for a separate class in morality. It is impossible to teach Pride and Prejudice, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, or anything by Shakespeare or Dickens, to take just a few examples, without discussing moral as well as literary values. It also puts morality in a more interesting context than that of current events or everyday problems, which are far less likely to engage a child's imagination.

Sadly, the power acquired by those who mislabel and defend idleness, ignorance and timidity in teachers denies our children not only the beauty of their literature but its usefulness as well.

Yours sincerely,

Rhoda Koenig

London, NW3

15 January