Letter : Moral education or indoctrination?

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The Independent Online
Sir: Politicians want morality to be taught, but you consider the attempt absurd (leading article, 28 October)

If by "teaching morality" we mean getting children to obey a set of rules, then it is not absurd to attempt this. It is called indoctrination, and many pedagogic, psychological and sociological devices and to do this have been used over generations, often achieving a high success rate.

If by "teaching morality" we mean a process in which we give children and young people an understanding of the fundamental moral perspectives in our society and give them practice in making their own well-informed judgements, then, again, it can be done. Indeed, there are educational programmes in schools, colleges and universities in the UK doing just that. In the University of Glamorgan undergraduates in many disciplines and professions, including nurses and police officers, take such courses.

It is not absurd to set out to "teach morality" but we have to be clear what we mean by it, and what we intend to do.


Principal Lecturer in Moral Philosophy and Professional Ethics, University of Glamorgan

London SW3