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2017-10-11 18:01:14 来源:新东方在线专四专八资料下载





  Children Must be Taught to Tell Right from Wrong

  William Kilpatrick

  Many of today’s young people have a difficult time seeing any moral dimension (道德层面) to their actions. There are a number of reasons why that’s true, but none more prominent than a failed system of education that eschews (回避) teaching children the traditional moral values that bind Americans together as a society and a culture. That failed approach, called “decision-making,” was introduced in schools 25 years ago. It tells children to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. It replaced “character education. (品格教育)” Character education didn’t ask children to reinvent the moral wheel (浪费时间重新发明早已存在的道德标准); instead, it encouraged them to practice habits of courage, justice and self-control.

  In the 1940s, when a character education approach prevailed, teachers worried about students chewing gum; today they worry about robbery and rape.

  Decision-making curriculums pose thorny (棘手的) ethical dilemmas to students, leaving them with the impression that all morality is problematic and that all questions of right and wrong are in dispute. Youngsters are forced to question values and virtues they’ve never acquired in the first place or upon which they have only a tenuous (薄弱的) hold. The assumption behind this method is that students will arrive at good moral conclusions if only they are given the chance. But the actual result is moral confusion.

  For example, a recent national study of 1,700 sixth- to ninth-graders revealed that a majority of boys considered rape to be acceptable under certain conditions. Astoundingly, many of the girls agreed.

  This kind of moral illiteracy is further encouraged by values-education (价值观教育) programs that are little more than courses in self-esteem (自尊). These programs are based on the questionable assumption that a child who feels good about himself or herself won’t want to do anything wrong. But it is just as reasonable to make an opposite assumption: namely, that a child who has uncritical self-regard will conclude that he or she can’t do anything bad.

  Such naive self-acceptance results in large part from the non-directive (无指导性的), non-judgmental (无是非观的), as-long-as-you-feel-comfortable-with-your-choices mentality (思想) that has pervaded (渗透) public education for the last two and one-half decades. Many of today’s drug education, sex education and values-education courses are based on the same 1960s philosophy that helped fuel the explosion in teen drug use and sexual activity in the first place.

  Meanwhile, while educators are still fiddling with (胡乱摆弄) outdated “feel-good” approaches, New York, Washington, and Los Angeles are burning. Youngsters are leaving school believing that matters of right and wrong are always merely subjective. If you pass a stranger on the street and decide to murder him because you need money—if it feels right—you go with that feeling. Clearly, murder is not taught in our schools, but such a conclusion—just about any conclusion—can be reached and justified using the decision-making method.

  It is time to consign (寄出) the fads (风尚) of “decision-making” and “non-judgmentalism” to the ash heap of failed policies, and return to a proved method. Character education provides a much more realistic approach to moral formation. It is built on an understanding that we learn morality not by debating it but by practicing it.


  Summary of “Children Must be Taught to Tell Right from Wrong”

  In his essay “Children Must be Taught to Tell Right from Wrong,” William Kilpatrick argues fervently that the “decision-making” approach to the moral education of American youth, which replaced “character education” 25 years ago, has prevented juveniles from behaving and thinking in accordance with the traditional moral principles that are fundamental to American society.

  According to Kilpatrick, decision-making methods instill in students a wrong belief that all norms of morality are subjective constructs with only relative truth in them and therefore can be interpreted flexibly and even questioned. This belief deprives them of the chance to secure solid moral standards and induces misconceptions about what should be clearly right or wrong.

  In parallel with this inadequacy of the “decision-making” approach are the unexpected outcomes of those values-education programs focusing on students’ self-esteem that subscribe to the “non-judgmental” mindset dominating “decision-making” curriculums. Their mistaken assumption that feeling good warrants morality excuses students from criticizing and disciplining their own behaviors.

  Basing his conclusion on his analysis of the fundamental flaws of the decision-making approach, Kilpatrick finally proposes an immediate shift back to character education which he believes teaches morality more effectively by emphasizing practice instead of discussion.

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