Right, wrong and education

Consider these news stories:

Pupils will no longer have to be taught the difference between “right and wrong” under draft plans put forward by England’s exams regulator.

via BBC NEWS | Education | ‘Right and wrong’ lessons to end.

Parents should avoid telling their children what is “right and wrong” when discussing sex education, according to a new government leaflet.

via Parents advised to stay away from ‘right or wrong’ in sex advice – Telegraph.

In the context of this moral relativism  and David Cameron’s determination to fix our broken society, Roche’s 1969 book “Education in America” is a fascinating insight into how education has come to fail to prepare individuals to choose freely within a fixed moral framework, to think and act for themselves. He explains, for example, that:

Traditionally, education has not been concerned so exclusively with the mere manipulation of the individual. The teacher found himself within a framework of values, within a situation faced in common by all men. To teach, therefore, did not mean to manipulate the young into some “socially acceptable” pattern. Instead, teaching meant sharing with the student the mystery of being human. Today’s scientistic approach promises to do away with the human condition entirely, putting its own goals and means in place of the individual human being and his feelings, aspirations, and qualifications. C.S. Lewis has predicted that such a change in our educational and social philosophy is a move toward “the abolition of man.”

Throughout history, many have understood that a good society requires both liberty and boundaries. Individuals need to be sufficiently educated to make responsible choices, but this is not our trajectory today: we deny standards of behaviour, of morality, of good and evil, and so deny the possibility of education in any meaningful sense.

A patron saint of the intellectual climate of twentieth century America was J. Allen Smith […]. Smith, in a moment of reflection, apparently had misgivings about the course of events: “The trouble with us reformers is that we made reform a crusade against standards. Well, we smashed them all, and now neither we nor anyone else have anything left.” 

The experience of thousands of years of human history on which we stand is that this will not promote society’s healthy progress. It’s time to nurture responsibility, discipline and intellect: it’s time for change.

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