Describe the moral atmosphere of your junior high and high school. Were there any overt attempts made to teach morality and encourage students to develop their values? If so, what were they? If...

Describe the moral atmosphere of your junior high and high school. Were there any overt attempts made to teach morality and encourage students to develop their values? If so, what were they? If not, do you think there should have been? Do you think it could have had a positive effect on the students with whom you went to school? Do you think this is even an area that schools should be involved in, or is it most appropriate to leave it to parents?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Obviously, as an eNotes educator, I do not know where you went to school nor anything about the moral atmosphere of your school; it is unlikely to be identical to that of the school I attended before you were born. Thus I will focus on the final set of questions about the teaching of morality.

Schools share with parents certain duties of teaching and enforcing moral codes. To take a relatively non-controversial example, schools enforce rules against violence. As a society, we believe that we do not resolve conflicts by killing or assaulting one another. This is taught both overtly in the attitudes of our readings and discussions and also in school rules that will expel students for violent acts.

Schools also have some responsibility to teach about and enforce other commonly accepted laws; illegal drugs are forbidden, as are use of cigarettes and alcohol. Again, these rules and attempts to educate students about drugs and prevent teen substance abuse are relatively uncontroversial. Even in current debates over nationwide legalization of marijuana, most people agree that use of alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana should be age-restricted.

An area that is somewhat more controversial is sexual mores, as they vary with culture and religion. On the one hand, one can argue that teen STDs and pregnancy are a problem, and that the more students know about how to prevent them the better. Some people, however, feel that sexual education should be limited to teaching abstinence and should either not discuss homosexuality or present it only in a negative light. My own belief is that one should give students detailed and comprehensive medical information, and then survey the views of various different cultures objectively, explaining that different cultures have different views of how one ought to behave, but still distinguishing between culturally mandated traditions (i.e. whether premarital sex, polygamy, etc. are considered ethical) and science (unprotected sex can lead to STDs and pregnancy).