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How to instill a sense of morality in the 21st century? Bombarded with sex, foul language, violence, and overall chaos, what are some of the best approaches to still motivate the upcoming generation (the one that will rule the world in the next 5-10 years) about the importance of morals for a good, healthy social life?

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In many ways, the pursuit to teach students (and our own kids) how to think for themselves ultimately takes care of this problem in addition to many others.  I often get overwhelmed with the sheer number of odds working against those of us still contributing to the greater good, and...

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In many ways, the pursuit to teach students (and our own kids) how to think for themselves ultimately takes care of this problem in addition to many others.  I often get overwhelmed with the sheer number of odds working against those of us still contributing to the greater good, and have resigned myself to focusing all of my energy on my own offspring for now.

Ultimately, there are daily opportunities to give a kid the easy way out, or to take a minute to get him to think about how his actions affect others, now and later.  This, to me, is the easiest way to get the idea of morality across.  Like others have said, there seems to be a lack of attention (in parenting, government, etc.) to personal responsibility, so whatever I can do to progress this notion, I'm willing to put in a little time toward.

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Several studies done over a couple of decades reveal that the ethical and moral values that children possess are in place by age 6.  Therefore, it is apparent that parents are the ones responsible for instilling values in their children.  All that others can do is reinforce these values.  Interestingly, in one family of 11 children, the first 4 were sent to parochial schools; however, after there were conflicts with the administration and the father, the middle children attended public schools and he gave them their religious and moral instruction following family supper together.  When some years passed, the youngest children received their schooling back in the parochial schools.  Now, although the oldest and the youngest children had instruction every day at school, it is the middle children who attend church more often, who express the importance of virtue, and who live the more exemplary lives.  Obviously, the stronger involvement of their father in moral and religious education made the difference as he reinforced his sound values more frequently with the children, knowing that they would not receive instruction elsewhere.

History and English teachers especially are afforded opportunities to reinforce moral values through instruction in the "tide of times" as Shakespeare writes, and the recordings of the human heart in literature.  Nevertheless, the instilling of these values mainly rests with parents who must be vigilant at all times.  There is no room for permissiveness in the raising of children; they must be supervised in a loving way, monitored on technology, and shown how to behave and act towards others.  Involvement with their children averts many a problem for parents. For, teachers and religious leaders can only reinforce what a child has already learned from her/his home by exemplifying integrity.

Morals

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I think we tend to overestimate the effects of society and the media on the socialization of young people, versus that of their parents.  As a public educator, I see all types of students and levels of moral formation.  When I meet their parents at conference time, it often makes sense and the old adage "Apple doesn't fall far from the tree" seems to hold true in many cases. 

Spending years growing up in their parents' household, going to their church, hearing their opinions and getting their discipline have a far greater effect, in my opinion, than other socializing agents.  I also don't believe that the current generation is any more or less moral than ones previous.  My parents thought my generation in the 1980s was in trouble, but it didn't hold true.

So, modeling moral behavior, reinforcing it, but most of all, teaching it would seem to be the most effective approach in my opinion.

How to Teach Morals to Children

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Every major religion, and indeed every secular society, has some version of what I grew up calling the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Consider:http://www.teachingvalues.com/goldenrule.html

If all persons followed that one principle consistently, in all their dealings with others, the vast majority of the social problems in today's world would vanish.

 

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I wholeheartedly agree with Post #4 - religion provides the solution but it has become irrelevant in the 21st century, because as the Bible says, "Professing to be wise, they became fools." Religion has also been maligned, ridiculed, and ignored - and look at the fine mess we're in today with no morals, or at the very least a dwindling, progressively faster decline of morals.

A host of people will disagree with this and that's up to each of them individually. However, science, various theories foisted upon us as truth, technological advances, education, and a free-for-all do as you will, come and go as you may approach to life, has not solved any of mankind's most serious and pressing problems. It all begins with the great commandment Jesus Christ offered to mankind, but it is ignored, and the result is the world today - societies in moral decline worldwide.

The answers on how to instill morality in the 21st century are there for the taking, if we can get past the human penchant for disowning anything that tries to tell us how we should live our lives... and how's that working out for all of us? Are we doing a bang up job? 

New Testament Letters

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I think we still attempt to instill morals like we always have. It is true, as you say, that we are "Bombarded with sex, foul language, violence, and overall chaos," but we still have moral standards. I think these standards are ingrained, innate, and we couldn't get rid of them if we tried. I agree that the bombardment has to have had some effect on how moral our behavior is at times, but short of becoming a dictatorial society, that's just how it's going to be. Teaching kids to think analytically and to be self-reflective will help to some degree.

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When I taught history, I did my best to use historical situations of injustice to teach morality.  To do this I took historical examples that I hoped would appal the students and appeal to their conscience, and then applied them to their daily life and hoped they could see the connection.  My end goal was for the emotions they felt to carry over to their daily life.

For example, if I taught the holocaust to a group of freshmen I would spend a considerable amount of time getting the students to talk about their emotions and why they felt it was wrong.  Perhaps later that lesson or even the next day I would describe a situation where I saw a student being bullied.  I would ask them to talk in groups to see the similarities and differences between the two situations.  While the bullying isn't as extreme, a student would always come back to the idea that maybe the holocaust started with bullying as well but progressed. 

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