Development of Morality

How does moral develop? At what ages do students acquire certain ideas about right and wrong? Kohlberg (1963) has investigated such development, describing three level of moral thought, with two stages of development characteristic of each level. The levels and stages are described in the table below. These stages have been identified from the verbal responses of children and adults to moral dilemmas presented to them. One such dilemma is: Should a civil defense worker leave his post to help his family, which may have been injured in disaster, or should he stay where he is and help other? Responses to such dilemma could be based on believe that:
Stage 1. The worker should stay, or he'll be punished by the authorities
stage 2. He should go to his family because he'll worry himself to death if he doesn't find out what happened to them.
Stage 3. He should go because good husbands care about their families.
Stage 4. He should stay because the rules say he should not leave his post.
Stage 5. He probably should stay since he agreed to man such a position in an emergency, but if some special circumstance came up, he might justify his leaving.
Stage 6. He should stay because if he left he would be putting the safety of the few over that of the many, and that's not right, the people near him who are in trouble are someone's family so, and he ethically bound to take care of them. if he didn't it, he would probably feel miserable the rest of the life. Here is the table described characteristic of each level.

Kohlberg's Definition of Stages of Moral Development

Levels of Moral ThoughtStages of Moral Development
IPreconventional Level:The child responds to cultural labels of good and bad, but looks mainly at the physical or pleasure-pain effects of action, or at physical power of the rule givers1.The punishment-obedience orientation:The individual values avoidance of punishment and defers to power in its own right.2.The instrumental-relativist orientation: Right is what satisfies one's own needs or sometimes others. Human relations, as in the marketplace, are strickly a matter of reciprocity: "You scratch yours." This is fragmatic morality
IIConventional level:Meeting expectation of family, group, or nation is valuable. Regardless of immediate consequences. Loyalty to and support of the social order are valued beyond mere conformity.3. The interpersonal concordance orientation: Good behavior is what pleases or help others. Much conformity to stereotype of "appropriate" behavior. Intention are important. You earn approval by being "nice"4Authority social order-maintaining orientation: Right behavior consists of doing one's duty, respecting authority, and maintaining the given social order for its own sake.
IIIPostconventional, autonomous, or principled level: effort is made to define moral principles that are valid apart from the authority of persons holding them or one's identification with these groups.5.The social contract legalistic orientation: Utility of laws and individual rights is critically examined. Societally accepted standards are important. Personal values are relative. Procedural rules for reaching concensus are emphasized. Hence laws may be changes democratically. rational consideration can improve utility.6. The universal ethical principle orientation: Right is defined by conscience, in accordance with self-chosen, logical and comprehensive ethical principles. Right is abstract and ethical (e.g. the golden rule), not concrete and moral (e.g. the Ten Commandements). there is emphasis on reciprocity and equality of human rights. there is respect for the dignity of the individual.

The percentages of students of various ages who show these various levels of moral thought are presented in following figure. SImilar percentages have been found in such diverse places as a Malaysian Abiriginal village, a Turkish city, a Turkish village, a Mexican city, and a Mayan village. (Turiel, 1973)

Age and Relative Percentage of Moral Judgments That Fall Into One Of Three Levels of Moral Development

The question for the schools is whether or not the rate of development through are the stages can be increased through special school experiences. The answer appears to be that training programs make little long term difference.

First, our findings demonstrate the importance of the child's own stage of development as the basis from which change occurs. As we have seen, the stage at which the child is functioning sets significant limits on what he can comprehend and the types of changes that can be stimulated... It seem to be the case that judgements or ideas at the stage directly above a child's own stage may have some influence on his moral thinking, while ideas that are further above seem to have little influence.
Secondly, our studies have demonstrated that the sequence of moral development stages cannot be altered. Progress through the stages occurs in step by step fashion, without the skipping of any stage...
Finally, our studies demonstrate that the stage sequence define the natural direction of development. We have seen that the children in our studies never reverted to a stage through which they had already passed (Turiel, 1973, p. 744)

Moral development, like the description of cognitive development (see Piaget Stage (Part 1) and Piaget Stage (Part 2)) provided by Piaget, is process of growth based upon interaction the with environment. It also appear that principled moral reasoning (stage 5 and 6)depend upon formal operational thought, and that conventional moral reasoning is dependent on the ability to engage in concrete operational thought. Cognitive development and the development of moral reasoning appear to be intimately tied together.
Educator would argue that Stages 5 and 6, a postconventional morality, must be developed in our students if we are to survive as species. Educator and behavioral scientists are working on the problems of improving moral development in a technologically mature and rapidly changing society. Value-oriented curricula and teaching strategies, though difficult to develop, will become more common and, we hope, help students to grow from one stage to the next. For now, a teacher will do well to remember that when moral concern are at issue, a student can profit from exposure to beliefs at one stage above his own. Presenting moral beliefs at high levels of abstraction and complexity, which require relativistic thinking, will probably be ineffective with young children. Adolescents, on the other hand, are typically ready for exploring moral questions(Mitchell, 1975) since such questions occupy a good deal of adolescent attention.

Gage, N.L & Berliner, David C.Educational Psychology. p. 172

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