The Character of Environmental Citizenship: Virtue Education for Raising Morally Responsible Individuals
Description: Surely, moral education is not merely intended to result in theoretical knowledge, but instead attempts to change people's behavior. However, when examining and evaluating current trends in moral education, it appears that hitherto moral education has fallen short of its goal to make people better. In this paper, I try to determine what has caused this perceived failure of moral education and conclude that approaches that focus on teaching moral reasoning skills rather than on teaching actual moral content, i.e., values and virtues, are generally ineffective for moral improvement. However, a more traditional form of moral education, namely character education, appears to be a viable alternative to the moral reasoning methods. Since character education can be regarded as the practical application of virtue ethics, I first describe and evaluate virtue ethics and defend it against potential criticisms. I then examine what methods are effective for teaching virtues, and how such methods can potentially be incorporated into the curriculum. Since virtues cannot be taught through theoretical instruction, the acquisition of good habits constitutes the necessary foundation for the establishment of good moral character. Some methods that have been suggested for laying the foundation for virtue are the use of stories, role play, as well as the inclusion of physical and outdoor activities, etc. Furthermore, habituation constitutes the basis for the acquisition of good habits, and as such it requires the application of rewards and punishment by a caring tutor, who at the same time can serve as a role model for virtuous behavior. Finally, I extrapolate if and how character education can be employed to make people more environmentally conscious citizens. I conclude that environmental virtue or character education is the most effective method of environmental education, since it affects how an individual understands, views, and subsequently interacts with the natural ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Lindemann, Monica A.