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Integrity in schools, the mirror of our society.

Updated: May 22


Some time ago in moments of relaxation, browsing social media, my attention was drawn to a post. In summary, the post said the following:


In a school in Greece, during the elections for the 15-member school council, a student bribed his classmates (5 euros/per student) to vote for him and get elected.


As I read, my mind was flooded with thoughts. Is it fake news? How did the kids react to the bribe? Did the teachers intervene? Why did the student resort to bribery?


When we talk about ethics, we all assume it is something theoretical, a philosophical concept that mostly concerns "others" and not us, or when it concerns us, the same "rules" don't apply. We do not have to confront our "immoral" actions if they are not so serious or if "everyone does the same". A rationalization and normalization so that we don't have to introspect on our actions and feelings individually and as a society.


But how does this affect education and children?


According to Georgopapadakou and a group of scholars (1990), education is the attempt of the adult generation to influence the minor generation through intellectual, moral, and physical education according to a certain plan and for a certain purpose.

Thus, adults try to mold the new generations with the spiritual and moral values they want to have in their societies. But when we see the moral problems that young people face almost daily in schools, we can easily see that they are identical to those we face in the wider society. 

 



 

And so, the question remains. Why do children face the moral problems that the wider society also faces?


The short answer is because the school community is a miniature of society.

But if we could elaborate a little further, the reasons are many. One of the reasons is that the state is not sensitized, so doesn’t integrate ethics learning into the school curriculum, but relies on sporadic educational programmes or awareness-raising.

Another reason is that the developmental level of teachers' moral judgment is not satisfactory (Chang, 1994; Cummings et al., 2001), so teachers cannot educate their students when they themselves do not have a developed level of moral judgment. Ryan and Bohlin (1999) argued that any attempt to implement ethical education programs will not be successful if the teacher does not have a good disposition and moral character.

And finally, one of the most important reasons is the inadequate guidance that children receive from their families on ethical issues.


But how do we move towards a better future?


Improving moral awareness in schools requires a gradual approach, as every small step towards this goal is important and valuable. One way is to integrate ethical issues into the curriculum at all levels of education. This can be achieved through specific ethics lessons, but also through the integration of ethical aspects in various subjects.

In addition, it is important to teach basic skills such as decision-making, critical thinking, cooperation and problem-solving. These skills contribute to students' moral development by preparing them to deal with ethical dilemmas.

Also, continuous training of teachers is essential to upgrade their skills in teaching moral values and behavior. This ensures that teachers are equipped to effectively impart moral values to students.

In this effort, promoting open dialogue in the classroom and at home on ethical issues is key. Such dialogue enhances students' intellectual inquiry and promotes the development of their critical thinking.

Finally, involving children's families in educational programmes and events that reinforce moral values is vital. This creates a collaborative approach between school and family for the comprehensive moral development of students.

 


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