Is Moral Education Important?

01 December 2010

What EXACTLY is Morality? Many people have interpreted it wrongly, including myself.

In Malaysia, secondary school Moral Education is dumb as it requires students to memorize IN EXACT, WORD FOR WORD the definition of each moral value in order to score marks in the examinations.

However, when I entered college, the Moral Education is far different and is based on psychological and philosophical theories proposed (by known people such as Aristotle, Kant and so on) throughout the past as a logical means to convey information about morality.

In this post, I'm going to talk about Moral Education that is taught in my college, which is through psychological, philosophical and religious aspects and theories.

I've just finished my final examinations for this subject, and these are examples of what my coursemates say...

"Moral studies can rot in hell now. Just keep your ass there and I'll be in peace. Thanks."


Immanuel Kant. Many criticisms on this guy.

The Main Importance of Moral Education
From what I realized, MORAL EDUCATION in my college did not TEACH us how to apply morality. It has basically provided theories and philosophy proposed by wise people and their criticisms. This allows us to be more aware of HOW WE DETERMINE MORALITY, as different individuals have different views on it (egoism? utilitarianism? how do you determine what is moral or not?).

There is no supposedly correct theory, and for every theory proposed, there were criticisms. We were educated on ALL theories, including how certain religions think. When we learn it the philosophical way, we learn how to consider, accept and reason things out that covers many aspects. We learn WISDOM. THAT is the aim of the subject.

This subject is talking about how the WORLD thinks, and how different groups/individuals may apply different values. We always say that in the real world, we do not care about moral values, but morality is not as simple as you think. Whatever we do, whatever we think is UNDER the influence of our moral conciousness.

For Example, How are Selfish People Applying Morality?
From what I have learned in this subject, this is what morality means.

Morality is a social instrument that guides individuals and groups in their daily lives. All these concepts refer to the concept of human behavior that deals with right or wrong and also known as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

This, in what MORALITY means. It means the "CONCEPT OF HUMAN BEHAVIOUR THAT DEALS WITH RIGHT OR WRONG", it does not mean to be respectful, good or considerate, which I once thought so.

As you can see, it is a concept of human behaviour that may vary from individual to individual. Morality applies to an individual. A selfish person is actually not "immoral" as we speak, but is actually applying one of the theories of ethics called Egoism.

Egoism Cartoon. Notice that Egoism is good when a person is of good nature like Gabe. Egoism is not entirely wrong.

Egoism is the theory where if an act brings benefits to self, it is considered moral/good. So are we correct to say that selfish people are bad and immoral? We only say so because we have our own understanding and theory of morality, and selfishness is contradicting our own moral laws.

Morality as the Cause of Conflict
Learning this subject well enough would have taught you by now that it is due to the difference in morality, values and beliefs that cause conflicts.

Whatever seems rude to you, may not seem rude to others.
Whatever seems nice to you, may not seem nice to others.

You may think doing something is okay and benefits others. But some may think that you are overboard and trying to pick on them.

Moral Education presents you WHY and HOW the many different theories of human behaviour and judgement that results in conflict. They even proposed strategies of solving conflict, and the most important one was SEEKING COMPROMISE.

Some people believe praying helps, some do not.

So What Exactly is Good and Bad?
In what I have been taught, the good and bad can only be determined through LOGICAL REASONING. This is what philosophers have been trying to do, everything must be logical and there must be a reason. Question everything. Most of us had already treated something as bad or wrong without even considering it because it is customary.

But due to how different individuals can reason things differently in different situations based on different experiences, this is relative as well.

For example, the act of dishonesty may be considered bad. However, sometimes we have to lie in order to make people happy. Thus, if we say that whatever is bad are the acts that hurt people, it may not be correct because sometimes we have to do so for the good of others. Whatever that is good brings happiness may also be incorrect because anyone can be happy over anything (you can feel happy whenever you want to) as long as they feel happy to do it.

Good and evil?

So in my opinion, the good and the bad can only be based on ABSOLUTE values with logical reasoning that all parties involved benefit from it and CAN (not must) apply the rule. They are values that can be applied to everyone. For example,

STEALING violates human rights.
Human rights is the freedom to do whatever a human wants as an average person.
(Everyone has rights, humans can do whatever they want by nature)
Stealing takes away a person's possessions and his rights to his own possessions.
It benefits the thief, but brings loss to the victim.
Cannot be applied to everyone because nobody wants to lose his possessions without his/her consent.
Therefore, stealing is wrong.

Of course, there will be some arguments about this, but I guess this (utilitarianism based ethics) is the most logical fundamentals of right and wrong.

Many people think that a certain act is good or bad without even realizing that is is relative and subjective to different individual's thoughts and beliefs.

Moral Education teaches us not to blame people solely on what we BELIEVE is wrong.

Belief is not the right way in doing anything. Logic and reasoning is. To know the correct logic and reasons, we must study and have a very deep understanding on how different people think and act. In other words, we must be wise. Moral Education is teaching us how to do this, and most of us don't even realize it. So is it important? In my opinion, yes it is.