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Can Ethics Be Taught?

Popularity 7Viewed 2084 times 2014-9-24 21:22 |Personal category:思考|System category:Life| ethics, education, morality

        According to Oxford advanced learner’s English-Chinese dictionary, ethics refers to moral principles that control or influence a person’s behavior. Admittedly, moral principles can be taught orally or in the written form, so ethics correspondingly can be taught. Dating back to the past, no matter in the east or the west, great thinkers like Confucius and Socrates all set a good example to their students in the respect of how to be a real man with percept and practice; evidently, they brought out numerous great masters who also set up examples for next generations from mind and conduct. In the eye of the definition, moral issues concerning ethics can be taught and are of great significance to the historical development of human beings if well taught.

        On the level of education, teaching mainly consists of impartment in word and performance in reality. It is widely acknowledged that through teaching no matter in what form can ethics be introduced to people and be rooted into their mind gradually from all aspects. Specifically, a person who plays a role as an educator tells the educated how to distinguish between the ethical and the unethical in word, and then he practices in person subconsciously demonstrating to them in life; as a result, the educated tends to be influenced and subtly understand and accept those principles. Hence, in terms of concrete practices in education, ethics can be taught. 

        Generally speaking, in the course of a person’s whole life, his moral ideals are built up, influenced and strengthened step by step, for which the environment around plays an essential part. Great educator Plato emphasizes the importance of early education in his book “The Republic”, saying that preconceptions at a young age are entrenched and hard to change. Because there is no denying that infants come to this world without the ability to tell right from wrong. Regarding his view, family education including behaviors and attitudes of parents wields a vital function in bringing up a child with ethical judgment. Evidently, children without any forms of ethical education tend to perform differently and are more likely to do something evil when they grow up compared with children who receive generally good family ethical education. Supposing that an old man gets on a full bus without empty seat, if a young boy’s mother takes the initiative to replace the seat for the old man, then this boy may be influenced and imitate his mother next time. This action is an effective way of teaching, which helps plant ethics in the boy’s mind. Therefore, ethics-teaching is practicable and is of great benefit for young kids’ future growth. 

        To conclude, ethics definitely can be taught. From its definition, moral principles can be imparted and passed down from generations to generations. Meanwhile, from the perspective of education, it is doable both in oral teaching and behavior modeling. Finally, examples show that most people who do something unethical in the society do not receive good ethical education in childhood. Hence, ethic-teaching is not only viable but also exceedingly necessary and significant. Environment including family, school and the whole society shall pay attention to the moral ideals development of people inside, especially of young people. In this sense, social harmony and stability are prone to be basically guaranteed.  

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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