It is stated that a person’s first moral language addresses where people come from, their differing moral places of origin, and their set of beliefs attained from their environment. For instance, if children have grown up in a home where a strict religious practice is adhered to, they are more likely appealing to the same principles of moral beliefs such as, thou shall not lie, steal etc. Many religions appeal to a similar set of universal moral principles, justified and agreed upon by all. Humans, for the most part, desire what is intrinsically good; however, you have to experience what is good so that you understand what it feels like. People do not learn a language of morality unless it is practiced.
In this case study, the old code about not telling is well known. This is a method used by bullies. This is the code that allows evil to develop and flourish. Schools are no place for such a code. In this instance, the bullies needed to be confronted. This mean group of girls creating the gossip, were at first, reluctant to speak about the situation until the implementation of all three moral languages were exercised in their dialogue sessions.
The advantage of appealing to belief systems and a schools code of conduct is that students need to understand that the school expects excellent conduct from them. Nevertheless, these same students often think that not doing unkind things is enough for us to be happy with them. It is not. Students need to understand their individual responsibility for making the school what we all want it to be, and demonstrate conduct that is morally and universally ‘right’. Their responsibility requires pro activity—not neutrality. That responsibility requires acts of kindness as we look out for each other. If we see someone being excluded, we should act to include them in the group, or start another group that does include them. If we hear unkind words, we should speak kind words. If we know of unsavory things on the Internet, educators should make sure adults know, too.
The disadvantage of discussing morals and beliefs is the danger one might not be open to nor understand the reasoning behind a person’s action. This is the limitation of appealing solely to ones beliefs. We need to look at other moral languages combined. Once people are invited into the public speaking arena universal concepts of morality and care can be found.
Public speech is the most common speech of a morally pluralistic society. The language of the majority prevails so that discourse can occur despite fundamental differences in people’s points of view. Opening the lines of communication through discussion is fundamental so that, in an ideal community, they can shape and reshape truths because judgments are open to correction.
Within this case study, instant recognition of degrading gossip is vital. Universally we know a student should stop the talebearer in mid-sentence. We ought to challenge our gossips with, “Have you confronted the person with this?” To give ear to a nasty tale will not only injure our spirit but also encourage gossipers to continue their destruction. We will either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Teaching students how to develop a solution-based thought process is invaluable.
We know for now, stealing is bad, truth is good, honesty is essential, integrity is crucial, good manners matter, all people are worthy of respect and rules should be kept. Whenever we are with children, our influence should be strongly in that direction. To act or speak in a way that diminishes a child’s respect for law, for good values, for property, for liberty, and for other people, and not to act or speak when we witness the child failing to respect these things, is to deny the child the chance of developing the best possible character. These aspects are best left with a teacher, counselor or administrator to deal with. Follow up is critical. In this specific case study, their advisor teacher should allow the students to discuss problems and confide in her.
The advantage of including parents in the overall decision-making process shows the concern to connect the home and school. It demonstrates an awareness and partnership between all parties involved. The level of the discussion should appeal to the moral principles I have described in this study: belief systems and codes of conduct, care, and public speech combined. The disadvantage of including parents into this realm of problem solving is that the communication becomes more complex as increasing perspectives and input are discussed.
Care is another moral language we discuss and share rather than seeing issues from a more technical perspective. I find I have always referred to the works of Nel Noddings and the ‘Care’ perspective, as it is closely tied to the way I view life situations. To share the lingo of ‘care and nurturance,’ Nel Noddings (1984) describes educators as the ones who “are in charge of children who need to be treated with kindness and compassion, who need to grow and mature”.
As a teacher or administrator, there is sometimes the temptation to say ‘Who cares?’ Care and public speech, as moral languages, are closely related in this case study. Certainly life is easier when a blind eye is turned, for one does not have to deal with avoidance, misinformation, downright lies, and angry parents. To do nothing, however, is to deny the students a most important aspect of education—the degree of personal responsibility needed to create, inhabit, and sustain a worthwhile society.
Facebook, Twitter, T.V., the Internet, Social Media, and lenient schooling have all been blamed. Certainly, these may have influenced things to go in the wrong direction. Adult influence of the right sort can, I believe, turn things around. We adults must realize further that young people are immature—that’s what being young is, after all. Left to youth, with no advice or guidance, they will sometimes make incorrect judgments. When the age of majority arrives, they are free to make their own decisions, their own judgments. Until that day, responsible adults must teach them many things and insist on some things—yes, for their own good. Using a caring perspective allows teachers and administrators to determine a fair, balanced solution to a problem.
In this case study, we arrived at a solution through the use of face-to-face dialogue rather than the technological phenomenon, Facebook!