Thursday April 10, 2008

Moral Education

The top priority for American schools is moral education over intellectual education, according to a new book co-edited by UD education professor Thomas Hunt.

Recent news reports tell shocking stories of teen violence recorded and broadcasted on YouTube, plots by elementary students to harm teachers and classmates and the rising number of teens with sexually transmitted diseases.

These stories and others renew concern about moral education in public schools, according to University of Dayton education professor Thomas Hunt who co-edited Moral Education: A Handbook, released this year.

The two-volume handbook, published by Praeger, analyzes hundreds of topics in the field including bullying, cheating, civic education, drug and alcohol education, honesty, self-esteem and more.

The book is intended as a reference tool with brief, unbiased topical entries that include recommended readings for more information, Hunt said.

"From the time of the signing of the Constitution to today, moral education has been the uppermost concern of American schooling over intellectual education," Hunt said. "Citizens look to the schools to shape children and make society a better place to live."

According to the book's introduction, which provides a brief history of moral education in America, Gallup polls from 1976 through 2002 placed lack of discipline, drug abuse, fighting, violence and gangs as among the major problems facing American public schools.

And although religious books such as the Bible and the New England Primer are no longer used in public education, they have been replaced by secular methods of teaching citizenship and common values.

"We've had an evolution of moral education from a biblical foundation to natural moorings," Hunt said.

In addition to Hunt, editors for Moral Education: A Handbook include four faculty members at the University of Notre Dame. They are liberal studies professor F. Clark Power, director of the Alliance for Catholic Education's Leadership Program Ronald J. Nuzzi and psychology professors Darcia Narvaez and Daniel K. Lapsley.

Hunt has written more than 100 articles and books on education, with several focusing on morality and values.

For more information, contact Meagan Pant, assistant director of media relations, at 937-229-3256 or mpant1@udayton.edu.