Sunday, July 06, 2008

How do children become good?

This week I begin the first of two workshops devoted to "Children's and Adolescents' Moral Development" with teachers from public, private and parochial schools.   In the course of our week-long encounter, we'll think about psychological, philosophical, pedagogical and personal perspectives on how children be and become good people.  We'll explore in depth the role of teachers and schools in fostering goodness.   

Because it's a good idea to unearth prior understandings (and misconceptions) when beginning any new learning journey,  I'm posting this to invite my student/colleagues to share their own perceptions at this point.   So have at it, folks:   How do children become good? 

50 comments:

Sally Falkow said...

Children become good when parents and teachers concentrate on and validate the right things they do. Thank them when they do what you ask. Acknowledge them when they do something right or do their chores. Give them a stars and black marks system and reward the stars - don't only focus on the penalties.

Gina Stepp said...

It's good to see an approach that consults so many different perspectives. It's so easy to just look through one familiar lens when approaching problems.

As a mother of three and Family editor for an online journal, I have personally found it interesting to watch how new discoveries in neuroscience are bringing many disciplines together to explore human relationships and the human mind. As far as child development is concerned, neuroscience is teaching us that in some ways parents are literally sculpting the brains of their children as they raise them, and the sculpting begins in infancy as parents respond to a child's basic needs for positive human relationships. Aggression and fear are regulated by the circuitry that is wired during parent/child bonding and attachment, and while biology does throw us some curves, the good news now seems to be that parents can work to give their children the best possible leg up.

Three books I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to raise "good children" would include Martin Seligman's The Optimistic Child, Louis Cozolino's The Neuroscience of Human Relationships and John Bowlby's first volume from his Attachment series.

Anonymous said...

I believe children become "good" when they have other people model appropriate behaviors, such as how we conduct ourselves and interact with others. They need to observe people who value life and live their lives with integrity. Children need to be taught how to respect themselves first and then how to respect other people.

Anonymous said...

Children become good when there is structure in the home and the parents are involved in their child's life. Children need to be taught the proper behaviors and what is socially acceptable within the community. Anyone involved in the child's life (ie.teachers, parents, principals)are responsible for teaching a child to behave.

Brian Mattern said...

Children become what we would consider "good kids" through positive examples and experiences throughout their lives. Parents, teachers, friends, and media influence children in many ways. Doing our best to keep children, especially when they are younger, away from negative aspects of the world, will help them grow morally. We must provide children with positive uplifting examples of how to act and think. Of course, by nature children will be "bad" on occasion, but how we nurture them when they are young will help them make better decisions when they are older.

Steve Spealman said...

I feel that children become good based on a few different factors. Primarily I think that it is the environment that they are brought up in and how they are taught the difference between right and wrong. Parents have a very strong role in in determining a child's morality. However, I also believe that children are born with certain intrinsic values. This can go a long way in determining how much of the environment and teaching their parents have provided will affect them.

Kevin Kurtz said...

I think children need to be in good environments that encourage and reward good behavior. This includes positive peer/"coaching" pressure to lead kids to the right choices. At the same time, children need to be educated, because good choices are not always clear and simple (maybe the good choice is the "lesser of all evils"). They need to be able to examine situations logically in order to make the best decision given the circumstances.

april spoerl said...

Children become good when parents, teachers, and other adults provide an environment where positive actions are rewarded and negative actions are corrected. Children who are provided with limits and guidelines for good behavior respond by working to please adults by behaving correctly. The ultimate goal of course is for children to internalize these appropriate behaviors.

Alecia Carcamo said...

This is a tough question because who's definition of "good" are we going by? Often children can experience problems when they enter school because their parents' definition of good is quite different than what the teachers or mainstream culture/ school may say. For example, many parents of my students teach that it is perfectly justified to physically hit or fight with another student when disrespected. Students are then punished for exhibiting this behavior when they enter school, which could cause confusion. But aside from this discrepancy I think students become good when the positive values and behaviors taught at home are reinforced through exposure to other adults in that child's life. That child begins to see that those behaviors get them praise, acceptance and eventually success.

Angie Kirkessner said...

First I must say that the term "good" contrasts with the term "bad." I believe that people in general are born with an internal sense of right and wrong or "good and bad." The goal of society as a whole is to foster self-reflective individuals who are recognized for their value. In other words, children do not need to become good they just need the encouragement, recognition, and expectations from people who are morally engaged in our world. The presence of immorality in a child's world also provides opportunity for development of moral qualities.

Tina Warfel said...

Children become good by watching role models. These are teachers, parents and other adults that the child looks up to that make good decisions and model good, moral behavior.

Maureen McCann said...

Children become good when they see examples of what good looks like. They need to see parents and teachers conducting themselves as positive role models. They need to hear positive comments when they have done something correctly and need to have explanations given to them when they do something incorrect.

Anonymous said...

This is my second year teaching. I'm also teaching Alternative Education. In answer to the question, "How do children become good", I am hoping to learn a lot to take back into my classroom.
Sue K.

Anonymous said...

Children learn from those around them. They learn values and behaviors from parents, teachers, and their friends. Due to this fact, the greater the time spent with the child, the greater the influence.

Children also become good by observing those around them. This means that parents, teachers, other adults, and friends need to be modeling the behaviors that they would like to instill in the child.

Rick Landis

Anonymous said...

Children will become good when we as educators stop hiding the connection between the academic and the moral. When children realize that learning how to behave is as important or more important than all of the test-centered information that they are bombarded with, the classroom will start to become a more caring, home-like environment. This caring will spread to their family and hopefully to the community that they live in.

diane millhouse

Lisa Meyer said...

I believe that children become good when teachers and parents model good behavior for students. It also helps if there is a reward system in place that stress the positive aspects of behavior. Many parents expect their children to "do as they say and not as they do." Not all students will be receptive to these ideas, but one needs to strive for the ideal, remembering that not every student whose lives you touch will make it right away."

J Fortier said...

Chidren become "good" when they see positive examples and receive reinforcement from important people in their lives. Some chidren clearly require more guidance than others, but all children need some sort of direction.

Anonymous said...

Students become good by encouragement. Coaches, teachers, and parents involvement in their lives help to make a child 'good'. Self-esteem and becoming 'good' is fostered in many ways which helps a child feel good about himself inside and the outside which is visible appears to have a healthy 'goodness' which comes from within. -R...

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that anyone knows why some children are "good" and other children are "not good". I want to believe that with a good family life (good and caring parents), and good education that all children would be "good" but I do not think that is always true. Cathy Gerth

Anonymous said...

I believe that "good" is intrinsic in all of us. It just needs to be nurtured, throughout the formative years, through responsible adults and positive environmental factors, specifically; "good" isn't taught. A child is "good" in response to those factors where he has respect for himself/herself and others, and can respond appropriately in situations.

Middle Class said...

I think children's morality is somewhat intrinsic, but is also formed, molded, and changed during their lives through a variety of factors, including family, friends, teachers, and the media.

Anonymous said...

Children become good when they have parents that instill postive moral values and people in their lives that model good attributes and behavior.

Anonymous said...

Children pattern their behavior on the modeling they see from their parents, teachers, other children and the responses they get in return for their behavior. As a young mother I saw and heard my children mimicing my voice, both good and bad. The same thing happens in my classroom.

Anonymous said...

Of course teachers play a role in promoting good behavior in children. But I think the development of kids behavior begins much earlier than the first day of their school experience. Kids need to see parents and other adults behaving appropriately. They need structure, feedback, and high expectations at home.

Anonymous said...

Children become good when they are taught proper behaviors at home and reinforced in school. Parents need to acknowledge them when they do something good; not just reprimand them when they do something wrong. This behavior should also be used at school. Having positive role models both at home and school are beneficial to developing morality in school aged children.

Lesley said...

Are we concerned with good as meaning law- abiding? Good as meaning considerate? Good as meaning following the dominant culture's standards of "good?" Each facet brings different implications. As an educator, I have expectations that I set for my classroom, but I understand that they are all defined by my own culturally-shaped ideas of good. I'm hestitant to give a set definition of good.

saddle14 said...

Children's parents'/guardian are a major contributor to a child's moral behavior. Parent's value system and interaction with the child and others shape how a child interacts with others.

Anonymous said...

Children are born with a right to choose good or bad. However, they need to know the difference between good and bad. This needs to not only be modeled by all adults around by also taught directly and indirectly in all areas and aspects of their life. -CN

bcraig said...

I believe that children need "good" role models and experiences to become good. They do need to make mistakes and learn from the mistakes. They can't be held by the hand every where they go forever. Role models would be the parents, teachers, coaches, adult caregivers, and anyone that the child comes in contact with. A good peer group with access to parents who have the same values as you and your family will help make good children.

Anonymous said...

I believe children are influenced by many different factors. I think that children learn to be "good" at home. I think that parents are the #1 influence in starting the process. I also feel that religious instruction plays a big role in teaching children good behaviors. I feel that it is my responsibility to teach my daughter right from wrong and I try to do so through modeling and also by instilling Christian values in her at an early age.

Anonymous said...

I feel like my school has always kept morals at the forefront of what we do. We've always said that making connections to our students is so very important and this is possible with all students no matter what their background. I'm excited to learn ways to incorporate the purposeful teaching of morals in my classroom.

Anonymous said...

A child's environment has a lot to do with how children learn to be good. A parents' modeling and those people in the community who give support have a bearing on a child's moral development.

Anonymous said...

I believe children need to know the difference first between what is good and what is bad. Then they are able to be influenced positively once they can identify with that good behavior. Parents, teachers, coaches, siblings, etc....all have a direct relationship with how children learn and acquire the good behaviors that we want them to demonstrate. Reinforcement also plays a major role because children need that encouragement to continue doing good things and see that their goodness is noticed.

Anonymous said...

Children become good as a result of their upbringing and life experiences. The people in a child's life make a huge impact on whether or not they become "good." These people set an example in their words and actions. Children model adults in their lives, especially those whom they look up to. Also, the behaviors they reinforce, positively or negatively, will have an effect on the child. Another major influence on a child are their friends. Finally, a child's life experiences: participating in sports, church activities, ect. also have an effect on them.

Anonymous said...

Children become good as a result of experiences and influences. Initially, it is the parents who influence. Teaching their children what is expected and correcting bad behaviors help children become "good". Children then have the influence of teachers, coaches, church, and peers that effect their behavior. Since expectations change for different occassions, children constantly need to be reminded and have their choices validated. Modeling appropriate behavior is another way to help children become "ggod".

Anonymous said...

For children to become good, I feel it takes a comibination of the school, family, and community. Children need to have positive role models involved in their lives as well as to learn values and morals. They need to be recognized, validated, and encouraged in order to become "good" individuals.

Paul Lumsargis said...

Becoming "good" is an evolving process of an individual that starts in early childhood and continues through adolesence. It requires direct and indirect teaching (ex. modeling) by parents, teachers, and others. For this to occur, the "teachers" have to possess a sense of "goodness" themselves and live according to their stated ideals. There has to be a consistency in words and actions by all "teachers." Of course, there should always be a discussion of what is "good" or "just" or "proper" to avoid relativism (unless revlativism is what the teacher is aiming to teach in a certain circumstance).

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