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Moral Values for Students: A Necessary Part of the Curriculum

Paul grew up on a farm where moral virtues such as hard work and honesty were cherished. Each of his classes has a moral lesson.

Students don't just need knowledge and know-how to succeed—they also need emotional intelligence and compassion.

Students don't just need knowledge and know-how to succeed—they also need emotional intelligence and compassion.

Why Are Ethics and Morality Important for Children?

When most people think about a school curriculum, they think about math, science, social studies, and language courses. Seldom do I hear or read about moral values being part of educational curricula in the modern world.

This creates a unique problem. Neglecting to teach moral values alongside academic concepts in schools is hurting our students and causing problems in society. If an individual doesn't learn moral values as they develop, how will they be able to discern the difference between right and wrong? Moreover, if they develop poor ethics and no moral values, they could harm society.

The goal of incorporating moral values into education is to ensure that, upon graduation, students not only have the knowledge and skills needed to work and succeed, but also the compassion and emotional wherewithal to be a part of a safe, peaceful, and cooperative society.

Why Teach Moral Values in Schools?

As parents and educators, we should all advocate the teaching of moral values in our schools for the following five reasons.

1. To Prepare Our Children for Their Future Roles in Society

The acquisition of knowledge in school is only one goal of education. Another primary goal of education should be enabling students to gain moral values. Our children will need both knowledge and morality to prepare themselves to be good friends, parents, colleagues, coworkers, and citizens in society.

2. Because Many Parents Aren't Teaching Moral Values

If all parents were teaching their children moral values at home, it would not be necessary for the schools to do this work. The sad fact is that a lot of kids are not learning the difference between right and wrong from their parents. Some parents can only spend a few hours with their children every week due to their busy workdays. In many families, there is only one parent present and no other role models for kids to follow. Some children don't have parents at all.

3. To Provide an Alternative to the Violence and Dishonesty Students See Around Them

Every day, students are exposed to violence, dishonesty, and other social problems in the media and the real world. How many times have we heard about school shootings? How often are students caught cheating on exams? How often do we read about bullying in schools and fights between gangs? If moral values were taught in schools, perhaps we would have fewer of these problems.

4. To Counter the Bad Influences in Society

Unfortunately, many of the role models young people look up to set bad examples. These bad examples can range from sexual misconduct to the degradation of women to the advocacy of violence to the condoning of using dishonesty to succeed.

5. Because These Values Will Stick With Them for Life

It's amazing the amount of mathematics and science knowledge I have forgotten since my school days. I haven't, however, forgotten the moral lessons I learned in school. One of these moral lessons was learned while I was a varsity football player. Our team had just lost a tough game because the referee had ruled that we were stopped inches away from scoring a touchdown. When our school principal heard my teammates and me complaining about how the officiating had caused us to lose the game, Mr. Hanrath got on the bus afterward and said that, in life, the referee never beats you.

7 Important Moral Values Students Should Learn in School

It would serve society very well if the following seven moral values were taught to students in schools.

1. Unconditional Love and Kindness

In most cases, if you love someone, they will love you back. This, however, is not the real meaning of love. Love should be unconditional. With more love in the world, kindness will follow and replace cruelty. Students must learn that spreading love—not hate—will bring them happiness and success in their adulthood.

2. Honesty

Students must be taught that dishonesty and cheating are wrong and will get them nowhere in the future. As a student, one is only hurting oneself by cheating. Dishonesty, even if effective in the short term (e.g., cheating on a test), will eventually catch up to a person and end with negative consequences in the long term (e.g., being unable to pass an entrance exam for a college class due to having cheated on tests in related subject matter).

3. Hard Work

When I was young, I learned that success was 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Nowadays, many students want to cheat and cut corners in their studies because they are lazy and don't place any value on hard work. This thinking must change. Those who are truly successful know that the work they put into something largely determines what they get out of it. If students learn to see hard work as an opportunity rather than an obstacle, they will be far happier working toward their goals as adults.

4. Respect for Others

Unfortunately, in our highly competitive, dog-eat-dog society, many people tread on others to get ahead in life. Respect for others should include respecting different religions, races, sexes, ideas, and lifestyles. When we lift those around us instead of putting them down, we all have a better experience. Students need to learn that their successes will not be built on others' failures.

5. Cooperation

To achieve a common goal, all people must work together. If this is not done, a few people may profit, but everyone else will suffer. I still believe in the motto, "united we stand, and divided we fall." Healthy competition can help people to innovate, but to be truly successful as a society, we must cooperate first and foremost.

6. Compassion

Compassion is defined as being sensitive to the needs of other people. If there were more compassion in the world, there would be far less hunger, conflict, homelessness, and unhappiness. If students were better educated in empathy, each new generation would have a greater chance of remedying the ills of society.

7. Forgiveness

As a Christian, I have learned that Jesus Christ taught us to forgive our enemies and the people who hurt us. In my experience, this idea rings true regardless of one's faith or lack thereof. In most cases, anger is caused by an unwillingness to forgive. There would be less violence and fighting in schools if students could learn this moral virtue.

The Author With His Sixth-Grade Students on a School Trip in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2010

The Author With His Sixth-Grade Students on a School Trip in Bangkok, Thailand, in 2010

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: What is the use of moral values?

Answer: Having good moral values is the foundation for being a good child, parent, spouse, and citizen.

Question: How do I get success in our life by some more values and etiquettes?

Answer: If you practice moral values such as love and honesty, you will be respected wherever and whatever you do in your life.

Question: How should moral values be taught, and why?

Answer: Moral values should first be taught in the home so that children are trained to be compassionate, honest, and hard-working. They should continue to be taught in schools to prepare students to be good parents and citizens in society.

Question: Why should students be punctual in all our actions?

Answer: I would say being punctual in our actions is important for two main reasons. The first is because time is money. The second is because we don't want to waste other people's time.

Question: Why is compassion important?

Answer: Compassion is important so that you can feel for other people and also try to see things through their eyes.

Question: What is empathy?

Answer: Empathy is being able to see things through the viewpoints and eyes of others. It is an understanding of how other people think and relate to the world.

Question: Why is honesty is important?

Answer: In the Ten Commandments, it states that one should not steal or bear false witness against a neighbor. People do not respect a dishonest person. Being dishonest will also get you into jail at times.

Question: Should sex education be taught at home and by the church?

Answer: Sex education should begin at home at an early age. As a child gets older, sex education should be taught not only by the church but also by schools. The education should focus on sex being primarily for reproduction and not only for pleasure.

© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn