INCORPORATING MORAL EDUCATION INTO THE JEWISH SECONDARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM
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This thesis develops source material for a program of Jewish moral education, based on an adaption of the moral development theories of Harvard psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg. The introductory section of the thesis outlines Kohlberg's research and analyzes the problems one faces in seeking to adapt his educational theories to religious moral education in general, and specifically to Jewish moral education. A uniquely Judaic philosophy of moral education is then formulated based on the Pentateuchal commentary of Nahmanides and an expansion upon Nahmanides' ideas found in Karo's "Maggid Mishneh." Both these sources indicate that Judaism's heteronomous ethical principles often require autonomous application to particular situations where objective principles provide direction, but no clear determination of what constitutes appropriate ethical conduct. Hence, though we are forced to reject Kohlberg's personal philosophy of moral education which calls for fully autonomous moral decision-making based totally upon individual conscience, his methodologies, which seek to foster high-level ethical reasoning, are appropriate to Judaic moral education which similarly requires high-level reasoning and comprehension in order to effectively apply its ethical principles.;The body of the thesis is composed of five chapters as follows: (a) The Major Ethical Principles of Judaism; (b) Filial Obligation; (c) Employer-Employee Relations; (d) Charity Obligations; (e) Yosher (Extra-Legal Obligation). Each of the chapters consists of two parts: a brief overview that introduces each of the areas of ethical concern from the perspective of the halakhah and its inherent philosophy; a presentation of the source material culled from Midrash, Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds, Codes, Biblical exegetes, etc., accompanied by a guide for the proper study of the source material in a manner that allows the student to integrate both the factual data and its spirit, and learn to apply both to the process of moral decision-making. This study guide includes questions for the student to think about, plus a number of Kohlberg-type moral dilemmas for use in classroom discussion, designed to foster moral development towards the higher levels of Kohlberg's moral development scale, and to maximize the opportunity to apply ethical concepts to real-life moral situations.
- Theses and Dissertations