Exploring the observed moral dilemmas of values education

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English language

English is the third language for most Kenyans and is the second official language of communication (Kiswahili is the national and first official language). During my interview sessions, curriculum developers claimed that English was one of the easier subjects for promoting value awareness. A look at the Teachers’ guide for English Book Two used at secondary level cites the major principle of the new syllabus as one that “…places learners at the centre of the learning and offer realistic writing tasks to which learners can relate…” (T/G 2004:x).
The book then begins on a high note with a set of general rules that are value laden; these rules set the tone that should guide the learning process (see below). Interesting to note is the fact that the text seems to adopt the format of the proposed Constitution, where what is valued by Kenyans is placed right at the beginning of the text. In the English text, the values that we expect in the text are enumerated under the banner of “rules of conduct” at the beginning of the class.

Rules of Conduct

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can.
John Wesley (pg 1)
An appraisal of the content of the book shows how the authors have dealt with varied socioeconomic issues relevant to the Kenyan context. These issues range from health, history, culture, behaviour patterns and relationships. Under health, for example, the book covers topics like drug abuse, smoking and alcoholism. In terms of culture, the topics serve to put into perspective and dispel issues related to witchcraft and some traditional taboos and practices that may be inappropriate in present day life. Under behaviour patterns, the authors in comical ways have used interesting daily etiquette to challenge what is experienced in an ordinary Kenyan community – by this, students should be able to relate and understand the message being conveyed.
The narratives in the book intended for analysis by students ensures that they address pertinent issues of family relationships, drug abuse, sexuality and that they extensively explore conflict management techniques within the school, home and community; for example, issues surrounding inheritance and drawing of a Will. The philosophy underpinning this approach is that when people are analysing issues familiar to them, then they are best able to understand and internalise them. Reading the book exposes the reader to topical social issues affecting the Kenyan community. The narratives provide real life lessons relevant to the Kenyan situation today and thus serve more than one purpose; they introduce history, culture, moral values, and finally, the intended knowledge of the English lesson.
An analysis of the style of writing is such that it accords the learner time to reflect and be creative. For example, at the beginning of each topic, a story/narrative is provided (the narrative is centred on a topical issue as indicated above). From the narrative, the learner is expected to read, understand and at the first level respond to questions directly related to the narrative. At the second level, the learner’s creativity is explored, as they are required to widen their scope of thought, for example by being requested to find other countries with a similar situation. The third and final level centres on the acquisition of language.
The first and third levels of the session are straightforward, and have been the norm before the mainstreaming process. The second level, however, requires that the individual teacher’s reflection/interpretation comes alive. This level is left open for the teacher’s creativity and as the authors of the teachers guide have stated, they hope that the teacher will “…take the language lesson beyond the classroom…” (T/G, 2004: xiv).
A summary of the values noted and exalted in this textbook include bravery, honesty, hospitality, marriage and kindness. The text scorns at issues related to wizardry, alcoholism, drug abuse, laziness and theft. This text is an improvement on the previous text which had abstract stories with a narrow focus on language acquisition only. The teacher’s guide accompanying the above text basically follows the same format as the one in the student’s text, but offers tips for the teacher in areas of methodology. The teachers’ guide provides the objective of the lesson and the intended outcome. Under the objective, both the language and value/worthiness of the lesson appear, as shown in the following example.

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Social studies

The primary teacher’s guide on social studies is explicit from the beginning on its intention; “…to assist the teacher of social studies in interpreting the topics in the syllabus…”. The guide enumerates the aim of social studies as, “…to help the pupil to develop mentally, physically and socially; not just within their own selves, but within the community…”. It clearly states values it would like the students to be introduced to, namely tolerance and respect for other people’s opinions; respect for different ways of life and traditions in different parts; respect for the role of reason in the solution of problems; respect for the dignity and worth of every person; belief that all people should possess equal rights and freedoms; and acknowledging that all people in society have roles and responsibilities, which they must play (T/G, 2004:6).
The authors of the guide are aware of the subjective nature of topics and thus leave no chance for misinterpretation, but at the same time state that “…pupils should not be told what is good or bad, but need to be told of the consequences of certain behaviours…” (T/G, 2004:6). At a glance, this may seem like a contradiction or that the authors are promoting the values clarifications approach propagated by Veugelers (2000), Lipman and Sharp (1971), but a look at the whole text shows that the authors are advocating for different methods to be used by the teacher; the key point is that the right message has to be transmitted.
The social studies’ guide is explicit on how it would like the teachers to teach the subject. For instance, on the method, the guide states that, “…while discussing the problems facing trade in the region, pupils will learn better not by memorising the facts, but by going to the market centres and finding out from traders the problems facing them…” (T/G, 2004:9). Such suggestions are very clear; the onus is on the teacher to take the initiative.
The authors of the guide acknowledge the sensitivity and importance of the desired outcome of social studies; they therefore go as far as proposing the characteristics of the social studies teacher. Besides being resourceful and knowledgeable in the subject area, the guide says that, “…the teacher should be courteous and friendly to the pupils, accepting the pupils’ opinions on issues that demand their input…” (T/G, 2004:9). This detail is provided as the authors are wary of the “hidden curriculum”. They include a cautionary statement that, as schools implement values and character education, the implicit curriculum should not be ignored or underestimated. The claim that the manner in which teachers and administrators relate, how teachers relate to parents, and how they communicate with students all provide invaluable opportunities for modelling behaviour that the system seeks to develop in students.

1 An introduction to the study
1.1 Context of the study
1.2 The research puzzle
1.3 The intellectual basis for the study
1.4 Conceptual framework of the study
1.5 Methodological plan of study
1.6 Limitations of the study
1.7 The significance of the study
1.8 Summary
2 Introduction
2.1 Theories on moral development
2.2 Limited literature on policy and practice in values education
2.3 A vacuum in research on values and classroom practice
2.4 Too much theory and advocacy; too little original research
2.5 Teacher understanding and practice in values education
2.6 The controversy surrounding teacher roles in values education
2.7 Proposals for implementing values education
2.8 Summary
3 Introduction
3.1 Sampling
3.2 Data collection
3.3 Data management
3.4 Validation of procedures
3.5 Ethical considerations
3.6 Summary
4 Introduction
4.1 English language
4.2 Social studies
4.3 Christian religious education (CRE
4.4 Geography
4.5 History and government
4.6 Summary
5 Introduction
5.1 Government schools
5.2 Private schools
5.3 Religious schools
5.4 Summary
6 Introduction
6.1 Government primary school
6.2 Private school
6.3 Religious school
6.4 Exploring the observed moral dilemmas of values education
6.5 Cross case synthesis
6.6 Summary
7 Introduction
7.1 Values: the trotting concept
7.2 The variance between policy and practice
7.3 Teacher beliefs and practices in values education
7.4 New knowledge
7.5 Areas for future research
7.6 Conclusion


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