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2014年8月29日 (金)

道徳の教科化 思いやりの心を培う授業に

The Yomiuri Shimbun
New subject of moral training should nurture children’s thoughtfulness
道徳の教科化 思いやりの心を培う授業に

It is important to ensure that the proposed idea of introducing moral training as a school subject will result in substantial improvement in the quality of our nation’s ethical education.

An subcommittee of experts at the education ministry’s Central Council for Education has basically adopted a report proposing that the current “moral training hour” at primary and middle schools be upgraded to a “special subject.” The new subject would use education ministry-authorized textbooks but not grade students numerically.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry hopes to introduce the new subject in fiscal 2018 at the earliest, after revising its official teaching guidelines and laying down criteria for screening moral education textbooks.

As circumstances stand today, classes for moral training are not part of the ministry’s regular curriculum. Some schools tend to pay little heed to the importance of offering moral training, as shown by their practice of switching such lessons to Japanese language, arithmetic and mathematics classes. The idea of making moral training a subject is intended to rectify this situation.

It is very meaningful for children to be encouraged to learn social rules and develop a sense of thoughtfulness toward others, as they are certain to play a leading role in shaping our country’s future. Some critics have said that making moral training a subject is tantamount to forcing certain values on students. Such criticism must be dismissed as pointless.

The latest report cited “the frailties of people” and “the courage to confront difficulties” as examples of topics to be taken up in the new subject, reflecting the fact that school bullying is becoming even worse nowadays. It also proposed addressing contemporary issues such as the morals to be observed when using information on the Internet.

The question is what should be done to improve the quality of moral training lessons. Teachers will not gain a favorable response from children if they only read out from a textbook.

Imaginative ideas needed

One of the proposals put forward in the report focused on school bullying and other problems involving students. The report suggested encouraging students to think about what to do by having them role-play such scenarios. It also proposed getting children to debate a single issue to the fullest. We find it reasonable for the proposal to emphasize the need to come up with imaginative ideas about how to give moral training lessons.

The introduction of the new subject is certain to test teachers in terms of their instructional skills. However, the status quo is hardly promising. In the teacher training courses offered by colleges and universities, there are only a few lectures on moral education. Therefore, many teachers remain unsure about their teaching methods.

Moral training lessons would be conducted by homeroom teachers as they are well acquainted with students. Such teachers should not be left to their own devices or become complacent about how to conduct moral education. With this in mind, the principle of each school should take responsible steps to ensure this does not occur.

One focus of attention is examining what kinds of standards should be set for screening textbooks, as well as how to assess the achievements accomplished by each student.

Full rein must be given to the originality and ingenuity of private-sector textbook publishers, to ensure that the contents of their textbooks are worth reading. At the same time, however, it is necessary to lay down screening criteria conducive to securing the ideological neutrality of the contents and attaining a proper balance in other aspects of the details.

In conducting moral training lessons, it is not appropriate to use scores to grade students’ achievements.
Moral education differs from other subjects in which students are assessed through tests and other scores. Classes for moral training are intended to improve their mental attitude.

Given this, the latest report is correct in saying that teachers should describe in writing the attitude of each student toward the lessons and his or her accomplishments.

We hope the education ministry will set specific guidelines for that purpose, to provide teachers with some illuminating information.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 28, 2014)


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