We will offer our answer by way of a sketch of a theory of moral education.
Given this theory—and the civic and educational frameworks we outlined in Chapters 1 and 2—we will draw out the implications for the role of religion in moral education.
It is unjustifiable for a teacher to “impose” his or her values on students; this would be an act of oppression that denies the individuality and autonomy of students.
Values are ultimately personal; indeed, the implicit message is that there are no right or wrong values.
Indeed, schools teach morality in a number of ways, both implicit and explicit.
Schools have a moral ethos embodied in rules, rewards and punishments, dress codes, honor codes, student government, relationships, styles of teaching, extracurricular emphases, art, and in the kinds of respect accorded students and teachers.
Needless to say, this is a deeply controversial approach—and is now widely rejected.
The character education movement of the last decade has been a response, in part, to the perceived relativism of values clarification.
Schools convey to children what is expected of them, what is normal, what is right and wrong.
It is often claimed that values are caught rather than taught; through their ethos, schools socialize children into patterns of moral behavior.