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Ellen Feig

Professor, Bergen Community College

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Can one teach young people to be moral? Is morality something that must be taught in the home? Is it innate?

Currently I am working on a professional development platform focused on teaching college students ethics and morality. Young people seem to be incredibly disengaged from others, have little sense of what it means to be moral, gracious or ethical and don't care. How can we teach morality or is it something that is innate?

Topics: ethics morality
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  • Jan 23 2013: Honestly, I must say, having religion has taught me a lot about morality.
    (Not saying that following all those commands in Bible makes me "moral".
    And sometimes I fail to follow some of them.)

    Living in a country where Confucian ideas prevail also has influenced me to behave morally.
    (Whether I like it or not, I should respect adults and use the honorific as long as I'm here in Korea.)

    Having quite strict parents also has had good effects on me: They’ve encouraged me to help others.


    Those three "influences" are almost main ethical barriers that keep me doing the right thing.
    Those are surely much more powerful than “oxytocin”.

    I don't think people are naturally born to be moral.
    "Ethical stimuli", like surrounding by morally appropriate or encouraging environment can contribute to moral behaviors.


    Not to mention, when challenged, my logical ground for thinking, "this" or "that" would be moral would fundamentally depend on my intuition: My mom didn't teach me like this.
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      Jan 23 2013: Elizabeth - my Korean students are by far the most respectful students as they would never think of not doing their work or reading or of talking in class. This cultural difference is intriguing to me on many levels
      • Jan 24 2013: Yeah, hopefully, in a good way, they are polite and respectful..

        Cultural difference could be one of powerful factors that shape one's moral code.
        Or...could be vice versa.
        By no means, it should oppress one's freedom.

        Koreans, just like most of other Asians, happen to care more about others and further, our society than each individual (Well, nowadays people are getting more ego-centric, though)

        Although being respectful to the elderly is a good thing, if one can't find a way to live in harmony with this moral code, he would no doubt regard his culture as unnecessary.

        For me, comparing my country to other countries, like America, helped me a lot to think more about Ethics and Philosophy. By thinking critically, I got to understand the reason why I should do this or shouldn't do this.
        I don't necessarily follow all those moral duties in my country, and some are distorted and not being respected in some way.

        Nonetheless, I believe this cultural power helps establish good ethical models for young generation in my country in a way that it embraces our society.

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