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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 28 2013: Who cares whether or not it is inate if you can teach it. Here's how. 1) Tell your pupil how important it is that there is altruism in the world, talking about ghandi or however you want to inspire this do-good feeling. 2) Drop a bit of money (enough to be meaningful) in a place where you know where your pupil will find it. 3) If the pupil finds it and gives it to you, give them some and emphasize how good of a person they are for giving the money back. Even give them some of it and also donate some of the money on their behalf to some cause to which they might be sympathetic. Let them see how it helps them and others. If they keep the money, catch them and make them feel extremely guilty (don't wuss out) verbally. Regardless, you are trading incentives/reinforcers for a learning opportunity. I would say that often people are verbally reminded of morals, but don't get many chances to practice. I say give them a few practice opportunities and show them how good it feels to help people and do good. No disrespect to those that want to talk about the philosophy of this, but regardless, if you can teach it, teach it. If you want more, talk to a behavior analyst (yes, they exist, are good, and are expensive).

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