ERIC Number: ED193138
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980
Reference Count: 0
Moral Peers to the Rescue! A Critical Appraisal of the "Plus 1" Convention In Moral Education.
Berkowitz, Marvin W.
A basic assumption regarding moral development and a critical corollary to this assumption are analyzed. The assumption, advanced by Lawrence Kohlberg, is that moral education requires a group discussion leader who can pitch moral arguments one stage above (plus 1) the majority of the class. The corollary to this assumption, based on critical studies by Jack Fraenkel and R.A. Wilkins, argues that most teachers are not developmentally advanced enough to consistently produce such plus 1 arguments. The paper states that the corollary is invalid because it is based on data referring to specific instances of reasoning rather than on a spontaneous capacity to reason. Further, by comparing some of his own data with data collected by other researchers, Wilkins followed an irregular and questionable procedure. Although these critiques lead one to question the empirical basis for the critique of the feasibility of the plus 1 moral convention, it does not mean that Kohlberg's initial assumption regarding the plus 1 convention is correct. In fact, one can question this convention from at least two standpoints: 1) Is the one stage discrepancy really the most appropriate indicator of successful classroom moral education?, and 2) Is a teacher-student discrepancy necessary for successful moral education? The conclusion, which rests on findings often overlooked in the moral education literature, is that moral development is closely related to the degree of heterogeneity of student moral reasoning in the classroom and that leaderless discussion groups are just as valuable for moral development as are teacher-led discussions. (DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Fraenkel (Jack); Kohlberg (Lawrence); Wilkins (R A)