Download full text
Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1072411
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Reference Count: N/A
Does Morality Harm Children? Alice Miller on Morality and Poisonous Pedagogy
Fridley, William L.
Philosophical Studies in Education, v37 p65-74 2006
Alice Miller, the former psychoanalyst, has gained world renown for her controversial and provocative writings on child rearing. Miller contends that traditional child rearing practices--in schools, ecclesiastical settings, and the family--consist of physical and emotional cruelty that she labels "poisonous pedagogy." According to Miller, children who are subjected to such treatment have no recourse other than to repress their anger, rage and resentment for their abusive parents. The reason they have no recourse is in great part due to the effects of moral, religious, and ideological principles that convince the child such treatment is "for your own good." This repressed anger is vented years later when the victims have a convenient target; namely, their own children (or for teachers, their students). Hence, the cycle of poisonous pedagogy is perpetuated from generation to generation. While much attention has been given to Miller's psychological theories (particularly the psychological effects of "spanking"), there has been little in the way of philosophical analysis given to her account of the role "morality" plays in this process. Miller's book, "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence," is the focus of this analysis. The author begins by clarifying and distilling Miller's views on morality. Next, she offers a critical examination of Miller's criticisms of morality, and entertains possible objections to her account. Finally, ways in which Miller's views might be of use for educators are suggested.
Descriptors: Moral Values, Child Rearing, Emotional Development, Religion, Ideology, Child Development, Psychological Patterns, Philosophy, Teaching Methods, Value Judgment, Power Structure
Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society. Web site: http://ovpes.org/?page_id=51
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A