Why Johnny Can't Tell Right From Wrong: and what we can do about it
by William Kilpatrick
William Kilpatrick discusses how our schools are failing our children, especially in terms of teaching values and morals. He says that schools have shifted from using literature and history to teach values and character education to the ideas of "decision-making". Children are now taught that any value system is fine as long as it feels good. Kilpatrick says that the only way we can return to moral development within children is to return to character education and examples of good values and habits.
Wow, there is a lot to process here within this book, and a lot of things that I am pondering...
Kilpatrick encourages parents to read to their children and includes a long list of books that he recommends to assist in this character education.
Another title by Kilpatrick that I highly recommended is:
Books that Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values through Stories
Kilpatrick recommends many books for all ages and reading levels that help to build character. Each book recommended includes a character(s) who is delving into their own moral character and developing a sense of right and wrong.
Kilpatrick also offers some wonderful guides into how to use books and stories to develop moral values within your child.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers, or anyone else who has an active concern for the moral upbringing of children.
There is a wonderful article online written by William Kilpatrick in which he shares some of his guidelines for choosing good stories.
Some of his guidelines are:
- Use your own recollection of stories that had a positive impact on you as a young reader.
- Choose books that keep within your own values.
- Distinguish between issues and virtues. - many contemporary books for children discuss issues and often trendy issues. These issues are different from character developments. Kilpatrick says that it is important to develop strength of character in your child before you allow them to acquire many secondhand opinions. He says that the author should tell a story, not convey a message.
- Kilpatrick says it is important to remember that good books are people centered, not problem centered. Look for growth in the main character, but not always steady growth. There is much to learn by a character growing and falling.
- Context is crucial. Character building books may included immoral behavior. If a character gives in to temptation, a good story will show the real costs of that choice.
- Stories can't do all the work. A reader still needs to be able to sort out and draw conclusions.