Teaching Values in a Materially-Rich but Morally-Poor Society

By Mary Reynolds and Amanda Tyree.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Socrates was right when he said the unexamined life is not worth living, so teachers are called to help students examine lives - those of literary characters and their own lives -- through compelling stories and articles. Young people can learn to examine their own existence through probing the lives of others. One approach to helping students engage in discussions about moral behavior and how humans treat each other is through juxtaposing the work of a well-known nonfiction writer/orator with works of modern or classical literature. One concrete example from an eighth grade language arts classroom is the pairing of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech with “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” a classic southern short story. Eighth graders who recently read, dissected, and discussed these two great works were engaged and amazed at how the story offered proof of Dr. King’s words about “poverty of the spirit” amid “scientific and technological abundance.” This revelation placed his words in a broader context than just the Civil Rights Era - a context that answers the call of Socrates to develop values in young people.

Keywords: Values Education, Socrates, Poverty of the Spirit, Literature

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 9, pp.117-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 533.171KB).

Mary Reynolds

Teacher, English Department Chair, English Department, Birmingham, Alabama, USA

Mary S. Reynolds is an experienced National Board Certified Teacher. She has spent 30+ years in classrooms teaching students from first to eighth grade. She currently teaches English at Mt. Brook Junior High School in Birmingham, Alabama, where she serves as Lead Teacher for the English Department. She holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Alabama.

Dr. Amanda Tyree

Adjunct, School of Education, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA

Dr. Amanda Tyree has served as a classroom teacher for almost two decades. She currently teaches in the teacher education program at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.


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