Moral development of Dutch high school students. Exploring a virtue-based moral development approach
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Over the last few decades, the Dutch high school program concerning moral education changed. In a society which became increasingly pluralistic, the way high schools approached the moral development of their pupils changed. The emphasis of moral education shifted to value clarification and Socratic dialogue skills. According to the Onderwijsraad this needs to change. In their advice ‘Onderwijs vormt’ they propose some educational changes. Assuming that every moral education approach is based on at least some normative assumption which could provide guidance in developing an educational approach, I explore the advice in the hope to uncover these implicit assumptions. In order to effectively discuss the different elements of the advice, I will start by showing the differences between character education and cognitive moral education. It turns out that a possible candidate for the implicit normative assumptions of the Onderwijsraad is the virtue theory of Aristotle. In order to show how this can be implemented, I will inquire two educational visions on moral education which both are founded in Aristotle’s normative theory and which can be used to achieve the changes the Onderwijsraad advises. The first approach I will inquire, which I will call the ‘Voorbeeldig Onderwijs’ approach, can be classified as strict Aristotelian. The second, the ‘Integrative ethics education’ approach represents a combination of an Aristotelian approach and the most common educational approaches present in today’s schools.