Title

Helping Adolescents to Address the Moral Dimensions of Sexuality

Date of Completion

12-31-1991

Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Abstract

This thesis presents a rationale for an adolescent sex education which better attends to moral issues and it proposes practical suggestions for classroom strategies to promote moral thinking. The central argument of this thesis is that helping adolescents to become better moral thinkers will also help them to make more responsible and informed decisions about sex. This thesis focuses on five major areas of sex education. The analysis of current practices in adolescent sex education places particular emphasis on AIDS/HIV education to research what is being done by school systems in Boston and in Massachusetts to encourage classroom examination of sexual attitudes and behavior. The examination of adolescents' impressions about the purpose of sex education identifies a strong desire for assistance with understanding the moral dimensions of sexuality. The review of prevalent thinking related to moral education and moral development discusses values clarification and Kohlberg's theory of moral development to identify compatible strategies for adolescent sex education. The presentation of instructional prototypes designed to promote moral inquiry, discussion, and decision making illustrates ways for sex education to help teenagers examine the moral dimensions of sexuality. The discussion of expanded responsibilities associated with employing moral thinking in adolescent sex education enumerates necessary classroom, institutional, and community linkages. This thesis also develops four distinctive notions about promoting moral thinking. First, it calls for instruction which addresses teenagers' concerns about sexuality-specific and general moral issues. Second, in contrast to Kohlberg's view, it argues that moral thinking involves more than just reasoning. To encourage well-rounded moral thinking, instruction should also concentrate on encouraging feeling, valuing, judging, and decision making. Third, this thesis investigates two structural modifications to Kohlberg's classroom approach. It abandons the abstract distillation of moral problems and contrived choices typical of Kohlberg's dilemma model in favor of employing open-ended moral problems which place greater emphasis on circumstances and events encountered by teenagers. Finally, this thesis examines the issues of indoctrination and neutrality. It proposes implementation of guided neutrality, a strategy coined by the author, to offer students guidance within a principled exploration of moral issues.

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