Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray

Second Advisor

Lisa Lahey

Third Advisor

Joan M. Bergstrom


Beginning in preschool, moral education should provide children with a foundation for making good and reasonable decisions as well as the motivation to act with integrity. In a complex and changing world, figuring out what is good or what is the 'right' thing to do is often difficult, and decisions often require highly developed critical and creative thinking skills and deep motivation. A moral person arrives at decisions concerning what to do, how to live, and what to believe through reflective and reasonable thinking. Critical and creative thinking skills and dispositions enable a moral person to arrive at a clear conception of the world and his or her place in it. Realizing that something must be done and figuring out what to do is only half the battle; it is often just as difficult to do what we know is right. Thus, integrity is essential to the moral character. The demands that the world will someday place on children will challenge the ideals and sense of responsibility that are central to their integrity. Relationships in early childhood form the basis of personal standards. This basis is then augmented and modified throughout life. A young child's preschool provides a unique setting where the child interacts with many different people. Early childhood educators have a great deal of influence over the environment in which these interactions take place. Consequently, teachers can influence the foundation the child construes from his or her experience. Any teacher who purports to teach the whole child has an obligation to consider and enhance the moral education which is already going on in her classroom. In order to' set appropriate goals for moral education, the teacher needs to consider the fundamental questions 'What is morality?', 'How does the development of critical and creative thinking skills and dispositions affect moral development? and what motivates morality?' This thesis attempts to answer these questions with a synthesis of diverse views and findings from leading experts and researchers concerned with the moral life of children and concludes with a few recommendations for preschool teachers who would like to translate the findings into practice.

Included in

Education Commons