Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Lawrence Blum

Second Advisor

Delores Gallo

Third Advisor

Br. Paul Feeney


In this thesis the proper place and instruction of morals and values in public schools is considered from an historic, and social view. A pedagogical approach to teaching values in the classroom, which is based in critical thinking, is offered as a resolution to the stalemate regarding morals and values in schools that is a result of competing cultural forces. In the historical review chapter I make a case that America's public school teachers have always been charged with the moral development of their students and that this charge has been primary over much of our history. The chapter concludes that teachers today have lost that voice or that it has in some way been silenced. In the next chapter I review forces outside of the classroom that impact school policy and teacher's willingness to engage in moral issues. Considered are cultural changes, the power of the religious right, the courts, liberal responses, and the impact on educators of professionalization. The next chapter is focused on a pedagogical approach to the challenge of teaching values in the classroom called, the critical-moral classroom. This approach synthesizes a holistic vision of classrooms, strong sense critical thinking skills, the application of the 'Golden Rule" to thinking, and the prophetic voice in education. The critical-moral classroom is suggested as a way to restore a moral voice to teachers by thinking about morals and virtues, as opposed to naming what is moral. This approach frees the teacher from many of those external forces that have silenced teachers' moral voices and offers a reflective approach to the classroom. The critical-moral classroom offers teachers of all disciplines a platform from which to address their own moral development and that of their students. I close with conclusions and observations about the concept of the critical-moral classroom and reflections on the importance of individual teachers considering their role as moral leaders in their classrooms.

Included in

Education Commons