Cognitive Development, Self Knowledge and Moral Education

Journal of Moral Education 26 (4):455-472 (1997)
Abstract
Abstract This paper rejects the notion of moral education in adulthood as merely remedial, i.e. as providing a second chance to learn that which should have been learned in school, or as merely compensatory, i.e. as making up for the waning of our cognitive abilities which (stereotypically) occurs with age. Rather, it advocates a conception of lifelong moral education which presupposes that there are social and cognitive features of maturity which have the potential to generate some worthwhile learning which can therefore only be acquired in adulthood. First the theoretical issues associated with this presupposition will be outlined and the notions of dialectical/relativistic and eclectic/synthesising forms of thinking, as adult stages of thinking, will be explored in the context of moral development and education. Secondly, reference will be made to some relatively recent research undertaken (at the Department of Continuing Education, University of Warwick) into the impact of liberal adult education certificated courses on the mature student's sense of identity. In?depth interviews revealed that the students themselves perceive their learning in terms of adult cognitive development. Moreover, the courses were found to have had a significant impact on their self?understanding. In so far as the development is an aspect of moral education, these research findings have some significance for lifelong moral education
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