Right and Wrong

Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong

By William Kilpatrick

Read September, 2010

I ordered this book upon having a discussion with a young voter on a topic much in the news. He lacked a moral vocabulary. He had no religious or philosophical grounds for his position. He was undertaking actions with very little thought or background.

According to the book, moral ambivalence and naïveté is common. Kilpatrick recommends a return to virtue, and habituation in virtue, based on the myths and stories that exemplify the great human strivings.

His references are to Rousseau, Nietzsche, Kant, Aristotle, Aquinas, Plato. He finds lacking Parent Effectiveness Training, Values Clarification, Me-ology.

He calls for notifying kids what is right and wrong. How daring. He thinks teachers can help. He thinks parents should read to their children from books of substance.

He gives lists of books that fit this description. I’m going to buy a few of them for the homes of our grandchildren. Aesop’s, 365 Bible Stories, Greek Myths, Children’s Homer, etc. (Isn’t amazon.com new and used great? I found most of these titles used for under $4.00.) Later, I’ll send books for middle readers.

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One Response

  1. Aesops is a great classical start. What I found in my kids education was a formal, institutionalized contempt for western civilization, an unwillingness to teach it, and a preference for the “noble primitive” and emphasis on not judging.

    First, the philosophers you mention, along with the mixture of pagan and christian beliefs that make up western civilization, give us science and medicine and an emphasis on the value of the individual, along with government ideas such as (roman)republic and (greek)democracy and (anglo saxon)common law.

    Second, critical thinking requires judgment.

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