Relasjon og norm i etikkdidaktikken : moralsk/etisk verktøybruk i spennet mellom elevtekster og fagdidaktiske framstillinger
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AbstractThis thesis presents the results of a research project focusing on the role of verbal tools in moral education. In the study comparisons have been made between students’ use of such verbal tools and the moral concepts used by text books from secondary school and teacher education. 78 students from four secondary school classes have produced textual data for the project. Their texts are responses to moral challenges presented in simulated environments online. The research focus of the project is partly inspired by a sociocultural perspective focusing on verbal concepts and phrasings as cultural tools. Such tools serve as mediational means organizing the perceptions and responses of individuals acting within social contexts. The research focus of the project is also indebted to the feminist philosopher Seyla Benhabib who has tried to unify the opposed positions of an ongoing debate concerning the role of relations in moral development. Benhabib has argued that without a situated and relational basis moral reasoning loses touch with reality, but she has also underlined that a moral decision making based in relations alone runs the risk of getting partial.
Accordingly the qualitative analysis and the subsequent discussions in this thesis have focused on occurrences and functions of both relational and normative aspects of verbal tools in student texts. The occurrences and functions of such tools have then been compared with textbook approaches to moral education, to discuss whether textbooks meet the challenges raised by student texts. The results of the project are summarized in four conclusions:
- The project has described interactions between relational and principled moral tools in student texts. The occurrences vary with respondents and contexts both in number and functions. The interactions between such tools seem to correspond in several ways to the theoretical synthesis between moral relations and moral principles posed by Seyla Benhabib. However only a small number of textbooks pay similar attention to the role of relations in the moral domain.
- The use of relational tools in student texts shows considerable variations. The female students of the study use relational tools that signal intimacy to a considerable higher degree than the male participants. The analysis and discussions point towards a possible disproportion between relational moral challenges and the degree of tool mastery among student groups. Concerns about such possible disproportions have not been identified in textbooks.
- The analysis and discussions point to tensions between students’ use of norms and principles as tools and the norm basis of a public moral discourse. Norm tensions are briefly discussed in textbooks, and possible conflicts between religious minorities and the (partly) Christian norm basis of the Norwegian school system are discussed in these books, as well as possible conflicts between Christian and secular aspects within this norm basis. While the main part of student texts represents no challenge to the moral norms of the school system, a minority challenges these norms from apparently secular, individualistic positions. Textbooks pay no particular attention to such challenges, leaving the question of norm conflicts in moral education partly unanswered.
- The thesis demonstrates the use of sociocultural perspectives and concepts in educational research, particularly the "tool" concept and the "Zone of Proximal Development". The use of such perspectives and concepts within moral research and moral education has this far been modest. Textbooks of moral education show no traces of such perspectives although some of the presentations may be compatible with a sociocultural approach. The thesis briefly points out the possible relevance of sociocultural concepts for moral education. The concept "mediated action" is also briefly discussed as a potential basic perspective, possibly reframing the traditional character and norm aspects within a more inclusive and interactive approach to moral education.