Moral Democratic Education

A Native American grandparent talking to their young grandchild tells the child they have two wolves inside of them struggling with each other. The first is the wolf of peace, love, hope, humility, joy, empathy, kindness and truth. The other wolf is fear, greed, anger, jealousy, lies, inferiority, ego and hatred. “Which wolf will win, grandparent?” asks the young child. “Whichever one I feed,” is the reply.

– Native American proverb, Cherokee

I’m collaborating on new trainings toward positive social change and embodied practice of values and ideals. I’ve recently finished translating and contributing to Prof. Georg Lind’s (2016) book ‘How to Teach Morality: Promoting Deliberation and Discussion, Reducing Violence and Deceit’ (purchase from Logos, Berlin; Amazon; Google Books). I also serve as a Teacher Trainee for the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion (KMDD)®. Tailored workshops to promote improved social outcomes are on offer for groups of 8 or more individuals.

Fostering Moral-Democratic Competence through Lind’s Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion (KMDD)®

A news report on the method (2007): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCwLlmbIS6M

Dr. Richard Felder, Prof. Emeritus of Chemical Engineering’s review of the book outlining the method and moral democratic education:

“How to Teach Morality is an extraordinary book. It deals with several important and perplexing questions that philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and educators have wrestled with for millennia. What is morality? Can it be taught? If so, how and by whom? Professor Lind has devoted decades to exploring these questions from both theoretical and applied points of view. He has concluded that morality can and should be defined as a teachable and assessable competence, and he has developed a moral education system (the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion) and tested it with populations ranging from students to prisoners in countries on several continents. Using an instrument he developed and validated to assess moral competence, he consistently observed significant and—importantly—persistent growth in moral competence in the populations he studied.

Lind’s mastery of the history and philosophy of morality and moral education is quite apparent, as he quotes voluminously from sources ranging from Socrates, Kant, and Spinoza to Piaget, Kohlberg, and Pinker. Fortunately, unlike many authors in his field who write dense prose seemingly designed to impress or intimidate non-expert readers, he writes of the complex issues bound up in morality in a beautifully clear and persuasive manner. He also makes a powerful case for the strong current need for effective moral education, drawing excellent examples from recent world history. I have no doubt that widespread adoption by educators of the methods Lind lays out in the book would make life better for a substantial portion of the world’s citizenry. I hope the right people read it.”

Learning outcomes and aims of the KMDD®:

The KMDD® is the most effective and well-documented method for moral democratic education to-date when provided by trained facilitators (see below references). Developed in international collaboration over the past decades by one of the foremost moral education researchers, Prof. Dr. Georg Lind (University of Konstanz), this theory-based approach is scientifically-proven to improve moral-democratic competences, that is, “the ability to cope with problems and resolve conflicts on the basis of universalizable moral ideals through thinking and respectful discussion instead of through violence, power, and deceit” (Lind, 2011).

Moral democratic competence is linked to improved learning atmosphere and educational success; improved decision-making ability under pressure; adherence of just laws and rules; care for others; application of core democratic values; decreased involvement in overt and covert violence; and decreased need for substances to alleviate stress (alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, etc.).

Why foster moral competence?

The KMDD®develops moral judgment ability which is a key competence for successfully handling diverse life challenges. As the complexity and number of moral challenges are increasing in our globalized modern society, moral competence must be further supported through education. Empirical studies have shown that moral competence is related to:

  • Improved decision-making ability
  • Improved learning ability
  • Improved application of knowledge
  • Improved social relations
  • Development and maintenance of freely-chosen personal values
  • Competent handling of psychological challenges
  • Moral behaviour including participation in humanitarian and prosocial activities

Conversely, the consequences of low moral judgment and discussion ability are linked to delinquent anti-social behaviour and increased alcohol or drug consumption.

After just one or two brief dilemma-discussion sessions, participants are better able to reason and preside over issues in their everyday lives through developing their own inner moral principles and abilities (such as justice, deliberation, taking multiple perspectives, individual responsibility, tolerance, and empathy).

Proven track record:

Participants across multiple cultures ages 8 and up repeatedly display long-lasting improved moral competence as measured by the Moral Judgment/Competence Test (MCT, Lind) across diverse settings (e.g., Elementary and High School; Business contexts; Medical School; Elder Care Homes; juvenile and adult Prisons; social work, law, and teacher education). As well, participants report the experience itself to be an enjoyable and fruitful learning opportunity.

Teaching principles:

  1. Moral-democratic experience: Provides participants with a genuine immersive moral-democratic learning opportunity (discussion governed by rules of discussion not by authority or power)
  2. Co-construction: Gives opportunities for the co-construction of the dilemma situation in the group
  3. Emotional base of learning: Creates optimal level of engagement for maximum learning by alternating phases of support and challenge
  4. Self-evaluation and reflection: Allows for self-evaluation and reflection alone and in group context

 

Further information:

Extensive information is available on the KMDD website: www.uni-konstanz.de/ag-moral/

Your questions and comments are always welcomed and encouraged. Please do get in touch should you be interested in learning more or arranging a tailored session for your group.

References:

Lind, G. (2008). Teaching students to speak up and to listen to others: Cultivating moral democratic competencies. In: D. E. Lund & P. R. Carr, eds., Doing democracy and social justice in education: Political literacy for all students, pp. 185-220. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.

Lind, G. (2009). Moral ist lehrbar. Handbuch zur Theorie und Praxis moralischer und demokratischer Bildung. [Morality can be taught. Handbook of theory and practice of moral and democratic education]. München: Oldenbourg, zweite erweiterte Auflage. (Spanish and Greek versions available; English version of third thoroughly revised edition in preparation.)

Lind, G. (2011). Editorial: Moral competence and the democratic way of living. Europe’s Journal of Psychology, 7, 5, pp. 569 – 596.

Nowak, E., Schrader, D. & Zizek, B., eds. (2013). Educating competencies for democracy. Frankfurt: Peter Lang Verlag.

Lind, G. (2016). How to teach morality: Promoting deliberation and discussion, reducing violence and deceit. Berlin: Logos.

For more references and information on the KMDD visit: http://www.uni-konstanz.de/ag-moral/

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