Washington Homeschool Organization Conference Notes: Dale McGowan – Engaging Ethics
Special note: even though Dale writes about parenting from a non-religious point of view, his talks were not from any pro or anti-religion point of view. The two books of his I’ve linked at the end of the post were not referenced in his talks, but are included as a small sample of his work.
Not knowing what is wrong is rare – you already know what is right. Example: “you mean to say murder is WRONG?!” No one says that.
Morality – prosocial, helps people, improves lives
Moral stages (1950s-1970s)
- Piaget’s developmental stages
- Kohlberg’s moral development
Moral development stars earlier than previously thought – 12-24 mos = shame, guilt, pride etc can be felt. Theory of mind – can be used to comfort or mess with someone else. Parents are the early regulator.
Moral development acts on existing temperament – 40-70% of temperament is genetic. Temperaments – open, slow to warm, negatively reactive.
Moral development positively correlates to healthy attachment to primary caregiver.
Moral development: experience > formal teaching.
Religion is an unrelated variable — Dr. Larry Nucci — studies children’s moral development. Moral indoctrination interferes with moral development, children can’t think morally.
Moral development has a mostly positive default. Children will hit moral landmarks regardless of what parents do.
The Ethical Eight
- Responsive and prosocial home life, strong attachment
- Encourage active moral reasoning
- Don’t hit or humiliate kids
- Encourage kids to question authority, including yours
- Make them comfortable with differences
- Use knowledge to drive out fear
- Teach and expect responsibility and maturity
- R E L A X
Some of Dale’s books:
- Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief
- Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Children Without Religion