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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 15. 1972

Loss of Authority

Loss of Authority

Other speakers at the Seminar included, Fr. Charles Harrison. Prof. L. Geering, Rev. Margaret Reid, and Fr. James Kebble, all who have some background in the sphere of "institutionalised" moral education. In their participation in a panel discussion they expressed concern for the emotional factors in this development, and for the necessity for a definition of goals which they felt were lacking even at this stage of the Seminar. Fr. Charles Harrison raised the question of authority, and in light of this stated that in relation to Kolhberg's scale, "one could not give what one had not actually achieved himself". This concern with authority seemed to sum up fairly adequately the feelings of those Head teachers attending the Seminar, as they themselves could see the value of such a framework, presented by Kolhberg, yet from personal discussion with these people, one could discern an element of fear, related to the loss of authority that could be the possible outcome of applying such a scheme, within the existing system of education.

Fr. J. Kebble questioned the ability of people conditioned by institutions or social groupings, to "make the break" to higher levels of moral judgement. This question, along with the question of authority, brings into focus the responsibility of the educators, and what action they could take as a result of the material presented at this seminal. However the difficulties arising at this point were adequately expressed by Prof. L. Geering, when he stated that "theory is always better than practice," and that if educators use this framework they must do so on the assumption that they have, in fact reached the ultimate stage of moral development themselves. Is this in fact the case?

Unfortunately, I think not, for in discussing the issues raised during the Seminar, with the various people concerned, the prevailing opinion was of respect for, and even in some cases understanding of the principles presented, but little enthusiasm for application. Self-examination appeared to be the only way in which anyone was prepared to take any positive action, and in the majority of cases, this was to take the form of asking what action could in fact be taken, rather than why they should be morally obliged to lake these steps. The teachers themselves saw not only the academic problems arising from such a framework, but the practical problems of the types of schools in which they were teaching, the background of the children with which they were dealing, and the problem of conditioning staff to re-think along the lines of such a theory as presented by Kolhberg.

Thus, the success of the Seminar can only be judged in relation to the fact that these educators have been presented with new material which they are prepared to consider. rather than a burst forward into a new era of education this could only result from a complete restructuring of the present institutionalized system of education hence the only hope is for a revolution in the system, rather than the slow evolution of the past.

Cartoon of revolutionaries