Lawrence Kohlberg Moral Development Theory By: Heidi Kreuter and Ryan Day Biography • Born on October 25, 1927 in Bronxville, New York • Attended Andover Academy in Massachusetts, a private high school for bright and usually wealthy students • Before college he was an engineer on an old freighter carrying refugees from parts of Europe to Israel • Studied psychology at the University of Chicago • First became a clinical psychologist before creating his own theory • Spent many years researching how an individual develops their own moral codes • Died in 1987 of a possible suicide Central Tenets of Theory • • • • Influenced by the work of Jean Piaget Somewhat different than other theories Looked for process, not the product Believed moral thinking progressed through 6 stages – These stages were grouped into three general levels: Pre-Conventional Conventional Post-Conventional Pre-Conventional Level • Moral reasoning starts out as being totally based on the notion of punishment and reward. • Child is responsive to cultural rules and labels of good and bad, right or wrong based on those notions. Conventional Level • Attitude is not only one of conformity to personal expectations and social order, but of loyalty to it, of actively maintaining, supporting, and justifying the order and identifying with the persons or group involved in it. Post-Conventional Level • Genuine concern for others and the need to satisfy one’s conscience. • Makes effort to define moral values and principles. Stage Name Characteristics Pre-Conventional Stage 1 Punishment-Obedience Orientation The concern is for self. Good behaviour is associated with avoiding punishment. 2 Instrumental Relativist Orientation Concrete individual interests. Is aware of others’ interests. Conventional Stage 3 4 Good Boy – Nice Girl Orientation Law and Order Orientation Lives up to others’ expectations and desires group approval. Concern for larger society. The maintenance of law and order. Post-Conventional Stage 5 Social Contract Orientation Concern is social utility or public interest. 6 Universal Ethical Principle Orientation Follows self-chosen ethical principles, even when they conflict with the laws. Scenario You are an impoverished man who needs a certain medicine for your wife who is gravely ill. A seller of the drug is charging ten times its value. Will you steal the medicine to save your wife? Why or why not? The details of the hypothetical situation can then be altered slightly to bring out the nuances of a person’s moral reasoning (e.g. does it depend on how ill the wife is, how poor the husband is, whether it is a small family owned drugstore or a nationwide chain store, etc.). The most important point here, however, is that we are not concerned with the choice made – we are concerned with why the person is making the choice. Stage 1: “No, I wouldn’t steal the drug because I would be punished. The law says stealing is wrong.” Stage 2: “No, I wouldn’t steal the drug because while I want to save my wife, being punished would be worse than losing her. I could just get married again.” Stage 3: “No, I wouldn’t steal the drug because people would see me as a selfish thief who breaks rules just for their own benefit.” Stage 4: “No, I wouldn’t steal the drug because there is a greater good to be maintained – rules exist in order to protect all members of society. If I were to act on my own selfish behalf and steal, it would set a dangerous precedent with terrible long term ramifications.” Stage 5: “No, I wouldn’t steal the drug, though it would pain me miserably. I believe the rights of my wife to the drug are valid, but they must be balanced against the rights of the drugist. Her rights to life are greater – I believe the drugist is acting immorally, and that he should be implored to sell it cheaper, but I would stop short of stealing and breaking laws that all of us have decided to accept as good members of society.” Stage 6: “I would steal the drug, administer it to my wife, and then turn myself in to the police. I would then demand that I be punished to the full extent of the law. While stealing is reprehensible, my ethical principles value life above property, and therefore, to be true to myself and to life itself, I must break the lesser law in order to follow the greater good.” Traditional Model • Rejected by Kohlberg • Based on the idea that virtues and vices are basis to moral behaviour • Moral character is comprised of a “bag of virtues” Patience Honesty VIRTUES Strength Kindness • Taught through: – Example – Direct communication of convictions – By giving students an opportunity to practice these virtues – By rewarding their expression • Flaws to traditional method: – No guiding principle for defining what virtues are worthy – Wrong assumptions on community consensus on what are considered “positive values” – Teachers tend to impose their own values/beliefs Moral Education • Better approach • Based on assumption that there are no single, correct answers to ethical dilemmas • Encourages individuals to develop to the next stage of moral reasoning through discussions • Forces students to think outside the box Practical Tactics for Teachers • Have students discuss controversial moral dilemmas • Role Playing • Exploration of Cultural Groups • Direct Instruction Gifted Students • There are signs that many gifted children have moral sensitivity • Benefit greatly from exploring and understanding Kohlberg’s theory – Organize thoughts and provide insight into human behaviour – Understand moral development of their peers – Take different perspectives – Expose themselves to levels higher than their present moral level Sara Porter • What stage is she at? • Gifted • Leadership Role Resources • • • • • • • • • • • • • • http://www.wisegeek.com/who-is-lawrence-kohlberg.htm http://www.xenodochy.org/ex/lists/moraldev.html http://changingminds.org/explanations/learning/kohlberg_stage.htm http://www.vtaide.com/blessing/Kohlberg.htm http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/kohlberg.htm http://tigger.uic.edu/~lnucci/MoralEd/overview.html#kohlberg http://www.candleinthedark.com/kohlberg.html http://ehlt.flinders.edu.au/education/DLiT/2004/18stages/lawrence_kohlberg.htm http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/index.php?s=rescuers http://www.moleskinerie.com/2006/07/index.html http://www.sengifted.org/articles_social/Lovecky_IdentityDevelopmentInGiftedChildrenMoralSens itivity.shtml https://www1.umn.edu/ohr/prod/groups/ohr/@pub/@ohr/documents/asset/ohr_68497.pdf W.C. Crain. (1985). Theories of Development. Prentice-Hall. pp. 118-136. Dana, Nancy F., & Lynch-Brown, Carol (1991). Moral development of the gifted: Making a case for children's literature. Roeper Review. 14(1), 13-16.