In 2007 there were 6.2 million students between the ages of 16 and 24 that identified themselves as “high school drop-outs.” The rate at which American students are leaving high school with only two years remaining until graduation is alarming and is an issue that must be addressed immediately. Many educators and policy makers feel as though adolescents can be motivated to remain in school if teachers tap into their students’ motivation, offer better technology to aid in student learning, and present the case as to why a high school degree is relevant to students.
Although the aforementioned methods are no doubt ways to address the drop-out rate crisis, the fundamental issue is being ignored. Students who possess character will not quit and leave school early but rather will implement a work ethic and an attitude of determination to succeed no matter what circumstances may come their way. Issues such as school violence and teen pregnancy will not push a character-ridden student out of school for this type of student will rise to the occasion and go forward because his character will not let him quit.
In order to combat the drop-out rate of American students, it is imperative that educators and teachers implement moral training in the classroom. It is not sufficient enough to present academic information alone and hope that lectures, assignments, and assessments will propel students to academic and personal success in life. Moral training must be a priority alongside academic instruction if the drop-out rate is to decline in American schools.
With the focus on student performance on state standardized tests, teachers find it difficult to add anything to their curriculum. However, moral training should be natural for any teacher to implement because adolescents daily face ethical and moral issues. How will students know the manner in which to address these issues if they have not been taught or if the teachers and educators have not properly modeled the moral behavior for the students? Students who are most likely to drop out of school often come from environments where little or no moral behavior is demonstrated, thus the only opportunity for them to see moral behavior is from the adults in their school community.
Teachers can implement moral behavior by engaging class discussions surrounding ethical issues such as is it acceptable for a kid to steal food if he has no means for which to buy or acquire food for survival? Moral training is not limited to certain classes like history or philosophy but rather all content areas exhibit moral and ethical issues that should be addressed. Teachers have the ability to engage students in an open, safe environment regarding how decisions are made and the effects decisions have on students and those around them. Students need guidance as how to properly respond to moral dilemmas and the classroom is a fitting place in which to instill moral training.
Moral training leads to character development and students who possess character will not give up when life presents difficult situations. If American wants to see the student drop-out rate decline, moral training should become a priority for all teachers and educators.