Moral and Intellectual Poison
Carle - April 30, 2007
"The chief architect of a
particularly insidious moral development program is a Harvard professor named
Lawrence Kohlberg.... Kohlberg developed techniques which are easy to teach and
which effectively serve to break down the personality so that past moral teachings and moral
development are forgotten and discarded to be replaced with the Manson-type
Skip down to No guilt or
Small group dialogue
There is little amiss in
education that LESS federal and foundation (F&F for short) money couldn't
cure. Among the courses that could benefit from a withdrawal of F&F funds
are those now treated together as elements of a sociologically-designed
combination called 'social studies.'
The emphasis in social studies curriculum planning from the 1960's has been
on developing what sociologists call a 'Conceptual Framework' and a
'Problem-Solving' curriculum. The conceptual framework for social studies is
a method of limiting knowledge rather than expanding it. Facts are used for
one purpose, and only one purpose, that being to help the students arrive at
predetermined sociological concepts.
Since the 1960's under the leadership of a National Education Association
organization called the National Council for the Social Studies, and with
the help of F&F financing, the conceptual framework and curriculum have been
used in most schools in many subjects and at all levels.
The conceptual framework used in the public schools version of moral
education is called the 'Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Moral
Education'. Without knowing what it means, parents tend to assume something
good is happening to the children. In an article I wrote for my weekly
"Truth In Education" column April 8, 1976 I expressed a contrary opinion.
The article was titled, "MORALITY FOR MURDERERS." The subtitle read, "U.S.
Govt. Finances Manson-Type Morality at Harvard." The following is quoted
from that 1976 article:
"Those who watched the recent TV presentation of HELTER SKELTER telling the
story of the Tate murders and the trial of Charles Manson and his 'family'
must have wondered how so many young people could have turned so animalistic
and vicious, and been so completely unrepentant. After the trial for
committing some of the most horrendous murders ever committed, Charles
Manson said, 'Everything was all right. There was no wrong.' And Susan
Adkins said, 'I have no remorse for doing what was right to me. I have no
guilt in me.'"
Instead of basing their morality on Christian principles or on moral laws
which have been discovered and revealed over the centuries, Manson and his
followers lived by what they thought was a personal morality. Each believed
he had his own carefully thought-out moral system. Their acts of murder did
not conflict with their own personal morality. This Manson-type morality is
exactly the same morality which is taught to your children in the schools. .
I. Preconventional Level
The techniques for morally corrupting your children were worked out at the
universities: Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon, Boston and Rockefeller Universities
being among the most notorious. The chief architect of a particularly
insidious moral development program is a Harvard professor named Lawrence
Kohlberg. Working with grants from the Cooperative Research Branch of the
United States Office of Education, The W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone
Foundation, the Danforth Foundation, and the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation,
Kohlberg developed techniques which are easy to teach and which effectively
serve to break down the personality so that past moral teachings and moral
development are forgotten and discarded to be replaced with the Manson-type
morality. . .
The April 1976 issue of SOCIAL EDUCATION is devoted almost exclusively to
promoting this 'Cognitive-Developmental Approach to Moral Education.' The
fact that the goal is to break down the moral principles is clearly stated.
However, one would have to attend a few seminars and teachers' meetings to
understand how insidious the techniques are and how easy it might be to be
taken in by all the nicey-nice words and phrases, such as, 'sanctity of
life,' 'moral development,' 'higher moral state,' 'principled moral
thought,' 'commitment,' and 'moral dilemma' which are tossed about. Those
who participate often walk away and say like Susan Adkins and Charles
Manson, "There is no wrong, I have no guilt in me."
Kohlberg's moral development theory is based on oversimplified statements of
how people arrive at moral conclusions rather than the intelligence and
decency of the conclusions themselves. A completely self-developed moral
code represents Kohlberg’s highest stage of moral development. Kohlbergian
morality and Mansonian morality are one.
Because social studies curriculum designers tend to be of the bean counting
type they generally assign numbers to human activities. Thus, Kohlberg moral
reasoning is divided into three levels, each consisting of two stages.
The most important thing to notice is what happens at Kohlberg's Stages 4, 5
and 6. The following are Kohlberg's levels and stages:
The child responds to simple labels such as good or bad, right or wrong. He
learns which things are bad or wrong by being punished. He learns about good
or right by experiencing pleasure. This level has two stages.
Stage 1: A child will judge something bad if he is punished for doing it
rather than decide that something is bad on the basis of the human value or
meaning of what is being done.
Stage 2: At this stage, right action means something which fulfills one's
own needs, or sometimes the needs of others.
II. Conventional Level
Stage 3: Correct behavior is that which pleases or helps other people and
which other people approve of.
Stage 4: Right behavior consists of conforming with the laws of the society
by doing one's duty, showing respect for authority and maintaining the
III. Post-Conventional or Principled Level
This level goes beyond justifying actions on the basis that the society has
passed a law which should be obeyed. At this level, the individual tries to
define moral levels and principles for himself even if his personal
definition differs from that of the law.
Stage 5: Right action is defined in terms of general individual rights and
of standards which the whole society has examined critically What is right
becomes a matter of personal values and opinions. The emphasis falls on
changing laws by examining rationally whether laws, or a particular law, are
Stage 6: Here the individual defines right action in terms of his individual
conscience established in accordance with self-chosen ethical principles.
These principles are abstract -- the dignity and worth of the
individual -- rather than concrete -- the Ten Commandments. From such principles
an individual can justify civil disobedience, which cannot be justified by
anyone at stage 4. He can also justify revolution by abstract principles.
Actually, he can justify anything. Using the Cognitive Developmental Theory
of Moral Reasoning, all he needs to do to justify his behavior is to claim
he is acting on self-chosen ethical principles, and that no one has a right
to criticize or condemn his principles. In other words, he has the right to
behave in whatever manner he chooses, but you have no right to say what you
think about it.
To help children believe they are forming personal values and opinions and
establishing self-chosen ethical principles, prepackaged moral discussions
complete with format, questions, and audiovisual aids can be purchased.
Anyone who can read and talk can become a moral counselor ala Kohlberg after
one or two easy lessons--thanks to F&F funding.
Discussions leading children to adopt a
Stage 6 Manson/Kohlberg-type
morality are tricky. They begin with a dilemma. However it is not really a
MORAL dilemma. It is either a contrived fictional situation or a dilemma
resulting from a moral error. Someone has already lied, stolen, become
inconveniently pregnant, etc. What results is merely an argument about the
most expedient way to clean up the mess. The class discussions, whether
based on a situation resulting from a moral error or on a fictional dilemma
can never lead to a moral decision because it is too late. The dilemma is a
consequence of a moral error. The point-of-no-return has been passed; but
students, for the most part will not be aware of the distinction.
Teachers are programmed to use the following
strategy for guiding the so-called moral discussion:
Step 1. Present the dilemma.
Step 2. Create a division in the class on action that ought to be taken.
Step 3. Organize small group discussions in which students share, rank, and
justify their reasons for choosing a particular action.
Step 4. Guide a class discussion in terms of consequences, previous
dilemmas, and analogous dilemmas.
Step 5 Use probing questions to clarify, raise specific issues, raise
inter-issues, examine other roles, examine universal consequences.
Step 6. Bring the discussion to a close. Summarize reasons. Reflect on
actions. Choose an action. State reasons for choice.
The arguments could go on forever because a dilemma is a situation in which
there is no right answer. Whatever option is chosen it will have
disagreeable consequences. That is what a dilemma is – choosing between
undesirable alternatives. But whatever course of action a student chooses
he/she learns to claim that the action is right for him/her because it was
chosen after reflection and moral reasoning. Anything can be justified. Children who have gained limited knowledge in school, but who have learned
next to nothing from the world, are programmed to commit themselves to
emotion-arousing opinions, plan future courses of action, and argue with
each other on what actions should be taken.
The curriculum guide for
teachers requires them to lead students through the decision-making process
at every class level. However, to insure that eventually students will come
up with the right judgments according to the conceptual framework, they are
given clearly defined criteria to guide their thinking. The criteria are not
self-chosen as suggested in Kohlberg's Level 6. They are abstract moral
principles which have been chosen by the curriculum designers.
There is a special irony about the fact that Kohlberg's moral reasoning has
become so much a part of the social studies curriculum. While hundreds of
millions in F&F funding were promoting its use, Dr. Kohlberg, himself, was
deeply troubled and uncertain about the moral reasoning process. It is as
though the process has gone forward and left him behind. F&F funding is like
that. It is frequently found to be financing experiments on people on the
basis of unproved and incomplete theories.
Dr. Kohlberg was especially concerned about Stage 6 in the Moral Reasoning
theory. During an all-day seminar at Mount Mary College in Wauwatosa,
Wisconsin on March 18, 1985 Dr. Kohlberg stated that he was still struggling
with problems of his own personal development. Also, he was having a problem
trying to define the highest stage of moral thinking. In addition he stated
that he questioned some of the philosophical assumptions in his 1984 book,
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MORAL DEVELOPMENT, and the assumptions he made in 1981
that the 6th stage centered on justice. He later thought the 6th stage has
to be centered on a special integration of justice and beneficence. But then
he went on to question the wisdom of retaining stage 6 at all.
During the question period I was amazed by his openness and willingness to
accept negative comments about his lifetime labor. When I stepped up to the
microphone I expected to be silenced by caustic remarks as soon as he caught
on to the direction I was traveling. This had been my experience in the past
with many other speakers. But it didn't happen. Instead, Dr. Kohlberg seemed
to encourage further probing.
I started by saying: "It seems to me there is a great deal of arguing about what is moral and what
isn't moral, and it is very difficult to come to a decision in this moral
reasoning. And in studying some of the problems that are brought up, for
instance, abortion or premarital sex and all these thing, it seems to me
that many times students are arguing what they seem to be considering to be
moral choices and actually they are at the stage where there no longer is a
moral choice. When you're arguing about abortion, you're not arguing moral
reasoning or about anything moral at all. When that baby was
conceived--after that choice was made--the next choice is based only on
expediency. And then it's a matter of whose welfare is the most expedient
choice. It's no longer a matter of what is moral and what is immoral. Once
you have passed the position where the point-of-no-return is reached there
is no longer an opportunity to make a moral choice at all."
"We could get in a long moral dialogue about this. I would say this.
The situations you mention are moral in my terminology because they involve
respect for persons and the fetus is a person, and respect for the mother as
a person, possibly other people also. You said that the morality thing goes
back to the issue of conception in the morality of birth control. Really,
whether birth control is moral or not. As I understand, you push the moral
choice back from the time of abortion to the time of conception. Now, I
think people would take many different stands on this point of view because
the point of view is, when does an ovum become a person to be treated as a
person. This is a point on which different people think differently."
ERICA: "In order to have any kind of moral thinking whatsoever you have to be
dealing with intelligent people. Now, if a person does not want to have a
child it is not an intelligent thing to put yourself in a position where you
know you might have a child."
DR. K.: "I see what you're saying."
ERICA: "I think morality involves intelligence. Christ said, Come to me
with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and it seems to me
if a person gets to a point where he has to indulge in all this moral
reasoning and moral discussion it is because somewhere or another--way
back--I don't know how long ago, he didn't use his head."
DR. K.: "I see what you're saying. You’re saying that in a way that the kind
of dilemmas I've been talking about , the hypothetical dilemmas are kind of
remote from human life."
ERICA: "I'm not saying they are remote from human life. They are remote from
intelligent life. I think it's very foolish to get people arguing, arguing,
and arguing about the dilemma that is created when a wrong moral decision is
made because then you can only make an expedient decision. And that decision
is going to be expedient for the one who is the stronger. The person who has
the most power to bring about his decision is the one who is going to win.
There is no real argument. The stronger person is going to win."
"The reason we have morality and the reason that Christ told us the things he
did is so we can think about things, and use our heads about them, and do
the right thing. Well, once you've gone past the point where you can do the
right thing, there's no sense arguing any more. Then it's expediency.
"The same thing about those three people in the boat. My son pointed out to
me what the decision is going to be. You’re not going to sit and reason.
You're going to have the two people who are the stronger give the heave-ho
to the third."
DR. K.: (Laughed)
ERICA: I don't even think you can talk morality unless you talk about God,
and you're trying to be scientific about it, and it's impossible.
DR. K.: Now I think you've raised a very important point about not being
able to talk about morality without God. You've raised a number of
interesting issues which we can continue on discussing.
At this point another questioner took over. Dr. Kohlberg answered several
more interesting questions in a very cordial manner before the presentation
ended. I have since regretted that I did not make an effort to have a
personal discussion with him after the Mount Mary Symposium was over. Now,
however, the opportunity is gone. On January 12, 1987 Dr. Kohlberg
disappeared. On April 6, 1987 his body washed ashore in the marshes at the
tip of Logan Airport, an apparent suicide. He was 59.
In my own mind I no longer blame Dr. Kohlberg for continued use of the
problem-centered, decision-making curriculum in the social studies. Dr.
Kohlberg was left behind and his Moral Reasoning was taken over from the
first moment he expressed personal doubt. I believe it took exceptional
courage and honesty for him to say the things he said at Mount Mary College
about his own work.
For those now responsible, look to the National Council for the Social
Studies, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and other universities with their F & F
funding. And look to state governors and legislators who do not have the
sense, responsibility or courage to say 'no' to free money even when it is
used to buy moral and intellectual poison for the minds of Children.
Other articles by Erica Carle:
rid of sociological stupidity in schools |
Government religion in the
The Chamber of Commerce
| The Chamber of
Commerce: Blanket over the world
The Intelligent Student's Guide to the New World Order
© 2007 Erica Carle - All Rights Reserved
Carle is an independent researcher and writer. She has a B.S. degree from
the University of Wisconsin. She has been involved in radio and television
writing and production, and has also taught math and composition at the
private school her children attended in Brookfield, Wisconsin. For ten years
she wrote a weekly column, "Truth In Education" for WISCONSIN REPORT, and
served as Education Editor for that publication.
Her books are GIVE US THE YOUNG--$5 Plus $2.00 P&H WHY THINGS ARE THE WAY
THEY ARE--$16 PLUS $4.00 P&H BOTH BOOKS -- $25 Total. A loose leaf
collection of quotes titled, SIX GENERATIONS TO SERFDOM is also
available--$15 Plus $2.00 P&H. Mailing address: Erica Carle; PO Box 261; Elm
Grove, WI 53122.