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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: August 2009

6 - The Case for Moral Education


In the primary and secondary school curriculum moral education is always mentioned before all other subjects, because the right way of living is more important than anything else. Learning to live as a member of society, as a civilized citizen, is the most important thing. In order to lead a civilized life, we need models, ideas and guidelines, and we need discipline. Our instruction aims at getting the children to think about these subjects, and the final goal is to lead them in the right direction, to lead them to behave as they were taught. That is why moral education always is mentioned first, even before Korean language.

This is how a Korean schoolteacher underlined the importance of moral education in 1990, explaining something that for her was pretty obvious: If you fail to develop social skills, if you can't get along with your colleagues and friends, professional skills may be useless. In a Confucian country a person's human qualities (i.e., that he or she understands his or her role in society and performs in this role according to generally agreed upon norms) come first. This has had top priority in Korean education, and the schoolteacher expressed it quite clearly without making any reference to Confucius or Confucianism. This is probably the most significant aspect to note in a discussion of socialization and education as enculturation.