Professor Kristján Kristjánsson, Deputy Director for Research, last week delivered a keynote address
at the Nordic
Education Research Association Conference, titled ‘A gap in the value layer? Trajectories, challenges and prospects of moral
A gap in the value layer? Trajectories, challenges and prospects of moral education post-2008
Recent years have witnessed a world-wide resurgence of interest in moral education, broadly understood, taking the form of explicit educational aims concerned with the socio-moral, psycho-moral and political development of students – with student well-being typically being given as the inclusive meta-objective of all those aims. Yet the aims in question are rooted in diverse theoretical backgrounds and issue in a disconcerting plurality of approaches. At times, contemporary moral education seems to be swimming in a sea of hopeless heterogeneity: Is there anything singular to be found in the prodigious plurality of approaches – any putative common point of departure? On one interpretation of the current situation, the mixed bag of theoretical assumptions underlying different programmes in moral education constitutes a hopeless hotchpotch of ill-assorted elements. On an alternative interpretation, contemporary moral education offers us a healthy melting-pot of elements that can be made to work – perhaps not simultaneously, but at least in conjunction with one another. The present paper explores the current state of the art in moral education through a concerto in three movements. The tempo in the first movement is adagio. It offers a condensed history of the trajectories (the ups and downs) of moral education, old and new. The paper then moves up a gear to an allegro movement on the challenges that moral education in school faces (from various quarters). It concludes finally with a fast-paced presto movement on the prospects for moral education in years ahead.