In his pedagogic creed, John Dewey states, “I believe that moral education centers about this conception of the school as a mode of social life, that the best and deepest moral training is precisely that which one gets through having to enter into proper relations with others in a unity of work and thought. The present educational systems, so far as they destroy or neglect this unity, render it difficult or impossible to get any genuine, regular moral training."
There is already enough responsibility put on schools and the education system to develop students intellectually, should they also be responsible to develop students socially? Previously, I always felt that it was the responsibility of the parents or family for the moral training and development of a child. Whenever I have experienced a child misbehaving in public, or heard a story on the news about a child being convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison, my first thought has always been that his or her parents didn't raise him right.
This happened to me just before I started graduate school. I was at dinner with my mother at a small restaurant. This restaurant had a large sheet of paper posted on the wall with a container with crayons next to them and the paper was laden with drawings and written works from other customers. At the sight of this paper, two young boys from a family sitting at a table across from us ran up to the wall so they could add their own artistic pieces. However, since the sheet of paper was pretty high off the ground, the two boys jumped onto the chairs and then proceeded to climb on top of the table so they can draw. Two young boys standing on an old and unstable table where people eat off of didn't seem very safe or sanitary. I looked over at their family across from us, more specifically at the parents, and they didn't respond or pay any attention to their children. Immediately, in response to the lack of response from their parents, my mother said to the boys, "No no no! Don't stand on the table!"
Although the above situation wasn't the end of the world, and my mom probably exaggerated the urgency of the situation a little bit, I still agreed that the boys needed to be told to come down. I'm not too sure about most people, but I personally got most of my moral training from my parents, my religious background, and from the military. The truth of the matter is that many children that we see in schools may not have had that training from their parents, may not even have parents, and might not have any affiliation with a religion. The reason why I, like Dewey, believe that school should be responsible for the social development of a student is the simple fact that every child is required to go to school.
Dewey also says that school is an extension of social life. Imagine if no one had said anything to those boys in the above situation. They might have gone to school and jumped or climbed on the desks and might have fallen off because my mother wasn't there to tell them to get down. Okay, I'm exaggerating but you get the picture. Also, in class we heard about a high school student tweeting about drinking and other unacceptable behavior using racial slurs, profanity, etc. The student started following his teacher on twitter, but was completely oblivious to the fact that his posts were visible to the public including his teacher. The teacher approached him and told him that the posts were visible, and the student immediately ceased the posts on twitter and most likely resulted in the deletion of the previous posts and maybe the entire account. There has also been instances in the past where students ranked highly in athletics lost or didn't receive scholarship offers from top universities because of twitter posts that were racist or obscene. Dewey argues that education's goals and purpose are the same and that the purpose of school is not only to prepare students for life in the future, but school is responsible for teaching students how to live life now. As soon as I make a connection with a student, I immediately feel a responsibility for the student's intellectual development. I know now that as a future educator, I am responsible for the student's social, emotional, and ethical development as well.