Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Exploring Curriculum Issues in the Teaching of Ethics

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Education Studies

DESCRIPTION The study-unit explores the meaning of curriculum understood as the way knowledge is selected and organised as a school programme, and how this relates to teaching/learning. It then goes into the Ethics Curriculum in Maltese schools specifically, having first explored the nature of ethics, as an area of human life, and what it can mean to educate in it. In other words having critically explored different approaches to ethics education and how these have been debated in the literature; principally as the teaching of rules and principles, or of virtues. The study-unit goes into the rationale, the underlying assumptions, and the structure of the ethics curriculum in primary and secondary schools in Malta up to SEC level; examining and discussing the principles and objectives of the programme against the background of the discussions on ethics education generally. It then enters into the programme’s knowledge content (i.e. what pupils in primary schools and students in secondary ones will be expected to learn through the ethics programme) incidentally strengthening the students’ knowledge of content, by focusing on a selection of the key areas of the curriculum for in-depth discussion that are relevant to this purpose.

Study-Unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to develop:
- An understanding of the nature and role of the curriculum in education generally and an engagement with different curriculum theories.
- A deep and specialised understanding of the ethics curriculum in Maltese schools (primary and secondary) specifically, of its aims, rationale and structure.
- An understanding of the key ideas and issues in different approaches to ethical education; more especially the rules-based, the virtue based, and the imagination/emotion based approaches.
- An understanding of the issues these different approaches raise for teachers in the ethics classroom as they will affect their teaching choices.
- A deeper knowledge and understanding of ethics, more especially of those aspects and theories that are directly and indirectly related to the ethics programme in the schools.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Name different curriculum theories and state how they are relevant to the teaching of ethics specifically in the school programme, as it relates to religious education, PSD, and social studies especially.
- Recognise the relevance of the ethics curriculum programme, its content and principles, in Maltese schools where they will be teaching from early primary to secondary up to SEC level.
- Name and define the ethical theories (virtue ethics, consequentialism, rights based ethics, Kantian ethics) teachers need to work with throughout the programme and that are at work in the curriculum.
- List the aims of the ethics curriculum in the social and educational formation of pupils/students and the issues it raises for teachers, which is indispensable to its teaching.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Examine curriculum theories through, to be able to identify those aspects of the theories that are relevant to the practical teaching of ethics in the classroom.
- Articulate the aims and objectives of the ethics curriculum in Maltese primary and secondary schools specifically and to translate them into learning programmes with clear outcomes for their pupils/students.
- Value the personal skills and stock of knowledge required for the teaching of ethics in the classroom, and to oneself possess such knowledge and skills as a teacher of ethics.
- Debate and discuss curricular issues in the teaching of ethics in the community of ethics teachers and to engage within it in curriculum development and change.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Burwood Les, (1996) ‘How Should Schools Respond to the Plurality of Values in a Multi-cultural Society?’, in Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp.415-427.
- Haynes, F. L. (1998) The Ethical School, Routledge.
- Lovlie Lars (1997) ‘The Use of Example in Moral Education’, Vol. 31 Issue 3, November, pp. 409-425.
- Osler, A., Starkey, H. (2010) Teachers and Human Rights Education, Trentham Books.
- Taylor, C. (1994) (Ed.) Multiculturalism, Princeton University Press.
- Wain, K. (1995) The Value Crisis: An Introduction to Ethics, Malta University Publishers.

Supplementary Readings:

- Graham, G. (2004) Eight Theories of Ethics, Routledge.
- Halstead Mark (1996) ‘Values and Values Education in Schools’, in Halstead, J. Mark, and Taylor, Monica, T. (Eds.) Values in Education and Education in Values, Falmer Press.
- Halstead, M., Taylor, M.J. (1996) Values in Education and Education in Values, The Falmer Press.
- Hand Michael (2014) ‘Towards a Theory of Moral Education’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 48, Issue 4, November, pp. 519-532.
- Noddings, N. (1984) Caring: a feminine approach to ethics and moral education, University of California.
- Skillen Anthony (1997) ‘Can Virtue be Taught – Especially these Days?’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 31 Issue 3, November, pp. 375-393.
- Steutel Jan W., (1997) ‘The Virtue Approach to Moral Education: Some Conceptual Clarifications’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 31 Issue 3, November, pp. 395-407.
- Taylor, C. (1991) The Ethics of Authenticity, Harvard University Press.
- White John (2016) ‘Moral Education and Education in Altruism: Two Replies to Michael Hand’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol. 50, Issue 3, pp. 448-460.
- Williams, B. (1985) Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Fontana.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Essay SEM2 Yes 50%
Examination (2 Hours) SEM2 Yes 50%

Joseph Vancell
Kenneth Wain

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.