Forming a Correct Conscience

Forming a Correct Conscience
There are two main environments in which a correct conscience is molded. The primary environment is the home, where the family begins the shaping of a child?s conscience and their ability to choose right from wrong; and, the second environment, which is just as crucial as the first, is school. From the age of five until the age of eighteen, school is a central part of a child?s life. These years are the most impressionable and the most easily influenced. The educational system and the teachers within it become important agents in aiding children in the development of morally and socially sensitive consciences, which then facilitates them in becoming upright adults who are able to successfully function in society and interact with others. Various institutional programs and in-class frameworks build upon the foundation of values taught and reinforced in the home.
Within the early years of education, teachers help children form a correct conscience by relying on their own in-class framework and approach to issues. For example, every day in a kindergarten class, students take a nap for an hour, and after their nap they receive a snack. However, one day, one of the kindergartners decides that he does not want to take a nap, but instead wants the snack. While all the other children are sleeping, he gets up and eats all of the snacks, so that none are left for anybody else. The teacher builds upon this incident by taking away his snack privileges and by showing him how stealing from others hurt not only his classmates, but himself as well. By stressing that stealing is bad and that following rules is good, the teacher is helping to establish a foundation for deciding right from wrong.
Teachers have a large responsibility especially when children are younger and more impressionable. They often look towards the teacher as a role model and authority figure, and because of this they often assume the actions of the teacher to be correct and acceptable. Therefore, teachers try to foster correct consciences in their students by being good examples themselves. When the teaching staff show respect for one another, or when teachers respect each of their students as individuals, they are able to instill in students a mutual respect for one another. For example, during recess, a little third grade girl, Susie pulls her friend?s hair because her friend will not share her toy. Her friend begins to cry and subsequently tells the teacher. The teacher tells Susie that it is not right to hurt someone else because she would not want to be hurt herself. She also explains to her friend that it is better to share with others, than it is to be selfish because she would not like it if somebody didn?t share with her.
Values and morals, which are the basis of a correct conscience, are developed by students more readily because of the social setting in which they are placed and because of the encouragement given by teachers. By praising certain acts and virtues, such as generosity, respect, and kindness, and condemning acts, such as violence, lying, and cheating, teachers and schools are able to reinforce the idea of right and wrong, and good and bad.
When children reach the adolescent stage in their life, peer pressure and other outside influences may hinder their ability to choose right from wrong. To help counteract these potentially harmful influences, institutional programs such as dare, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, are incorporated into the curriculum. The emphasis of dare is to help students recognize and resist the many direct and subtle pressures that influence them to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, inhalants, or other drugs or to engage in violence. Even though students may consciously know that drug abuse and violence is wrong, they may still do it anyway. This program helps to fortify the lessons that they learned early in their life, and to follow their conscience in all circumstances.
For many children throughout their lives, school becomes a second home to them, and teachers become a second family. Students are put into a mini society of their peers with a teacher to help guide them. They are able to cultivate social understanding and interaction with others, and develop a moral compass to help them make the right decisions. Overall, the school system plays an integral role in forming a correct conscience to the extent that upon graduation into society, students are able to take the lessons learned and apply them to everyday life.

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