Years of work in development of consciousness and cognitive structure of the mind led us to wonder how formal education facilitates human beings to develop the ability to empathize and make ethical decisions with wisdom and compassion. After extensive studies, an educational platform was created that aims to instill empathy, compassion, and reflective thinking in young children. This platform, known as “Universal Education for Ethical Development”, builds children’s inter-subjective social and emotional skills in the classroom and complements this by also working with teachers and parents. This innovative model enables children to make their own ethical decisions based on Inter-subjective understanding of the relations with other, rather than teach, transfer or inculcate specific set of values.
Ultimately, “Universal Education for Ethical Development” aims to tackle intolerance and conflict that arise from moral and cultural relativism. We believes that many conflicts, from large-scale military campaigns between nations to small-scale arguments within families, arise because people believe in their idea of truth and are disinterested in differing perspectives. Often, when people discover that their views are incompatible, social conflicts may arise, unless they are able to learn from such different views and empathize with one another and resolve their differences with wisdom.
From a pedagogical perspective, We argue that moral and cultural relativism is the result of educational methods that attempt to teach values which reflect a particular context or worldview, whether a specific religion, philosophy, socioeconomic, or cultural background. At best, this leads to the internalization of values that mirror a highly specific view of reality; at worst, it imposes certain ethical and moral norms on teachers and students, and prevents them from developing the empathy, wisdom, and compassion that are necessary for genuine universal values.
WHAT THE MODEL IS NOT
A child that has been in the program for two years was confronted with the following situation:
One day his mum bought him a pony, unfortunately this pony was not pure race and people started making comments such as, “this pony is ugly” or “This is not a proper pony” etc. One day when the child was brushing his pony her mum came to him and said; “I am sorry I could not bay a better pony for you but this is all what a manage to bay” the child look puzzle at her mum and said; “Mum people can see things as beautiful or not, but all that is in their minds my pony is neither beautiful nor is ugly is just a pony which I like and that, is what matters”
Another case scenario that can illustrate the outcome of the model is the following:
A child in the program was seating beside another child that was not into the program. The latter said; “I dislike the boy over there because is too fat” then the other one replied “fat in relation to what”.
According to our findings, trying to teach children values merely aggravates the moral and cultural relativism that complicate interpersonal relationships. Children will imitate the values their teachers and parents are trying to teach. In the best-case scenario, this instills in children the habit of reflexive response without internalized empathy and developed wisdom, thus failing to equip them to respond morally in unfamiliar situations. In the worst-case scenario, this habit of imitation can later lead to copying more pernicious behavior. Hence we believe “attitudes” begin to develop very early in childhood. Some children will naturally develop compassion and empathy on their own, while others do not or are never given the opportunity.