Responsibility and Respect (The 4th and 5th R’s)

Moral educationChildren Need to Learn Responsibility and Respect

In addition to the 3 R’s, two key principles that children need to learn in order to to live a successful life are responsibility and respect. As we teach knowledge and information, these areas need to be taught through an ethical frame of reference.

Not all information is equally helpful in learning to become a good citizen. While we encourage good thinking, we also need to encourage good behavior in order to provide a well-rounded education.

“Responsibility and Respect – known among proponents as the fourth and fifth R’s – are increasingly being taught alongside academic subjects as schools try to address what many see as the declining moral fiber of the country’s youth.”

Lori Miller Kase, Reading, Writing, & Respect, Parents Magazine

Wouldn’t it be helpful if we taught subjects like these along with the traditional classes?

  • Learning Self-Control (When What You Want to Do Seems Really Fun, But You Shouldn’t Do It)
  • How to Be a Responsible Thinker (Thinking Beyond Yourself)
  • How To Treat Other People (What Respect Looks Like)

What is the Role of K-12 Education in Moral Education?

Moral education is the key to helping students become responsible citizens. Shouldn’t it be more important to know how to treat other people than to know the exact date something happened in history? One you can look up. The other is harder to learn, but is critical for a civil society.

“Character education has taken many different forms, and has varied monikers- moral reasoning, moral education, character development, and civic education- but the substance behind the names has a common thread. The need for children to become productive citizens in American society is the heart of character education. Moral reasoning is imperative for schools to incorporate to truly reach this mission: an educated citizenry.”

Dolph and Lynca, Moral Reasoning: A Necessary Standard of Learning in Today’s Classroom, Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives in Education

Throughout history, morality transmission has been present in education. Furthermore, many people believe that there is a connection between learning academically and the development of mental power, and the learning of moral values and the development of strength of character. The development of the intellect and of moral character are intimately related. Just as there is an order in nature (the laws of science), in reason (the laws of logic), and in the realm of numbers, so too is there a moral order. One thing we need to do is recover the belief that there is a transcendent, unchanging moral order, and restore it once more to a central place in the educational process. (Nash)

Morality in Education, University of Michigan Department of Psychology,

Teaching students how to research, read, write and do math is only part of the picture. Let’s make responsibility and respect equally important components of childhood education – then we’ll be developing the ethical leaders of the future.

Character Education Programs Designed for Children:


For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2013 Leading in Context LLC 


Don’t Separate “Ethics” From “Leadership”

By Linda Fisher Thornton

Preparing Leaders For Ethical Leadership

Preparing leaders for ethical leadership is a long-term process.  It requires careful thought about the messages we are sending. For example, what message are we sending when we separate ethics training from other leadership training?

The Risks of “Separate” Ethics Training

I believe that we take an unnecessary risk when we separate ethics training from the rest of a leader’s development. When we separate ethics training and leadership training, we may be unintentionally sending the message that ethics is separate from leadership. What could be the harm of separating ethics from leadership?

The Impact on the Leader’s Mindset

If we separate “ethics” from “leadership” as leaders are learning, they could develop the mindset that ethics is compartmentalized and that ethical decisions are different from other decisions.

Leaders who receive separate ethics training that is not an integral component in the rest of their leadership development may think of it as they would think about a vaccination, to be tolerated once in a while, but not something that should govern their thinking, choices and behavior every day.

Leaving Leaders to Fill in the Blanks

When ethics and leadership are not integrated during the learning process, leaders may have difficulty integrating ethics and leadership themselves in day-to-day practice.

Strong Leadership Without Ethics

One of the most worrisome possibilities of teaching ethics separately from leadership is this:

If we continue to teach leadership without its governing ethics and values built in, we could unintentionally be teaching people to use strong leadership that is outside of the boundaries of ethical behavior.


For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

Complexity and Childhood Education

We are Beginning to Understand the Kind of Educational Leadership that Prepares Young Students for Success in Our Complex World. Many forward-thinking leaders are advocating the following educational approaches and roles that lead to creativity, learning, growth and innovation:

The Teaching Approach is more organic, flowing, rather than rigid and fixed. It is responsive and based on where the learners and learner groups need to go to take their learning to the next level.

The Teacher functions more like the “media specialist” – a supportive, human hub of information used when needed as learners explore subjects in their own way to integrate information. A human guide to “how to learn what you need to know to succeed in tomorrow’s world” and not “how to memorize” or “how to pass a test.”

The Measurement considers individual and group progress and learning, not just measurement to a “minimum standard.” We measure what we want them to do – grow, learn, deepen knowledge and understanding, think about and solve complex problems, and treat one another respectfully. Discussion of “right” and “wrong” answers is avoided. Complexity is embraced and discussed openly – when could something be right and when could it be wrong? How does thinking about the question in terms of “right and wrong” oversimplify it?

The Environment is respectful, safe, engaging and low-stress. The joy of learning is apparent and anything that can make students feel “not good enough” has been removed. People support each other’s learning and place that first, ahead of any other external measures of success. Students are encouraged to find out what they love to learn about and pursue that learning with a passion. Movement and music are used as ways to explore learning and sitting still is not considered necessary for learning to happen.

The Leadership puts the well-being of the whole child in first position when making decisions, and one of the top goals is to nurture a love for learning, fun, exploration and wonder. Leaders understand that learning is an organic process and that memorization alone does not prepare learners for life and work in our complex world. Technology and social media are embraced for their ability to help meet learner’s needs but not used as an “end” in themselves. Grades are considered a form of judgement and are used minimally or phased out in favor of measures of learning progress.

The Learner is engaged in following curiosity, developing individual gifts and talents, respecting and helping others and preparing to use individual gifts and talents in service to others as healthy and productive citizen of our global society. Basic skills are learned in that context, providing meaning and the intrinsic motivation for learners to excel. In this scenario, homework gradually becomes an outdated construct and learners have more time to explore the natural world, stay physically active and participate in community service.

The Possibilities

I believe that students are capable of achieving much more than we realize when the restrictions on learning are removed and they are free to explore our complex world with their own curiosity and love for learning. There are many courageous principals and teachers who are making these changes in their classrooms and schools, even within an educational infrastructure that is struggling to adapt to a new model of learning.

When we believe that innovative educational leadership is attainable – instead of accepting things as they are – everything changes.

Sources for Learning:

Linda Fisher Thornton is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She is also CEO/Owner of Leading in Context LLC, a consulting firm helping business leaders lead responsibly in a complex world.  Her background includes:

  • Executive Leadership Experience as Chief Learning Officer of a Virginia Bank
  • 26 Year Record of Engaging Training Design, Curriculum Planning and Group Facilitation 
  • Bachelors Degree in Communication and Linguistics from the University of Virginia
  • Masters Degree in Adult Education and Human Development from George Washington University
  • Award-Winning History of  Community Service and Training Relevance


For more, see new book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014 Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2012 Leading in Context LLC 

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