Our society is teeming with diversity and differing beliefs, which may seem problematic when asking the question of whether schools should help students understand moral choices and social issues. Despite an array of competing – and often conflictual – viewpoints, every society and community where people coexist institutes and lives by a set of common rules and expectations. Since schools prepare students to contribute and succeed in their societies, and because questions of morality and social issues are fundamental facets of society’s communal standards, schools should help students understand those issues and choices in order to help them succeed in their world.
First of all, a school’s function is education for the specific purpose of equipping young people for survival, and that survival relies on an understanding of basic moral principles. For example, incredible odds of accident and injury are beaten every day as millions of people drive on busy freeways, and our mutual safety, amidst masses of fast-moving vehicles weighing in the thousands, depends on cooperation with communal rules that we abide by with the expectations that others will, as well. Young people spend almost two decades or more in school before they are required to be independent, and their independent survival demands not just mathematical skills and historical knowledge, but an ability to work with others, to put in honest effort, to follow through, and be accountable. Morality does not belong solely to the religious sector, and the premise of our nation declares that all people are equal. This fundamental belief gives us a shared paradigm, which proves functional because a society that values human welfare has been historically proven to rise while others decline, such as the Roman and British empires.
Therefore, as schools provide the foundation for which people enter a society, helping them understand social morals, values, and issues is imperative in the course of education. We are seeing an education inflation where degrees do not guarantee employment, but if we reduce communities and societies to money making enterprises, we as moral agents lose that quality of life derived from being human and having the choice between right and wrong, however they are defined. Ultimately, people can only coexist with common rules, and schools should help students understand them and the moral issues they extend to.