Moral Intelligence: Concluding Remarks and References

Education today is seen largely as an economic activity, not as a moral activity dedicated to enabling individuals and groups transform themselves and their environments in pursuit individual and collective well-being, security and welfare. Education should help develop the capacities that allow individuals to be capable, conscious and conscientious developers of themselves and their communities. Education that fails to address the moral aspects of life and develop moral intelligence to the fullest extent practical, has failed the individual, the society and the environment.

Moral intelligence can be defined as the ability to apply ethical principles to goals, values and actions. It is the ability to know right from wrong and behave ethically. It should be regarded as vital in holistic education along with the more generally accepted cognitive, social and emotional intelligences (Mayer and Salovey, 1993; Goleman, 1995; Bar-On and Parker, 2000; Riggio, 1986) that are essential parts of making a whole, healthy and balanced person.

Developing moral intelligence is a complex, difficult and lifelong process. Education can help foster the integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion identified by Lennick and Kiel, as well as the Borba’s virtues of empathy, conscience, self-control, respect, kindness, tolerance and fairness recommended and the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development’s (ASCD) moral curriculum of respect, caring, responsibility, integrity, reflection and conflict resolution. A holistic education needs to attend to all of these aspects of moral intelligence, as it is through moral endeavor that human potential and motivation are released and happiness and honor realized.


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About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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