The formation of conscience : pedagogy of the sacred
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This qualitative study explores Thomas Green's (1999) treatise, Voices: The Educational Formation of Conscience; for the purpose of reconstruing the transformative usefulness of conscience in moral education. Conscience is "reflexive judgment about things that matter" (Green, 1999, p. 21). Paul Lehmann (1963) suggested that we must "do the conscience over or do the conscience in" (p. 327). Thomas Green "does the conscience over", arguing that a philosophy of moral education, and not a moral philosophy, provides the only framework from which governance of moral behaviour can be understood. Narratives from four one-to-one interviews and a focus group are analysed and interpreted in search of: (a) awareness and understanding of conscience, (b) voices of conscience, (c) normation, (d) reflexive emotions, and (e) the idea of the sacred. Participants in this study (ages 16-21) demonstrated an active awareness of their conscience and a willingness to engage in a reflective process of their moral behaviour. They understood their conscience to be a process of self-judgment about what is right and wrong, and that its authority comes from within themselves. Narrative accounts from childhood indicated that conscience is there "from the beginning" with evidence of selfcorrecting behaviour. A maturing conscience is accompanied by an increased cognitive capacity, more complicated life experiences, and individualization. Moral motivation was grounded in " a desire to connect with things that are most important." A model for conscience formation is proposed, which visualizes a critical path of reflexive emotions. It is argued that schools, striving to shape good citizens, can promote conscience formation through a "curriculum of moral skills"; a curriculum that embraces complexity, diversity, social criticism, and selfhood.