D. Hanesová, B. Kasáčová

Matej Bel University, Faculty of Education (SLOVAKIA)
The aim of this study is to present some results from a qualitative research of the moral world of current children. This survey was carried out through individual semi-structured micro-interviews and small group discussions during several religious education lessons in 2017. The sample consisted of 140 children aged 6-9 years old from various socio-economic, religious and ethnic backgrounds living in Slovakia. Children starting their school attendance are using their pre-school preconceptions as the main tools of their assessment and revealing of moral reality. Their interaction with the new school environment helps them gradually restructure their pre-knowledge and develop more mature moral reasoning based on richer moral experiences.

The researchers have put their effort in detecting the children’s moral as well as related religious preconceptions reflecting their understanding of morality. Interviews with grades 1 to 4 enabled the researchers to observe the maturing process of their moral reasoning resulting from the blend of school teaching with their family influence and their own experience. The simple questions in the interviews focused on several specific religious and moral concepts, such as good, evil, God, angel, heaven, church, prayer, death, or faith. The respondents were asked to define each of them, including the source of this knowledge, to verbalize their comprehension of the meaning of the concept as well as their own relationship to the concept. Model of methodology: UCD-ACR-NIM: UCD – Understanding Child´s Development; ACR – Analysis – Cathegories – Reflected theory; NIM – Narrative Instruments and Methods, was presented (ICERI 2015).

The purpose of this qualitative research was not to compare the respondents on the basis of different variables but to study and present children’s moral concepts as verbalized by them in the natural environment of their primary school. Reflecting various - predominantly cognitive development – theories (Piaget, Kohlberg, Gilligan, and Bronfenbrenner), the acquired data were classified according to some criteria (e.g. semantic/pragmatic meaning of the concept, relationship to reality, origin of the experience/knowledge, understanding its purpose) into several categories. The researchers head toward formulating their own new theoretical outcomes about development of the moral concepts of children living in their specific, above-described cultural environment.

This study on child’s moral life is a complementary component of a wider research project on current children and their world, carried out by a team of university researchers in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia. The overall project called ‘Children At The Threshold Of Education And Their World‘ (VEGA 1/0598/15) was supported by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic. Its overall aim was to update and innovate the knowledge about current children and their world. The researchers considered it especially important to investigate the current child’s moral thought typical for their development level in order to better understand how to link – in case of this partial study - their emerging morality with the institutional moral and religious education.