WHAT DO THE WORDS “GOOD” AND “CARE” MEAN FOR CHILDREN?: A RESEARCH QUESTION FROM AN EDUCATIVE ACTIVITY
University of Verona (ITALY)
About this paper:
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:“Melarete” is an educative and research project aimed at educating children to virtue ethics and exploring children’s ethical thinking. The theoretical framework of the educative proposal is rooted in the ancient philosophy, especially in the Aristotelian thought, according to which virtues are learned by doing virtuous actions, and in the Socratic paideia, that encourages people to examine ethical concepts. The framework of the research is rooted in the naturalistic epistemology, according to which the objects of inquiry should be studied in the context in which they appear. In the last year, the project involved six fourth-grade classes of primary schools located in two cities in the North and in the Centre of Italy. The educative path implied twelve meetings between the researcher and the children: during each meeting, the children were involved in activities aimed at promoting ethical reflections. At the beginning of the educative path, the first activity was the reading of a story regarding a caring act. The use of the story works as a strategy to frame up the project because it focuses the children’s attention on acting with care in order to search for what is good. After the story has been read, the children were involved in a Socratic conversation and the researcher asked them some questions. Two of these questions were: “The word ‘good’ is a beautiful word. What comes to your mind when you hear this word?” and “The word ‘care’ is another beautiful word. What comes to your mind when you hear this word?”.
The conversations were audio-recorded and verbatim transcribed in an anonymous form. The collected qualitative data were analyzed on the basis of an inductive and phenomenological approach. The findings highlight the richness of children’s ethical thinking and allow to understand what the words “good” and “care” mean for them.
Keywords: Ethical education, virtue ethics, primary school, qualitative research.