Moral values are the fundamental core of the human being, affecting nearly every aspect of life. Too often, parents of students attempt to shelter their children from being exposed to morals that contradict those of their family. Although the content of the book raised questions and concerns regarding ethical principles, The Scarlet Letter should not be banned from high school curricula as it promotes critical thinking and thoughtful classroom discussion on current societal views of moral values.
The book was banned for several reasons, including conflicts with religious and community values, sexual content, and emphasis on sin. However, the novel has reappeared in many high schools, backed with the argument of supplementing education. Morality should be discussed openly in the classroom because high school students are going to be faced with situations where they will experience values that differ from his or her own. In a place containing diversity, such as a public high school, there are multitudinous moral values, which come from the background and cultural practices of adolescents and their families.
It is the responsibility of the school and its staff to handle this in the proper way: through safe and facilitated discussion. The clashing of these ideals can often cause controversy in high schools, due to the fact that “although some forms of diversity may be considered educationally enriching, a major problem occ urs when the values which families transmit are in serious conflict with the values which underpin moral education in the common school” (Halstead 275). This journal recognizes that the existence of different moral values is a reality, since children have been taught them through his or her upbringing.
Continuing off of this point, the journal also addresses how these differences in beliefs can clash when put in proximity with ach other. Such a sensitive issue must be handled accordingly, because “as future citizens children must be taught public values of citizenship” (Halstead 276). There is a need for high schoolers to be educated on moral values as they gain new levels of independence and maturity. Still, there is a balance between educating on the existence of moral values and being careful not to promote certain beliefs over others.
As such, “in so far as schools concern themselves with private values, they should adopt a neutral stance: children need to be taught about private values, and preferably about a wide variety of private alues, so that the autonomous choice between alternatives becomes a real possibility” (Halstead 276). This further supports the argument that students must be made aware that different moral values exist, and how the high schools should take the job of educating the students on the wide array of such.
This is in an effort to prepare the developing adolescents for what they will face within and beyond his or her high school years. If The Scarlet Letter was to be included in high school classrooms, as it ought to be, it would allow for, and aid in, the discussion of these critical topics. This is due in large part to the fact that the ook is full of various ethical values, from the way society treats the protagonist to the way the protagonist handles her circumstances. For example, the townspeople in The Scarlet Letter constantly refer to Hester’s daughter, Pearl, as a devil- child.
Hester is an adulteress, which in turn causes society to view her as impure and to view her daughter as merely the result of an unforgivable sin. Teachers could utilize this scenario to create a controlled classroom debate on whether or not the high school students agree with the way this Puritan society handled Hester’s sin, or if he or she thinks it perhaps should ave been handled in a more ethical way. Morality and ethics should be addressed in a safe high school classroom environment, enabling students to see more clearly how others are impacted by the way they are treated.
Take the case of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, for example, and the way that her society publicly shamed her for her sin. Deeper than the own internal regret that Hester carried, “perhaps there was a more real torture in her first unattended footsteps from the threshold of the prison than even in the procession and spectacle that have been described, where she was made the ommon infamy, at which all mankind its finger” (Hawthorne 45). The Puritan society that Hester lives in is cracking down on her for her sin of adultery, but truthfully, the rest of the townspeople sin all the same.
Publicly shaming one person whose sin may seem more obvious is not ethical, and high school students could see that through the affect that ignominy had on Hester. Furthermore, the scarlet letter on Hester’s chest left deep internal scars as “it was a forcible type of the moral solitude in which the scarlet letter enveloped its fated wearer; partly by her own reserve, and partly by the ndistinctive though no longer so unkindly, withdrawal of her fellow-creatures” (Hawthorne 131).
Through Hester’s experiences, the reader can clearly see the effects of being shunned from society, and perhaps can apply that to circumstances occur within the high school. Hester is filled with an internal conflict and has been completely cast out by nearly every person she comes across. This sparks discussion on whether or not ignominy is morally right, and if anyone deserves to be treated that way, regardless of what he or she has done. Moreover, studying The Scarlet Letter could help elucidate a ire issue in high schools, that of which is bullying.
Making a connection between the novel and real-life situations, this moral summoned to point concern could be talked over in the classroom through reading the novel. Psychologist Steven Minton addresses bullying in stating, “I have come to see school bullying as just one of the many aspects of the aggressive marginalization of ‘minority” populations, so it seems to me that the large-scale anti-bullying programmers provide an opportunity to challenge ‘us and them’ thinking and interactions, amongst large groups of people, at formative ages” (43).
The us vs. em analogy that Minton utilizes parallels society vs. Hester in The Scarlet Letter. Teachers could see this as an opportunity to increase awareness about bullying and its effects, perhaps helping students to incorporate the novel when reflecting on his or her own moral choices regarding how they treat others who are different from them. Additionally, the impact of bullying in current society is deep, and “children’s involvement in school bullying –whether it be as a bully, victim, bully/victim, or bystander — has the potential to influence negatively their physical, social, and emotional well- being.
Engaging in efforts aimed at preventing bullying and victimization would create an opportunity for schools to address issues that undermine learning and healthy development” (Polanin and Vera 304). Anyone involved in bullying, which is continually present in high schools, is impacted negatively and teachers have a unique opportunity to address that in their classrooms, especially alongside The Scarlet Letter.
Nonetheless, parents still argue that schools should not take the job of teaching life lessons to the students because they feel as if it undermines the role and authority he or she has in the lives of their children. To illustrate, “American parents today face a perfect storm of cultural and social circumstances that undermine the very foundations of parental authority” (Taffel). Parents seem to fear that schools are replacing their job of teaching life lessons and morals to their children.
However, the role of parents is vital because “parents.. are the people responsible for instilling good and respectful behaviors in [the] children, not schools” (King). While parents ultimately have the job of bringing up their children according to the values of the family, education is such a prominent part of the child’s life, so it s imperative that public schools assist parents with this. Namely, “teachers spend a lot of time with their students throughout the course of the year.
They are influential by nature and often take advantage of opportunities to teach life lessons when they present themselves” (Meador). Teachers are presented with a very important opportunity to help their students become the best that they can be, and can use resources in school curricula to do so, such as The Scarlet Letter in high schools. To conclude, The Scarlet Letter should be implemented accordingly into high school syllabus, prompting pensive onversations and rational thought in regards to the ethical foundation of adolescents.
While there has certainly been disputation about including the book in high schools, The Scarlet Letter is an essential piece of education, having a profound effect on the development of students as they learn about miscellaneous moral values, the influence of his or her moral choices, and revealing more in depth some of the challenges that are faced in a high school. Modern society must stop limiting high school education through censorship and book banning, but rather employ these educationally enhancing materials.