1st Edition

Moral Emotions and Human Interdependence in Character Education Beyond the One-Dimensional Self

By Agnieszka Bates Copyright 2021
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    Moral Emotions and Human Interdependence in Character Education challenges contemporary mainstream approaches to character education predicated on individualism, ‘essential virtues’ and generic ‘character skills’.

    This book synthesizes perspectives from phenomenology, psychology, cultural sociology and policy studies into a unique theoretical framework to reveal how ideas from positive psychology, emotional intelligence and Aristotelian virtues have found their way into the classroom. The idealized, self-reliant, resilient, atomized individual at the core of current character education is rejected as one-dimensional. Instead this book argues for an alternative, more complex pedagogy of interdependence that promotes students’ well-being by connecting them to the lives of others.

    This book is an essential read for academics, researchers, postgraduate students and school teachers interested in character education and social and emotional learning.

    PART I

    Character education: a critique

    1 Diverse disciplinary perspectives underpinning Social and Emotional Learning and character education

    2 Positive psychology and the triumph of technique

    3 Faith in therapy: the teacher as ‘therapist’

    4 Beyond therapy and technique: learning about virtues and vices

    5 The politics of character education: a loss of virtue?


    Phenomenological understandings of moral emotions and character formation

    6 A phenomenology of moral emotions

    7 Merleau-Ponty’s lectures on Child Psychology and Pedagogy

    8 Reclaiming ‘spaces which the heart feels’

    9 Character education and a ‘thousand contingencies’

    10 A pedagogy of interdependence



    Agnieszka Bates (EdD) is Head of Taught Provision in the School of Education at Bath Spa University, UK.  

    "This book lays bare the misguided simplifications that underpin much recent work on social and emotional education, and explains the potential harms arising from well-meaning therapeutic interventions and character education programmes. In place of these nostrums Bates offers a rich, insightful and nuanced analysis of childhood, adolescence, and teaching. Freed from lists of positive and negative emotions, or desirable character traits, teachers are invited to explore how character emerges through networks of relationships and to reflect on our shared moral lives." 

    Lee Jerome, Associate Professor of Education, Middlesex University 

    "Agnieszka Bates has produced a timely and scholarly account of a topic that is currently high profile in the policy landscape. The book includes a strong theoretical exploration and draws on Merleau-Ponty’s work in order to illuminate character education, what it means and why it is important, in an original manner. It extends our thinking in the area of morality and ethics and provides some fascinating insights into practices that are perhaps more complex than is sometimes imagined. This book should be of value and interest to educationalists, policy makers and policy analysts." 

    Meg Maguire, Professor of Sociology of Education, King’s College London 

    "Amidst concerns over a narrowing of students’ school experiences and reductive ‘toolkit-type’ pedagogical practices, character education is having something of a resurgent moment. Bates’s book presents a radical, policy and practice informed critique of mainstream character education and offers an alternative approach, framed as a moral and practical endeavour. Drawing principally on phenomenology, this lucid and insightful text offers a compelling read for teachers, school leaders, academics and policy makers alike." 

    Dr Malcolm Thorburn, Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh