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Popularized by the publication in 1966 of Louis Raths, Merrill Harmin, and Sidney Simon’s Values and Teaching, the “values clarification” approach to moral education emerged in part from a recognition of the ethical pluralism in an increasingly diverse democratic society. Proponents of values clarification rejected the notion that moral growth is best achieved through the direct inculcation of a fixed moral code and argued that students faced a bewildering array of conflicting messages about appropriate models and values they should choose to adopt. Accordingly, students needed to develop reflective and deliberative skills of moral reasoning.

Now often used as a generic term for a range of approaches aimed at identifying participants’ values and priorities, values clarification began as a specific curricular approach to moral education designed ...

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