Ideas > Architects of the Intellect > Coles: Moral Intelligence

Back to Home

Coles:

Moral Intelligence


Using character development as the basis of intelligence, Coles (1997) takes the position that moral intelligence is a valid theory of intelligence. Coles shows how children can become "smarter" in their inner characters and can learn empathy, respect, and how to live by the golden rule.


He suggests that, through the living example of others and through explicit dialogue about moral issues, children can become more skillful, more thoughtful, and more caring. The theory is founded on how values are born and shaped through the "moral archeology of childhood".

Much like emotional intelligence, a first cousin of this theory, the evidence of Cole's theory at work in the schools is epitomized by the public cry for character education. There are many problems in the social fabric publicized not just once daily on the nightly news but reoccurring on the twenty-four hour news formats.

The public is aware, as never before, of the craziness in society , and they want the schools to handle it. Again, evidence of programs that focus on moral issues are seen in the rising use of case studies and in the ethical issues that arise in the emerging use of problem-based learning units. From the early grades through middle school and into the high school years, attention to social skills and social responsibility is part of the cooperative learning agenda. Character education is prominent on the agenda in the burgeoning curriculum of today's schools.