Learning about ‘Life’ or valuing ‘Life’

This paper focuses on the education of future care-professionals. The current ‘standard-approach’ to teaching-practice entails that educational success is assessed following the paradigm of methodological behaviourism (Bernstein’s visual pedagogy). Our aim was to explore as to whether this approach, with its content-orientated learning-assessments, may be prone to neglect and thus not sufficiently develop the students’ moral development in terms of care-related values. We presented a sample (n=75) of Higher Education-students on various care-related degree-programmes with a questionnaire, containing a collection of scenarios posing moral dilemmas as developed by L. Kohlberg. We did not engage in a rating of the participants’ stages of moral development as proposed by Kohlberg. Our aim was to qualitatively and quantitatively explore the dimensions of a) authority and obedience b) the value of trust c) and the value of life as they emerged within the answers provided. Our research indicates the prevalence of an insufficient value-development for a disturbingly high number of future care-professionals across our sample. We argue that these effects are, at least partially, owed to the current style of content-orientated teaching and assessment while leaving the development and assessment of values out of focus. In this respect our argument challenges the current ‘standard-approach’. With our argument we try to advocate a teaching-practice that facilitates the secure development of care-related values even if these are difficult or impossible to assess in real-time and against pre-set performance-indicators as for example learning-outcomes.