Background to my interest in teaching children with autism

Piaget next turned his attention to the study of moral reasoning.  In 1932, he published a book entitled The Moral Judgment of the Child, in which he proposed several ideas which, at the time, seemed rather radical:

(1) that growth needs to progress through these developmental stages in the order given, since the acquisition of each stage depends on mastery of the preceding stages,

(2) that “the child is someone who constructs his own moral world view, who forms ideas about right and wrong, and fair and unfair, that are not the direct product of adult teaching and that are often maintained in the face of adult wishes to the contrary” (Gallagher, 1978, p. 26), mainly through interaction with his or her peers,

(3) that the development of moral reasoning, like reasoning in general, proceeds on a stage by stage basis (i.e., you have to work your way through each of the stages in order),

(4) that children can not reason morally beyond the level at which they can reason in general.  That is, judgements about right and wrong —  judgements concerning what ought to be done, and why — are limited by cognitive development in general, and

(5) that morality is not so much a function of what one does but of the reasoning that underlies the choice.  That is, the morality of any behaviour is not determined by what the child does but by why it does what it does, by the reasoning behind the behavior.

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