Ethics, Democracy and Education in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, and the New Reform of Education in Norway. An Approach to teaching these works in Norwegian upper secondary school
The following thesis investigates how two novels, Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) and J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999), demonstrate ethical dilemmas and how they can be used to help students develop ethical awareness and educate democratic citizens with the ability to think critically. Furthermore, this thesis discusses and suggests ways and approaches to teaching these literary works in upper secondary school. The new Core Elements for education on all levels in Norway have been renewed and include new values and principles. These guidelines create room to discuss and evaluate teaching theories and methods for learning in today’s school. Critical thinking and ethical awareness, democracy and citizenship are new values in the core curriculum, which are all ethical questions of human concerns, public society, and global challenge. Beloved and Disgrace both demonstrate issues within the societies they take place and pose moral dilemmas and provoke ethical discussions. Moreover, the novels confront historical traumas and present the relationship between empathy and ethics. In response to the novels’ intensive moral controversies, the argumentation of this thesis addresses questions as to how and why we should educate children and adolescents to become ‘ethically aware’ and responsible human beings, and why and how we can use literature, in this case, Beloved and Disgrace, to accomplish that goal. Further, it problematizes the new Core Elements and its ambitions, and questions how educators incorporate ethical dilemmas in schools today. To discuss the ethical dilemmas in the novels further and in more detail, two opposing ethical schools are used to enhance and problematize the portrayal of the ethical dimensions of the novels. Ethics is a discipline in which the moral permissibility of actions is based on absolute values, yet in this discussion, the opposing ethics are used to portray and interpret the complex issues posed in Beloved and Disgrace. Kant’s moral theory and Utilitarianism will be used to discuss the ethical dilemmas in the novels and how they portray a wider universal dimension of the racial and sexist system of society. This thesis will add to the discussion of the use of literature in Norwegian classrooms in an increasingly digital world. Additionally, it will discuss why novels with elaborate stories should be considered as learning material with excellent opportunities for ethical discussion and learning within a variety of themes. The goal is to bring new insights to the future of English education in Norway, and especially how we view the use of literature in discussions of ethics and morality in light of the new curriculum.
PublisherUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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