Adolescents' moral self-cultivation through emulation: Implications for modelling in moral education

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This paper aims to offer a new perspective on role modelling by examining adolescents’ own efforts to lead a morally virtuous life. While traditional approaches to moral education emphasize the importance of teachers as role models, this study proposes a shift in focus towards adolescents’ own role models. Drawing on the philosophical concept of moral self-cultivation and psychological insights on identity development and social cognitive learning, it is argued that adolescents have the ability to cultivate their moral character by emulating others. However, empirical evidence suggests that adolescents often do not perceive teachers as their role models. Consequently, moral educational theories are advised to demand less of teachers as role models. Teachers could invest more time in understanding students’ personal role models and encourage them to compare these role models with their own behavior. By acknowledging and addressing students’ role models, teachers can facilitate the moral self-cultivation of adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Moral Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2023


  • >
  • Emulation
  • Adolescence
  • Modelling
  • Self-cultivation
  • Teaching

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