Moral education of children by the Lithuanian peasant family in the first half of the 20th century

Irena Stonkuvienė

Based on quantitative investigation material, the reality of moral education in a peasant family of Griškabūdis area during the first half of the 20th century is analysed. The relationships between moral and religious education, as well as personal relations with the nature, the society etc. are examined in the article. Principles of moral education, its content, means and methods are discussed. The goal is pursued to reveal not only the theoretical side of the moral education, but also its realisation in practice.

Perhaps the most important feature and principle of traditional education was found to be the inseparable relation of education to the real life. The education was not an exceptional action. The life was not divided into the daily life and the being, but it had strict understanding of “order” and “disorder”; thus, a child was involved into a strict moral reality. The education was an uninterrupted process under natural conditions, when a child was playing, working and communing with other people. Here the principles of system approach and education continuity are manifested. The content of the moral education depended on peasant’s way of life and needs of living in a community, but the form of education was defined by the Decalogue and the folk etiquette. First of all, the respondents distinguished the Fourth Commandment: Honour your father and your mother, then followed the Seventh: You shall not steel, the Eight: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. The Sixth: You shall not commit adultery, the Fifth: You shall not murder and the Third Commandment: you shall not do any work on the seventh day. The folk etiquette proposed such categories as nice and bad to regulate the behaviour of children at home and in public, during feasts and daily routine, defined the relations of children with the adults and coevals. The suppressing methods (instructions enhanced by banning and threatening, as well as punishment) were used more often than the promoting ones (praise, award etc.), but the folk pedagogy cannot be called the pedagogy of birch rod, because corporal punishment was not the main measure and it was used only in rare cases.