One of the most difficult tasks teachers have is to convey to students the difference between pluralism (and respecting people who hold different views) on the one hand and relativism (the idea that no moralities or moral principles are more true, or objectively justifiable, than others) on the other. It is important to remember—and to remind students—that moral disagreements are almost always disagreements about what the truth is, what justice actually requires. ... If students come to believe that choosing a moral (or religious or political or scientific) position is like choosing what to eat from a buffet line, they will have misunderstood the nature of morality rather badly.
From an essay by the Unimsiry of North Carolina professor of philosophy Warren A. Nord in Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society. edited by Diane Ravitch and Joseph P. Viterill; and published this fall by Yale University Press.
A version of this article appeared in the December 12, 2001 edition of Education Week as WORTH NOTING