Brief history of Values Clarification: Origin, development, downfall, and reflections

Apuntes para una historia de la Clarificación de valores: origen, desarrollo, declive y reflexiones

Juan P. Dabdoub


Education on moral values is an area that has caused controversy in the 20th and 21st centuries, in particular due to the social rejection of the possible indoctrination of students. Louis Raths’ Values Clarification methodology was one of the most represen-tative proposals that attempted to outline a moral education free of indoctrination. With­out further examining philosophical argu­ments that have already been dealt with in numerous publications, this article holisti­cally studies the history of this approach in order to learn from the efforts, challenges, victories, and failures of those who have preceded us in the task of educating citizens with moral convictions. The article begins by presenting the main points of psychologist Carl Rogers’ theory that most influenced the origin of this methodology. It then intro­duces the social context in which the Values Clarification programme arises, a detailed description of its key points, the warm recep­tion it received and, finally, the criticism and assessments that led to its dizzying downfall. To conclude, three brief reflections on moral education are presented, which, although not new, are reinforced by the study undertaken in this article.

Please, cite this article as follows: Dabdoub, J. P. (2021). Apuntes para una historia de la Clarificación de valores: origen, desarrollo, declive y reflexiones | Brief history of Values Clarification: Origin, development, downfall, and reflections. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 79 (279), 289-304.

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Juan P. Dabdoub. Assistant Profes­sor in the School of Education and Psy­chology at the Universidad de Navarra, where he defended his doctoral thesis in 2019. He has been a member of the Education, Citizenship and Character Research Group since 2015. His research interests include the theory and practice of character education, educational lead­ership, and the design, implementation and evaluation of interventions that cul­tivate moral and civic virtue in school communities.