Education, Moral Agent, Weil, Liminality, Moral Language, Ethics, Dilemma, Moral End of Education, telos


We are facing a crisis in education: there is a vacuum where there once was an exhortation in terms of how teachers serve as moral models for their students. This reality becomes even more complex when the particular educator facing the dilemma has a specific religious perspective herself. The problem confronted in this philosophical study is how does today's educator, working in the public sector and having a particular religious background, best serve her students in her role as a moral agent, given an environment that is either vacuous of or even hostile toward the moral vector implicit in education. The following questions are considered: 1) Does education today have a moral end? 2) What should that moral end be? 3) What should the educator's role be in said education? 4) Has education historically served as a moral endeavor? 5) And finally, how much should a teacher with a specific religious basis for her morals allow that to affect her role as moral agent in a secular setting? In order to respond to these questions, an historical review of how teachers were traditionally expected to serve as moral agents was undertaken, as were a review of contemporary research on moral education and a consideration of numerous philosophers' perspectives. Simone Weil, a French philosopher and teacher, is looked to as an example of a woman who lived her life with a core set of beliefs that led her to both push boundaries and yet remain in a liminal space that allowed her to remain open to others' values and needs. Weil's liminal approach to life is explored in combination with MacIntyre's call to found a morality on virtues based on a teleological view of man. Ultimately it is suggested that the educator with a deep sense of faith must both strive to function in the liminality Weil represented, and to root herself deeply in her own faith, from which she will gain the strength to live within the necessary tension evoked by teaching in a secular institution.


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Graduation Date



Kaplan, Jeffrey


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education

Degree Program









Release Date

February 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

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Education Commons