Value education is vital within the school system because it offers students critical elements for cultural survival and a sense of duty to the society. However, Townsend and Lasley hold opposing positions since on one hand; Lasley (1) asserts that schools are providing proper value education to their students, while on the contrary, Townsend (1) insists that learning institutions should do more to instill values in students. Lasley (1), through his article (“Character Education Will Probably Fail”), focuses on various issues that pose a threat to value education within the American society and holds that even though character education is working, it will fail because of adverse cultural effects. Alternatively, Townsend (1) uses his paper (“Focus not only on Reading and Writing but Also Right and Wrong”) to posit that American schools can do better in instilling values within students. Therefore, both Townsend and Lasley both discuss the state of value education in schools, but Townsend makes a more persuasive claim by introducing a broad historical and cultural view.
The First Key Focus Area by Both Authors
According to Townsend (1), values are not important to America and thus, schools and the society consider value education as a less essential activity. Townsend (2) supports this claim by citing different cases within learning institutions and the community, where young people only focus on selfish gains rather than selfless acts. This author additionally makes his argument stronger by employing different rhetorical appeals such as logos. Case in point, Townsend (1) applies inductive reasoning to analyze a survey of 1000 American young people and concludes that the American youth is yet to learn the importance of values. On the other hand, Lasley (1) claims that value education within the US society is facing different challenges as Americans put enormous pressure on schools. Lasley (1) notes that as much as schools are helping to instill values in students, issues such as social learning, curriculum and culture are posing serious threats to character education. Lasley (1) also uses a rhetoric approach (deductive reasoning) by proposing that since children learn a lot from what they see and hear, schools can build value education around a visual curriculum.

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Both Townsend and Lasley share similar viewpoints of the state of value education in the American society, in addition to providing compelling arguments. However, Townsend has a stronger claim than Lasley since he uses more efficient mechanisms including citing numerous past events, which date back as far as the 19th century.

The Second Key Focus Area by Both Authors
Secondly, Townsend (4) argues that schools may be inhibiting value education through the different teaching tools they use. For instance, Townsend (4) states that the “Values and Teaching Guide” common in learning institutions is doing more damage than good as it forces values on children rather than creating adequate conditions for them. Besides, Townsend (4) applies inductive reasoning by citing a book by the CMD (Center for Moral Development) to generalize the inadequacies within the American school system. Lasley (2) also notes that learning institutions are posing a substantial threat to value education because they do not implement given mechanisms appropriately. For instance, according to Lasley (2), teachers may encourage cooperation among students, but in the end use class performance to rank these children. As a result, the students focus on reading and neglect crucial values such as social responsibility. Some of the rhetorical appeals in Lasley’s claim include pathos, that is, using the class setting to paint a clear picture of how schools limit character education (Lasley 2).

Townsend and Lasley clearly explain how schools may be adversely affecting character education for children. Nonetheless, Townsend makes his argument more substantial than Lasley’s as he employs more rhetorical appeals including ethos to strengthen his position. Case in point, Townsend states that he is interested in value education because as a teacher, he has a first-hand experience of how students lack proper character.

Different Focus Areas by the Authors
On one hand, Townsend (6) focuses on the negative impact of advocating particular virtues among children. Townsend (6) cites various research studies, such as one article by Gerald Paske, which argues that teaching children to practice the value of honoring their parents may encourage them to embrace retirement programs, which end up frustrating their parents’ efforts. The rhetorical appeal, in this case, is inductive reasoning (logos) as Townsend (6) uses a specific example to represent a larger situation. On the other hand, Lasley (2) holds a different view from Townsend (6), by positing that children can only acquire values through influence rather than education. Lasley (2) additionally states that it is only through practicing good actions and not adult perfection that students can gain the right values. Lasley’s argument is strong because he uses deductive reasoning to arrive at a particular case of how children can attain values. The differences between Townsend’s and Lasley’s accounts strengthen their arguments as both authors use them to advance their research.

Townsend and Lasley both describe the state of character education in the American school system, but Townsend has a strong argument than Lasley due to his wider cultural and historical view of the issue. Both authors hold that schools do not adequately acknowledge character education and that they have ineffective mechanisms in place, which only inhibit values among students. Townsend’s account is stronger than Lasley’s as his argument contains compelling rhetorical appeals and more citations of past events. Ultimately, for schools to properly instill values in their students, they should establish proper mechanisms that do not force or specify given values upon children but create positive conditions to build character.

  • Lasley II, T. J. (2005). Character Education Will Likely Fail. In M. E. Williams, Education. Diego: Greenhaven Press.
  • Townsend, K. K. (1990). Not Just Read and Write, but Right and Wrong: Our Schools Need to Teach Values, Too. Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 9, 2016.