STIMULUS MATERIAL NO. 3

Summary from EQ Australia, Curriculum Corporation, Melbourne, (Summer 2003, Issue No. 4)

Article 1: Send reinforcements. We’re going to teach values
Article 2: Actions speak louder
Article 3: Nobody left to hate
Article 4: Making children whole
Article 5: Why values are big business
Article 6: A systemic approach to values education
Article 7: Values education – a way of life

Article 1 : Send reinforcements. We’re going to teach values

For teachers working in a pluralistic society, values education can feel like dangerous territory. Brian Hill offers schools and their communities sign posts to the way ahead.

Brian Hill – emeritus professor of Education at Murdoch University in Perth .

  • What happens if teachers avoid the confrontation aspects of ‘teaching’ values and stick to facts and issues? If this is all they are presented with, students get a very warped view of what makes the world go round. But it’s the safe way in the absence of an agreed school policy as to which values to teach and how to teach them.
  • Are the attempts by schools and systems to construct frameworks of values futile exercises? No school can operate can operate without committing itself to certain values. ‘Preparing them for the workforce’ is itself a value.
  • …we need to start negotiating with the interested parties – parents, teachers, students, leaders in education, business and the community, etc – to develop agreements at the level of values. We have got to try.
  • Among the values to be identified, there needs to be a sub-set of values that relate to how we actually teach values.
  • Students are persons, not pawns, and we owe it to them to develop their ability to evaluate beliefs and values, and choose which values to live by.
  • the way ahead…’committed impartiality’…the teacher does not try to exclude values discussion, but encourages it. In doing so, students are helped to understand the different world views and value traditions prominent in the life of their communities…
  • …we don’t, as teachers, pretend that we are neutral umpires without any value preferences of our own.
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Article 2: Actions speak louder

Clarification and identification of values is the beginning, not the end, of values education, argues David Aspin, who believes that students need to learn to become active agents of their moral beliefs and judgments.

David Aspin is emeritus professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University.

In schools, values exist, are found, embodied and presented in subjects throughout the whole curriculum.

These days, there is widespread acceptance of the view that no schooling is value-free; that everything schools do – the curricula they adopt, the forms of their organisation and administration, the staff they appoint, the pedagogical approaches they take up – are all imbued with value considerations of one sort or another. This is particularly true in the case of the curriculum. In schools, values exist, are found, embodied and presented in subjects throughout the whole curriculum.

However…some important questions are unanswered……’understand’, ‘clarify’, ‘reflect on’ and ‘value’. …..these terms give us no indication of what the students are actually to do when they have finished ‘valuing’ the contribution of their subject to their lives and their community.

…it is not sufficient for people to merely clarify the things they value and approve of, to desire those thing, accept them, prefer them, incline towards them and even to seek to emulate them. People must also accept them as binding – commit to adopting and implementing particular modes of conduct, types of judgement or kinds of choice, and the commend them to other people. One has to show that their value are generalisable and action guiding.

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Article 3: Nobody left to hate

Exclusion, bullying and violence can have tragic outcomes for whole schools as well as individuals. Toni Noble discusses how schools can use values education to teach students compassion and create environments that are physically and psychologically safe for all.

Pro-social values are like boomerangs – students learn that most people will treat them well if they treat others well.

How can we create schools and classroom where no one is excluded and bullied? It seems to me there are important lessons to be learned here that have direct implications for values education….A starting point in values education is to assess the kinds of classroom and school environments we have established. In what ways do those environments reflect the pro-social values that connect students, teachers and parents with each other?

In my view, however, values clarification will only take us part of the way in this undertaking. It misses out on the crucial element of values education. For that enterprise to do its real work, it is not sufficient for people to merely clarify the things they value and approve of, to desire those things, accept them, prefer the, incline towards them and even to seek to emulate them. People must also accept them as binding – commit to adopting and implementing particular modes of conduct, types of judgment or kinds of choice, and then commend them to other people. One has to show that their values are generalisable and action guiding.

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Article 4: Making children whole

In a world where the influence of the media and the Internet are starting to outstrip that of parent, integrated values education can help children develop essential discernment and flexibility, as Joy de Leo reports. A new holistic approach to the field has seen a shift in emphasis from content to process and from teacher to student.

Joy de Leo is director of Multicultural SA, President of UNESCO APNIEVE? Australia, and director of the UNESCO Centre for Values Education, Peace and Ecology in Adelaide.

In a community where values are both implicit and explicit, it is important that learners develop the awareness of how their own and others’ values influence their thinking, choices and actions. ,

Today children and young people are increasingly exposed to the values and ‘culture of the screen’, to which we have not given our consent, but which are imposed nonetheless upon us and our children. The influence of significant adults is increasingly diminished as the media and information technology usurp this role.

While values education is not a panacea for all ills, it represents an attempt to offset negative or destructive influences by encouraging children from an early age to develop skills of discernment and critical questioning, and by modeling and promoting values and behaviours that are conducive to positive and constructive relationships at school, in the family and society generally.

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Article 5: Why values are big business

The literature on values has been developing at a steady pace and the subject of values is receiving more mainstream attention in management circles, particularly in the field of organizational behaviour. Anthony Bishop provides an overview.

Anthony Bishop currently works in the fields of organizational strategy and development at the University of South Australia .

There has been confusion about values in recent literature. Dolan, Garcia and Auerbach (2003) suggests four types of values: core, aspirational, permission-to-play and accidental; while Hall opts for three: foundation, focus and future, linking them in with consciousness development. With a maze of values definitions it is hardly surprising that many organisations have decided to opt for ‘core values’.

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Article 6: A systemic approach to values education

Erica Womersley reflects upon the critical outcomes of values education, the potential of these outcomes to facilitate the development of healthy communities and the ways in which classroom teachers can help students achieve them.

Erica Womersley is curriculum policy offer, Essential Learning, with the Department of Education and Children’s Services in South Australia, and vice president Asian Pacific Network International.

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Article 7: Values education – a way of life

South Australia ’s Learning to Learn project says the best way to teach values is to enact them in every aspect of the education community. Ron Hoenig reports.

Ron Hoenig is communications coordinator, Learning Outcomes and Curriculum Group, Department of Education and Children’s Services in South Australia.

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