The role of values in education has be debated for a long, long time! Some think an explicit focus on values in education, curricula, schools and programmes is vital. Others think education and schools should not be focusing on values at all! However, most probably agree that you can’t actually keep values of schools and classroom. There will be some values involved whether we want it on not! But there are perennial debates and struggles about what should be done about values in schools and classrooms and how it should be done.
I have been involved in values education at classroom, school, curriculum and tertiary education level over a career spanning 46 years! I have in many ways lived and breathed values teaching and learning. I like to think I am an open minded and thoughtful kind of values educator. The swirling currents and winds of the field have interested and challenged me greatly throughout y career. Now that I am semi-retired I am looking forward to writing about values in education and discussing it with others. What I write in this blog and the comments, debates and discussions that take place within it will eventual result in some publications. I hope a number of you will join in this process.
So what is the dilemma? In fact I there are, as in any complex topic, a series of dilemmas! Just which dilemmas need to be addressed in this blog are not clear at this point! However, we have to start somewhere so I have two initial “dilemmas” that I will be addressed early in this blog. I sure a number of others will emerge as the blog unfolds!
The first of these is a “chess nut” that has been vigorously debated over the years. As schools and teachers consider what they will do about values: do we focus on a set of “core” values and virtues that we intend to “teach to” or “foster in” students; or do we discuss values with students and facilitate their understanding of values and their grow commitment to the values they see as important to them and to healthy communities and societies? This dilemma as I see it takes many forms. It is explored and debated as:
- socialisation or counter-socialisation?
- indoctrination or exploration?
- conservative/traditional/family values or progressive/liberal/modern values
The nature of this dilemma and how to “resolve” it and proceed will be one key focus of this blog.
Secondly, I have also long been interested another proposition that I will, somewhat arbitrarily, call the empathy or sceptism dilemma. There is a school of thinking that emerged in the USA in the 1980s that has not to my knowledge been discussed widely in New Zealand, Australia or the UK. This “movement” suggests that schools only need to “teach” two values – empathy and scepticism! I have mentioned this to a number of colleagues over the year but has quickly been dismissed. I believe this is regretable as I feel there are some real possibilities in this idea. So this blog will also have a major focus on this dilemma.
The Values and Virtues / Inquiry and Exploration Dilemma
The Empathy / Scepticism Dilemma