About Paul Keown

Born and raised in Southland and Otago I studied at Canterbury University majoring in Geography. I then practised as a teacher, professional developer, curriculum developer and an educational researcher during a 40+ year career in education. My teaching and research was focused on social sciences, outdoor education, values education, environmental education and communities of practice. During this time I lived in Taranaki, Tasman Bay and the Waikato. Currently I am semi-retired in the wonderful Golden Bay district in North West Nelson. I continue to read, write and present in my areas of interest and "look after" a 10 hectare area of regeneration native bush! My wife Robin and I are also well involved in the Golden Bay community and we entertain our 4 children and 7 grand children when they come to visit!

Social Action as a Vital Value for the Times?

Social action is a powerful force. Every Labour weekend Radio New Zealand’s Concert Program airs the results of its ‘Settling the Score’ poll. For the last few years, ‘The Lark Ascending’ has come in first. Some have become a little sick of this and felt a new number one was needed.  


Peter Thomas head of Music at Epsom Girls Grammar discussed this with his students. The Girls at EGG enjoy singing their seniors school song. They sing it to the tune of Verdi’s ‘Grand March’ from the opera Aida. The outcome of the discussion resulted in the senior school music students and Mr. Thomas convincing large numbers of EGG students to vote for Verdi’s ‘Grand March’ in the RNZCP poll. Low and behold on Labour Day Verdi’s piece came out of nowhere to win the vote! It had not been in the top 100 before and raced straight to number one!

This event illustrates the fact that when young people undertake coordinated social action, things change! Greta Thunberg and students throughout the world (including many in NZ) are another example. The Students’ Strike for Climate (SS4C) is still fresh in our memories. 

These events are not a point to be noted by the young alone! Recent turnouts in elections have shown that a large number of eligible adults need to act too! In the 2017 general election, 88% of the eligible population enrolled, but 21% of those enrolled did not turn out to cast their vote!



The truth is those who do vote tend to be older, wealthier and white! The young, the poorer and ethnic minorities often don’t vote. (See the second link immediately above).

However, if the social action shown by the young recently continues and grows, and if other low voting groups follow suit, there would be some significant changes in the future. If we look at the difficulties our current Government is facing, a good deal of the lack of action for a kinder fairer society can be sheeted back the fact that status quo voters do vote! On the other hand, many who would benefit from positive change don’t vote!

The messages sent by the girls of EGG and SS4C need to taken to heart by all schools, teachers, families, Iwi, helping agencies, and anyone who wishes for action on the hard issues of the day! Tell them we need them to vote! Tell them they are important and their views are important! Tell them the small social action of casting your vote has enormous potential to change things and to improve things for those who usually don’t vote.

No names, no pack drill, a large slice of those who do vote are propping up a stale ‘business-as-usual’ approach. EGGs and SS4C are showing us the way to do it! Take action! It is as easy as getting enrolled to vote, and then getting to a polling booth to cast your vote in the 2020 Parliamentary election!

Make your hopes known. Vote for some who will deliver the kind of world you wish for!

Compulsory Reading for Science and Social Science Teachers

My apologies to readers for a long break between postings. However, I have been using my non-posting time to do some serious reading about the relationship between values and some of the major and intensifying issues facing us all in the first half of the 21st century. My quest started while I was in Germany and the UK over winter visiting our five grandchildren of that side of the world. I thoroughly enjoy the privilege of reading the Guardian and the Observer newspapers on a regular basis. The Guardian, in an article by Robert McCrum “The 100 best nonfiction books of all time,”  listed “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert number one! High praise indeed. In another article by the Observer Books team “The best brainy book of this decade,” “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari was ranked second. I had not read either so that’s where I started!

Special note: As this post is a backgrounder for further posts on the values implication of these two sources I have taken the liberty of drawing heavily on the Guardian reviews.  I have basically summarised their reviews of these books to save time and set the scene. You can read the full reviews using the links at the bottom of this post.   


The Sixth Extinction


Kolbert is a Journalist by trade but uses a huge amount of deep up-to-date research in each chapter most by following around cutting-edge researcher working each of the topics she addresses. For example, in chapter one she explores the rapid decline of the Panamanian Golden Frog. Her main informant in this chapter is Edgardo Griffith the director of the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Centre in central Panama.

See: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/scientists-try-to-save-the-frogs-as-time-runs-out/2012/12/30/3ac5ffec-48c3-11e2-8af9-9b50cb4605a7_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.289619ddb966

There are 13 chapters in the book and everyone is a gem in its own way. My favourites were chapters: 1 –  about the frogs; 3 – about the great auk, 10 – about bats and 12 about Neanderthals. Chapter 5 “Welcome to the Anthropocene”  is also a must-read.

Kolbert spells out the results of her investigations: “One-third of all reef-building corals, a third of all freshwater molluscs, a third of sharks and rays, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles, and a sixth of all birds are headed towards oblivion.” To update this you can go to the IUCN Red List at: https://www.iucnredlist.org/

Kolbert’s indictment of humanity is remorseless. She adds that “The losses are occurring all over: in the South Pacific, in the North Atlantic, in the Arctic and in the Sahel, in lakes and on islands, on mountaintops and in valleys.”

As you read The Sixth Extinction you just can’t evade the conclusion that ware on the brink of a great catastrophe, one in which the agent involved is not an inanimate object (such as an asteroid) or a geophysical force (such as the extreme global warming disaster of 250m years ago) but a sentient creature: ourselves. Homo sapiens may have enjoyed brilliant success on Earth but we have done so at the expense of virtually every other species. We are, as the Observer’s Robin McKie has put it, “the neighbours from hell”.


Sapiens: a brief history of humankind


Harari’s Sapiens has been described as another “epic” broad-brush history in the tradition of H.G. Well’s “The outline of History”. Both works review humanity’s origins back more than a million years. Harari’s book is eclectic in its scope, its readability, and its author’s willingness to offer ethical judgments.

Sapiens Cover

Harari’s main argument is that Sapiens came to dominate the world because it is the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers. He argues that prehistoric Sapiens were a key cause of the extinction of other human species such as the Neanderthals, along with numerous other megafauna. He further argues that the ability of Sapiens to cooperate in large numbers arises from its unique capacity to believe in things existing purely in the imagination, such as gods, nations, money and human rights. Harari claims that all large-scale human cooperation systems – including religions, political structurestrade networks and legal institutions – owe their emergence to Sapiens’ distinctive cognitive capacity for fiction.[5] Accordingly, Harari reads money as a system of mutual trust and sees political and economic systems as more or less identical with religions.

Harari’s key claim regarding the Agricultural Revolution is that while it promoted population growth for Sapiens and co-evolving species like wheat and cows, it made the lives of most individuals (and animals) worse than they had been when Sapiens were mostly hunter-gatherers, since their diet and daily lives became significantly less varied. Humans’ violent treatment of other animals is indeed a theme that runs throughout the book.

In discussing the unification of humankind, Harari argues that over its history, the trend for Sapiens has increasingly been towards political and economic interdependence. For centuries, the majority of humans have lived in empires, and capitalist globalization is effectively producing one, global empire. Harari argues that money, empires and universal religions are the principal drivers of this process.

Harari sees the Scientific Revolution as founded in an innovation in European thought, whereby elites became willing to admit to and hence to try and remedy their ignorance. He sees this as one driver of early modern European imperialism and of the current convergence of human cultures. Harari also emphasises the lack of research into the history of happiness, positing that people today are not significantly happier than in past eras.[6] He concludes by considering how modern technology may soon end the species as we know it, as it ushers in genetic engineeringimmortality and non-organic life. Humans have, in Harari’s chosen metaphor, become gods: they can create species.



Great Holiday Reading!



What’s Next, Meturia Turei and the Bloodless Revolution

The programme “Whats Next” that ran in on TVNZ over 5 nights recently touched upon the importance of values in what happens in everyday life, in what we think about the past, and the present and the future. Values drive action or inaction on the issues that matter most, and even in those that seem quite trivial. The programme received mixed reviews but probably came out more on the positive side than the negative.  A good overall review appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

One of the best summaries of what happened, the value of it, and on what the results may be was an editorial in the Wanganui Chronicle. Mark Dawson saw the programme as, possibly, part of a bloodless revolution. Dawson writes:

“The programme was bold and ambitious, and so were the ideas it threw up with presenters John Campbell and Nigel Latta, imbued with revolutionary fervour, leading a bunch of – yes – “futurists” in shaping the kind of country they wanted. Economic equality, the end of poverty, shareholding workers and technological innovation were all laudable landmarks along the route.”

He goes on to note that:

“Anti-establishment fever seems to be everywhere; the often-absent youth vote is making itself felt; hope and a vision for the future are outstripping the “we-stand-on-our-record” nod to the past.” After reviewing some of the outcomes of other recent elections around the world he asks “Will this epidemic of political disorderliness infect the New Zealand election? Do we have a party leader with enough fire in their belly to stand aside of the mainstream and rally the young and the disaffected to their cause? Or is it “steady as she goes, New Zealand”?

Interesting stuff in the light of Metiria Turei’s decision to come clean on the plight of beneficiaries by explaining her benefit fraud in the past. She states on her web page that her passion is: …

“…building a more equitable society; reducing unemployment, ending child poverty, ensuring all Kiwis live in warm, healthy homes and protecting our rivers and oceans for future generations.” 

In a recent speech in Christchurch she implied that her confession was an out flow from the fact that she …

 “… told the country that we would be a party that spoke truth to power, that we would tell the truth about what is happening for our families and our environment and we would not be silenced by claims that we should somehow be more moderate or more middle of the road…” 

One commentator, Verity Johnson a young journalist, TV Presenter and Comedian wrote in a Newshub article

“So Metiria Turei didn’t tell WINZ that she had flatmates. As a taxpayer, I don’t feel at all ripped off by this. In fact, it’s the first time ever I’ve felt inspired to vote. Before this, I was approaching voting in the general election like I do my tax return. It’s painful, dull and soul-crushingly uninspiring. I shouldn’t hate voting. I’m 22, well-educated and starry-eyed enough to be filled with political fire. But I do because I’ve never felt inspired by politicians. I’ve never been impressed with their honesty, integrity, or the policies that are firmly designed to appeal to the middle-class, white, 55-year-old, house-owning male voter. But when Turei came forward and said, …

1) she misled WINZ,

2) that she was scared about admitting it but felt she had a duty to do so, and

3) that the system was broken and she was the proof, it was the first time I’d properly respected a politician. 

It smacks of integrity. I know that is counterintuitive because she technically lied. But I still think this move is overwhelmingly honest. Her whole campaign is that the benefits aren’t enough to live on. You know she believes this because she clearly has been there and experienced it. She’s also prepared to fight for this moral principle by staking her political career on it. “

Verity Johnson with Paul Henry in  after signing her TV presenter contract in 2016

The over whelming reaction to Turei’s announcement from older writers has been negative. But here we have a young journalist saying she thinks what Turei has done and said shows integrity and honesty – speaking truth to power. It has inspired her to get interesting in politics and want to vote.

Is Turei the leader capable of rallying the young and poor? Observers have noted for years that the turn out of the young and the poor at elections is abysmal. The fact that the Green’s rating in the latest Colmar-Brunton poll has gone up by 4% may be an indication that the answer is yes?

In my first post on Changing Values over Time and Space, I noted that the most recent round of the World Values Survey (WVS) data from New Zealand found that under 29s voted 50 to 31 for the environment over economic growth. By comparison, 50 and overs voted 45 to 37 for economic growth over the environment. In my second post on the values change issue I presented a graph entitled The Forces Shaping Values Change. This chart focused on different values positions of the generations in selected countries in 2005. It showed in some countries like India and Nigeria the differences between generations are quite small. On the other hand in countries like Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, France and Sweden there are large variations in values between older and younger people. These countries are all culturally relatively similar to New Zealand. The graph makes it clear that in Western countries like NZ younger people are much more “progressive” in their values stance compared with the elder generations. That is, they are more attached to secular-rational values which place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority and where divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable. They are also much more supportive of self-expression values such as environmental protection, growing tolerance of foreigners, gays and lesbians and gender equality, and rising demands for participation in decision-making in economic and political life.

Verity Johnson illustrates the point. Most of the comment about Turei’s actions from middle and senior age opinion writers have been quite judgemental – more typical of a traditional society. Johnson, however, while knowing what Turei did was technical wrong, admires and is inspired by her ‘telling as it is’ and trying to fix a broken system. Typical of the secular-rational and self-expression ends of the two axises of the Inglehart and Welzel graph.

In relation to a response to my last post, Hazel Owen asked: ” What would you see as the main benefits of unpacking this data?” An important question that I will now attempt to answer briefly.

Firstly, because I am an ex-social sciences teacher I think that trying to understand our society and the world we live in is incredibly important. I believe that understanding how values work in society is an important part of this. The work on how values change through time and space helps secondary students move beyond the inculcation realm that we often get stuck in, to the counter-socialisation dimension. Looking at differences in generational values or in contrasting cultures is part of understanding how values differ in different contexts and how they influence us.

Secondly, applying the insights from the WVS findings to a current controversy we can see something of how different values positions are playing out. With the long and rich list of opinion articles about the Turei confession and its aftermath around at the moment teachers and senior pupils could have some lively dialogue! A bonus might be that an in-depth look at the issue might well spark the kind of interesting way into politics and voting Johnson experienced. The question raised by Dawson – is there a bloodless revolution going on could be another interesting angle to take.

Both of the reasons given above will, in my opinion, advance the vision of the NZ Curriculum to foster confident, connected, active, lifelong learners!

Values Change Through Time and Space – Part 2

In my last post I mentioned the World Values Survey (WVS). This is a fascinating long-term project conducted in a good number of countries around the globe. The Wikipedia Entry on the WVS is a good brief introduction to the study. The study is a European-based initiative and in 1981 when it started was focused mainly on more developed societies. But once the value of the study became evident it has expanded to include a wide range of countries. One of the most interesting outcomes has been the work political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel have done using the rich survey data.


They suggest that there are two major dimensions of cross-cultural variation in the world:

  • Traditional values versus Secular-rational values;
  • and Survival values versus Self-expression values.

The WVS home page explains these 4 key terms.

Traditional values emphasise the importance of religion, parent-child ties, deference to authority and traditional family values. People who embrace these values also reject divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide. These societies have high levels of national pride and a nationalistic outlook.

Secular-rational values have the opposite preferences to the traditional values. These societies place less emphasis on religion, traditional family values and authority. Divorce, abortion, euthanasia and suicide are seen as relatively acceptable. (Suicide is not necessarily more common.)

Survival values place emphasis on economic and physical security. It is linked with a relatively ethnocentric outlook and low levels of trust and tolerance.

Self-expression values give high priority to environmental protection, growing tolerance of foreigners, gays and lesbians and gender equality, and rising demands for participation in decision-making in economic and political life.

There is a very engaging and valuable resource available at the WVS website called the Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map. This map can be viewed over time and shows some very interest changes. You can play the time lapse resource labelled the “Live Cultural Map” on the WVS website.

I thoroughly recommend viewing this excellent resource. It makes a real impact!

The 2015 map, which is the most recent, is shown below.

The map shows the location of each country surveyed and identifies nine different cultural “types”.  The WVS data is used to plot the “location” if countries on two different scales – the Traditional vs secular-rational values scale on the left axis and the survival vs self-expression values scale on the bottom axis. So this resource shows clearly how values vary through different cultures and societies. This map is a powerful discussion resource.

For example, what does the map tell us about the values differences between Sweden, New Zealand, India and Tunisia?

And what are the contrasts between Protestant Europe, Catholic Europe and the Orthodox countries?

What might be some of the reasons for these large differences?

The WVS data can be used in a whole variety of ways when thinking about values.

The graph below right was produced by Russian scholar Professor Edouard Ponarin of the Department of Political Science and Sociology at the European University in St. Petersburg.  He plotted this graph to show that Russian values since the 1990s have moved in a very different direction from most of the rest of the world! He calls the change a “slide into greed and suspicion” while most of the rest of the world has become more positive in their values and beliefs.

The interested observer will note some other contrasts on this graph. Japan has moved strong toward secular-rational values and moderately toward self-expression values over the 1995 – 2015 period. Europe and English speaking countries have moved strongly toward more self-expression values and moderately toward more secular-rational values.

What other interesting changes can you or you students see on this chart?

Another very interesting

 use of WVS data …

… has been made by Inglehart and Welzel on page 112 of their book Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence first published in 2005.

This chart focuses on the different values positions of the generations in selected countries in 2005. You can see that in some countries like India and Nigeria the differences between generations are quite small. On the other hand in countries like Germany and Spain, there are large variations in values between older and younger people.

What would you or your students suggest explains these marked contrasts between countries?

If you or students wanted to do some analysis of the New Zealand Data from this study you can go to:


…and type New Zealand into the box at the top right.

So what are some of the over all findings from this study?

The Wikipedia page and the WVS findings and insights page list 30 main findings. Here a few examples.

  • People’s priorities shift from traditional to secular-rational values as their sense of security increases (or backwards from secular-rational values to traditional values as their sense of security decreases)
  • People’s priorities shift from survival to self-expression values as their sense of individual agency increases (or backwards from self-expression values to survival as the sense of individual agency decreases)
  • The strongest emphasis on traditional values and survival values is found in the Islamic societies of the Middle East. By contrast, the strongest emphasis on secular-rational values and self-expression values is found in the Protestant societies of Northern Europe
  • A specific subset of self-expression values—emancipative values—combines an emphasis on freedom of choice and equality of opportunities. Emancipative values, thus, involve priorities for lifestyle liberty, gender equality, personal autonomy and the voice of the people
  • If set in motion, human empowerment advances on three levels. On the socio-economic level, human empowerment advances as growing action resources increase people’s capabilities to exercise freedoms. On the socio-cultural level, human empowerment advances as rising emancipative values increase people’s aspirations to exercise freedoms. On the legal-institutional level, human empowerment advances as widened democratic rights increase people’s entitlements to exercise freedoms
  • As long as physical survival remains uncertain, the desire for physical and economic security tends to take higher priority than democracy. When basic physiological and safety needs are fulfilled there is a growing emphasis on self-expression values.
  • The spread of self-expression values leads to the emergence of democratic institutions, that enable people to gain growing freedom of choice in how to live their own lives
  • While economically advanced societies have been changing rather rapidly, countries that remained economically stagnant showed little value change. As a result, there has been a growing divergence between the prevailing values in low-income countries and high-income countries.
  • Although a majority of the world’s population still believes that men make better political leaders than women, this view is fading in advanced industrialised societies, and also among young people in less prosperous countries.
  • The WVS has shown that from 1981 to 2007 happiness rose in 45 of the 52 countries for which long-term data are available. Since 1981, economic development, democratisation, and rising social tolerance have increased the extent to which people perceive that they have free choice, which in turn has led to higher levels of happiness around the world.

This study is a values learning goldmine!  Throughly recommended!

Changing Values over Time and through Space.

I apologise to my readers for the long break in posts! Long story! But here I am back again!

There is a very interesting event going on at the moment. This is the “What Next?” programme hosted by Nigel Latta and John Campbell on TV1. I hope many teachers and classes are watching this programme and taking part. If you aren’t you can alway dip into it in other ways such as TVNZ on demand and the Whats Next website.


One of the interesting things about this program is the New Zealand Values Study is linked into the program:


This study has been recording the values and attitudes of NZs every year since 2009 and aims to continue for 20 years. There are 214 questions in this study.

Here an example of one of the questions from the NZAVS:

You might like to try this question with friends, family or in the classroom to see what people in your circles think. At the moment I have not been able to track down the full results of the NZAVS data. Hopefully, I might have more on this by next week.

There is another major study of NZ (and other countries) called the World Values Survey. This project began in 1981 and is continuing. There have been 6 rounds of this survey completed and a 7th round started in January 2017. This survey asks 228 questions about attitudes and values. It is much easier to get data from this study to look at and work with. The New Zealand Results for the 2011 survey is at:


Below are the results for one question:

It is interesting to note that under 29s vote 50 to 31 for the environment over economic growth. By comparison, 50 and overs voted 45 to 37 for economic growth over the environment. Would the young people you know or work with respond in the same manner as the under 29s? Try it out and see!

It will be interesting to see how the Whats Next? programme addresses values.

Next week my post will continue this theme and look in more depth at how values differ across the world based on data from the WVS. I also hope to have more information about how to access NZVAS data.

The Rape Culture ‘Debate’

What a fortnight it has been for values!  Since I started writing my last post on aspirational v real values using the Roast Busters I – III story it has been wall-to-wall reaction and discussion! After the incidents at Wellington College and St Pat’s Silverstream a lot has happened! The media has highlighted the issue ‘big time’.

See: http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/rape-culture-in-the-spotlight-a-week-to-forget-for-wellington-schools

The Prime Minister has weighed in and a group of young women lead by Mia Faiumu a Year 13 student at Wellington East Girls’College, organised a major event to protest the problem of rape culture in NZ schools outside WEC. After boys from Wellington College threatened to run over those at the protest, the site of the event was moved to Parliament.

Mia was interviewed on morning report …

See: bit.ly/2lIp7Ly or http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/20170310

Another teenager, 17yr old Eva McGauley, wrote a powerful piece “This is what it’s like for us”


She is a Youth Ambassador for HELP, a charitable trust supporting Sexual Abuse Survivors.

There are also a host of thoughtful articles at ‘Rape in NZ Join the Debate’ http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff-nation/assignments/rape-in-nz-join-the-debate

This discussion has been running since 2013 and is still continuing today.

It has been amazing to see the reaction of young people and adults alike to this issue. A public response saying the widely accepted civil society values, of respect, care, consideration, co-operation, empathy etc are being grossly violated by rape culture. Not only have they declared their thoughts and feelings, they have acted on them! This illustrates that critical inquiry and critical thinking are alive and well!

I will write about critical inquiry and critical thinking in more depth later in this blog. But for now, I will just explain this idea in simple terms. Firstly being critical in the sense of CI and CT does not mean being negative about everyone and everything! Being critical as we talk about it in social science terms is:

1. Focusing clearly on an issue. (Focus)

2. Examining the issue deeply- which means look at a range of perspectives on the issue – checking for facts, opinions, and bias. More on that later. (Investigation)

3. Having a genuine dialogue about the issues with peers, family, and community – preferably this dialogue should include some people who have real expertise in the issue. More on that later too. (Discussion)

4. Spending some time quietly thinking about everything covered in the above steps and possibly doing some more research and inquiry on things you feel you need more on. (Reflection)

5. Having critically examined and talked about the issue deciding of what should happen next (Asking the so what ? What now? questions)

6. Thinking through and planning how what seems to be needed can be put into action. (Action Plan)

7. Putting the plan into operation. (Take action)

Mia Faiumu, Eva McGauley and the participants in the Stuff Debate are testaments to the value of this process!

One last thought. I hear some saying that “this kind of inquiry is only for older students and adults!” Again, more on this later but – “not true”! You only have to look at the Communities of Inquiry run by the Philosophy for Children movement, or a couple of episodes of the Secret Lives of 4 and 5-Year-Olds to see that children are also capable of this kind of thinking and valuing. Once again, more on this in a future post!

The ‘Aspirational’ and ‘Real’ Values Dilemma

The overall title for this Blog is “Values in Education Dilemmas” and the ‘aspirational’ verses ‘real’ issue is an on going dilemma for parents, teachers and schools. In education as in life the aspirational values in our values and vision statements are just that, aspirational. What we often fail to recognise is there is often a large gap between our “aspirational” values and our “real” values. What makes this dilemma quite problematic is we often call our aspirational values our “core” values. They are what we want people to believe and to act upon. But unfortunately, as Marc Alan Schelske says “what most people don’t understand is that there are really two different kinds of ‘core’ values.” He describes the two as “aspirational” and “authentic”. Again here in this paragraph we have another of the very real problems about values in education and other parts of life. When people talk about values they often use different words to describe the same thing and then everyone ends up confused! In this paragraph the real distinction I am making is our “aspirational” values can be very different from what people variously call our “actual”/ “authentic”/ “real” values.

Image from Marc Alan Schelske at: http://www.marcalanschelske.com/real-or-aspirational-core-values/

One of my “bouquet” schools in an earlier post included on their website a link to an article by Jessica Lahey entitled “Why kids care more about achievement than helping others.”  This is very challenging and highly recommended! Lahey writes “A new study from Harvard University reveals that the message parents mean to send children about the value of empathy is being drowned out by the message we actually send: that we value achievement and happiness above all else.”  Lahey continues “ the authors point to a ‘rhetoric/reality gap,’ an incongruity between what adults tell children they should value and the messages we grown-ups actually send through our behaviour. We may pay lip service to values and empathy, but our children report hearing a very different message.” The study showed that while 96 percent of parents say they want to raise ethical, caring children, and cite the development of moral character as “very important, if not essential,” 80 percent of the youths surveyed reported that their parents “are more concerned about achievement or happiness than caring for others.” Approximately the same percentage reported that their teachers prioritize student achievement over caring. Surveyed students were three times as likely to agree as disagree with the statement “My parents are prouder if I get good grades in my class than if I’m a caring community member in class and school.” A quality infographic that summarises the study findings can be viewed here.

There is considerable evidence of this gap between what parents and schools tell young people they should be like and what the society, or groups with society, seem to be ‘saying’ to young people. As I write this boys at Wellington College have be outed – as a kind of ‘Roast Busters III’ – for Facebook comments about taking advantage of drunk girls. This is the third time in the last 5 years that such cases have been exposed in NZ secondary schools. In 2013 it was the original Roast Busters, in 2015 another incident dubbed “Roast Busters II” involving senior boys at another unnamed school was reported. The Wellington College Principal said of the current case the behaviour was not consistent with the school’s values. The schools vision statement says the school’s values include “insisting upon and fostering honesty, integrity, fairness, responsible leadership, mutual respect and tolerance.” The statement also highlights the character qualities of “high standards of behaviour and achievement” and community attributes of “caring.” I don’t know what the school vision and values statements of the original Roast Busters and other similar cases said but I am pretty sure that would they be similar to those outlined above.

Kyla Rayner Wellington Rape Crisis manager said of the recent incident “It’s good that this is being made public. Just because we don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. It’s not news to us, a lot of people are still holding to these values.” Further Maree Crabbe, who studies the effects of cyber bullying, sexting and pornography, told hundreds of parents at a workshop at Otago Boys’ High School that “pornography was giving young people a ‘distorted view’ of what was normal. Worryingly, pornography was becoming increasingly aggressive and often included degrading and violent acts against women.” This, she suggested, was changing many young people’s attitudes and expectations towards sex and giving people “a pretty disturbing model of normal.”

Image Chris Fitzsimon: In his article at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2011/06/01/the-wide-gap-between-rhetoric-and-reality/

Katie Fitzpatrick also made some very pertinent points in her NZ Herald column on this issue. She writes “This week’s news about Wellington College students’ discussions on Facebook raises yet again issues of rape culture, sexism and young people …. the attitudes expressed are a reflection of how women are represented in other online forums, in pornography and in television and film.” She continues … “The real issue is societal-wide attitudes to women and we all need to take responsibility” and then suggests that there is … “an opportunity at school for young people to engage with studying, critiquing and challenging how intimate relationships, sex and sexuality are being presented to them, and for them to learn relationship skills.

Another important point she makes is that … “the discussions have come to light despite occurring in a private Facebook page. This means at least one person involved in the discussion decided to challenge the attitudes being aired there and do something about it. Many young people are just as concerned with – and perhaps even more willing to challenge – these kinds of attitudes than adults are. We need to stop treating young people as problematic and wayward “naughty” kids, and start ensuring that they are able to engage in meaningful learning and discussion about these kinds of issues. It is not the role of schools to solve this societal problem but schools do have a role in engaging young people with learning about it.”

Powerful and influential aspects of current society are sending very different values to young people than the aspirational values they hear being promoted to them by schools and parents. The studies and cases reviewed here suggest we need to do more work on understanding and addressing the mismatch between ‘aspirational’ values and ‘actual’ enacted values! Although I don’t go along with all that Barnabus Piper has to say in his podcast about this at –  Complete Alignment – Get real with yourself!  – the exercise he describes there is well worth doing personally and with our students. It helps us to realise the how this dilemma effects our own values, habits and behaviours.



Bouquets 2: Two Secondary School Examples

Case Study Three: Hobsonville Point Secondary School

Hobsonville Point is a very new school – established in 2014 so now in just its 4th year. Its roll of 348 (2016) is 65% Pakeha , 12% Maori, 12% Asian and 4% Pasifika. It could be argued that because a brand new school starts from a blank slate that it will look closely at current and even future thinking and build a culture, a curriculum and an education based on current best practice. It seems that this is true of Hobsonville Point. The school has been very well reviewed by ERO who following their 2016 review concluded “Students at Hobsonville Point Secondary School are highly engaged in learning and appreciate the broad range of opportunities they have to grow personally and academically. Leaders and teachers work in partnership with students and their families to provoke thinking and inquiry, and to support personal excellence and growth.”

They have very interesting values and vision statements based on this diagram.  A better copy can be viewed at here:



It is interesting to note that values and vision appear as a kind of starting or end point in the diagram depending on where you start to read. You could read the diagram as the 5 values are all encompassing and everything is derived from these. Alternatively the vision could be the heart of the school and the rest is derived from that. Whatever way you chose to read it this is a powerful values-based conceptual diagram. If you look at the diagram and compare it with the values notions, concepts and ideas table eight of the 15 terms used in the values and habits rings appear in the table.

There are other aspects of the school’s approach that also place high priority on values. One example of this is the Learning Hub concept. Learning Hubs are small groups of no more than 15 students with a Learning Coach. This key person forms strong relationships with, and works in partnership with, students and their families.

The Coach provides a caring environment for academic and pastoral mentoring and guidance, and ensures each student is following a robust, challenging programme. Learners remain with the same Learning Coach for their time at school. The Learning Hub is a time for learners to be exposed to a wide range of ideas, interests, skills and experiences which support their learning. During Learning Hub time students develop skills around learning to learn, and the habits to be successful inquirers and self-directed learners.

The Learning Coach works with students to identify passions and link their interests and needs to their learning. Learners negotiate their LearnPath (personalised learning programme) with their Coach to ensure that what they are learning is relevant to them. The Coach supports and guides students to set and meet challenging learning goals.

Another is the idea of powerful partnerships. These are strong nurturing relationships between learning coach and students and families. Partnerships between business and community and taking action within the community to make a difference is also part of this. Steven Mouldey shows eloquently in some of his posts how this works in action. For example:



In his “What is the Essence of Your School” post Steven list five examples of the Powerful Partnerships concepts within his school:

  • Module Partnerships between Learning Areas to amplify learning opportunities
  • Learning Hub Partnerships between students, parents and Learning Coaches
  • Big Project Partnerships between students and community groups
  • Warm and Demanding Partnerships between Critical Friends (Staff member pairings)
  • Our special partnership with Hobsonville Point Primary School and our developing relationships with all our Contributing Schools.

The over all values message one gets from looking at the Hobson Point Secondary school is that they give high priority to the values of caring and empathy. They also place good deal of emphasis on hearing student voices and providing opportunities for individual and personalised programmes for them. The partnership aspect of the school also provides strong links between all aspects of the school life and with the community from parents, to businesses, to community groups, and to local bodies.


Case Study Four: Papakura High School

I will keep this brief as this already a longish post. The South Auckland Papakura High is very different school to Hobsonville Point. It was opened in 1954, so is a well established school. The roll of 635 (2015) is 64% Maori and 25% Pasifika and 8% Pakeha. The school has been a struggling one with poor ERO reports and a falling roll. The ERO report on the school in 2015 concluded “Papakura High School continues a history of poor performance and is not providing a curriculum that adequately promotes student learning. It has a declining roll and experiences challenge in recruiting or retaining effective leaders and staff. Significant further external support is required to provide a positive school culture and improve student achievement.”

However, a remarkable turn around appears to be underway. Under new leadership from the beginning of 2016. The change has been noticed and the Auckland Herald has published a 30 minute documentary of what happen during the first year of John Rohs Principalship. This documentary does not focus on values as such but the values underpinning school life in 2016 comes through clearly.

I strongly encourage readers to view the documentary available at:


My thoughts on the strong values that appear very influential in the school under Rohs are:

Rohs has a strong belief in the students. He refuses to accept that the pupils of the school are inferior in anyway. He refuses to give credence to the idea that poor student performance is a result of deficits associated with the Papakura community. He suggests the education approach in the school must be changed to build a sense of hope and belief in students, the school and the community. The documentary shows this process in action.

Three senior students from year 13 play a major part in the documentary. The comments of these students show the high esteem they hold of the Principal. They say things like:

  • It is important how we talk to each other.
  • He is caring and supports us.
  • He is not focussed on being strict, he is positive and encouraging and interested in relationships.
  • He is interested in our cultures and our languages, what we do and how we feel.

They also talk positively about their teachers and mentors. About deep acceptance, a sense of family, of encouragement, support and hope.

If I was asked to evaluate how well this school is living out the 8 values of NZC I would say something like this:

  • Diversity, Equity, Integrity, Respect and Community and Participation – top quality!
  • Excellence, Innovation & Inquiry – making good progress.
  • Environmental sustainability – I can’t tell from the evidence I have at the moment.

Some Values Bouquets

I feel that some aspects of my last two posts my have seemed a bit ‘preachy’ to my readers! While I do think that the points made in those two posts are important I have decided to go a bit more positive and upbeat in this post!

I am going to base my post this week around 2 case studies. There are many other schools I could have selected but in doing some online research these 5 stood out. They just what seem to me to be interesting and helpful examples of schools doing something special in the values in school area.

Case Study: Breens Intermediate – Christchurch

I selected this case study because I think it is a good follow on to my last post. This is primary school that has really worked over period of time to build their values across all aspects of school life. There are 4 video clips in TKI that outline this. All the videos are short (5 – 6 min).

The first clip (below) deals with how the Breens values were developed.


Their values are summed in this diagram.

Breens Tree 

One thing that is impressive about this first case study is the breadth and depth of the conversation the school has had with community, parents, and students in developing their values.

The second video covers the on going development and refinement of their vision and vales as expressed in the tree overtime. As they considered the kind of things included in the following advice available on TKI …

Values notions, concepts & ideas

… they realised had failed to include sufficient cultural diversity in their values and so they went back to their community to change that.



Another strength of Breens approach to the values is the extent to which they have built the values into everyday life in the classroom life of the school.



It could well be argued that if are values are strong they will help us in times of crisis. The final video explains what happened when the Christchurch earthquakes created just this kind of challenge to the school.



Case Study Two: Balmoral School – Auckland

I have chosen this school (which includes both a primary school and an intermediate) because its approach is quite different from that of Breens and illustrates interesting ideas about the various ways education about values is built into a school and its curriculum.

Their vision statement states that vision is “To value diversity and to develop curious, confident and connected learners.” This vision is very similar to the vision of the New Zealand Curriculum but is followed by a ‘Vision Story’ that expands on the vision. This and other aspects of the Balmoral Approach can be seen at:


The school has a well-developed learning model set out in the school prospectus above. The model features 5 aspects: Balmoral Habits; Numeracy and Literacy; Philosophy for Children (‘Whakaaro Tamariki’); and Curriculum Inquiry at Balmoral (C.I.B.)

Interestingly there is no specific mention of values as such instead values are woven throughout the vision and the learning model. The vision includes the ‘headline’ values diversity, curiosity (part of Innovation, inquiry and curiosity) and connected is an aspect of community and participation. Further it could be argued that confidence is part of respect (self esteem, self respect and self belief – see the notions, concepts and ideas diagram above).

However, there a number of other ways in which values are evident in the school’s innovative approach. The Balmoral Habits shown in the diagram below.

Balmoral Habits

A glance down the features column will reveal the many values that are embedded in the Balmoral Habits.

Another aspect of the Balmoral School learning model is that P4C is considered a key aspect of the student learning. The school newsletter of 9th September 2016 gave an explanation of the school’s use of P4C, including the following …

We see teaching of P4C to every child is vitally important if we want to develop citizens who are critical, caring and creative thinkers. When citizens behave in such a manner we believe that beliefs and prejudices will be challenged, critically thought through and creative solutions found. If this happens we will have a thoughtful progressive democracy.


Balmoral school appears to have a healthy focus on both values and habits and the critical thinking aspects of values page of NZC. This well-balanced approach is further enhanced by the use a very robust inquiry model throughout the school curriculum.

Curriculum Inquiry at Balmoral

This model has a strong focus on problem solving and action. And through this process provoking, empathising, brainstorming, prototyping and reflecting all include aspects of values, critical thinking and taking action.


Two quite contrasting but interesting approaches to the implementation of the values dimension of the New Zealand Curriculum!

Next week I will look at two interesting secondary school examples.



The Issue of the 3rd Dimension of Values in Schools

I have decided to make this weeks post on the topic raised by Hazel Owen. Hazel put her question this way.

I did note, however, the point you make that “specific values to be highlighted in your schools programme should be fully discussed and negotiated in the school’s community and once adopted should be clear evident in the “school’s philosophy, structures, curriculum, classrooms and relationships” and “everyday actions and interactions”.

What advice might you give to schools to help ensure that the values become the touchstone for decisions, and are interwoven through all everyday actions and interactions?

This is a very important and perceptive question. It has been noted many times in research about, and evaluations of, the way schools address values that they often start with a lot of enthusiasm and then run out of steam. Schools and their communities often begin their work on implementing a values dimension to their school by consulting to find out what values the parent community think should be at the heart of the schools values. From this they often decide on an acronym that sums these up and then organize a means of ensuring that these values are talked about, explained, explored and encouraged through, assemblies, posters, and classroom teaching. In some schools incentives and reward schemes are used to reinforce students positive action of the values. In some schools an outside programme such as the Virtues Project, Cornerstone Values etc are used.

As I mentioned in my last post this is all well and good but this is to focus almost exclusively on the first of the 3 key dimensions of values in education as set out in NZC. Last week I focused on the Empathy – Skepticism and the Socialisation – Counter-socialisation aspects of values education. As I pointed out I believe (and research shows) that the skepticism and counter-socialisation aspect is not address well in many schools. Now Hazel has raised the topic of the third dimension – that a schools programme should be fully discussed and negotiated in the school’s community and once adopted should be clearly evident in the all actions and interactions in the life of the school.

In early 2000s I was contracted to evaluate the 8-step living values programme. The 8 stages were:

  • Form a values project team and conduct a school values survey
  • Discuss and evaluate the results of the survey
  • Generate and publish an agreed school values statement or vision
  • Develop a school wide values education action plan
  • Develop and implement a values education training programme for all staff
  • Establish a bank of resources to support values education programmes in classrooms
  • Develop values education programmes and activities in all curriculum areas
  • Monitor student outcomes from the programmes and activities implemented.

The evaluation found that the early stages of the programme went well. The development and adoption of a school value statement went well, as in the first 3 bullet points, and were achieved in most schools. However, many schools did not move far beyond this point. Thus evidence for well thought out action plans, all staff training and the development the schools’ own resources and activities were often partial or non-existent. Only one school successfully monitored student outcomes.

The study also showed that values education is unfamiliar and controversial and getting all staff and all stages of the 8-point model working effectively was difficult. Building trust and commitment in what is seen as a risky area requires a good deal of tact, patience and time. As a result it is often difficult to sustain the effort for long enough to get to the point where the values statement and vision are clearly evident in the “school’s philosophy, structures, curriculum, classrooms and relationships” and “everyday actions and interactions”.

Steve Mouldey an Auckland secondary teacher puts it this way.

Each school sets out their vision – implemented to different levels by different schools, some completely through all staff members, some just believed by Senior Leadership. The Value Proposition, as I understand it, is about what you actually do compared to what you say you will do (much like Espoused Theory vs Theory in Use).

A parent in one school when asked about how well the values education programme in their school was going said of the school’s values of Respect, Responsibility, Empathy, Co-operation, Honesty (REACH) ….

Values espoused in REACH are not always apparent in the school grounds or the personal interactions between teachers and between teachers and students.

A number of those consulted in the development of the values statement in NZC said similar things. Professor Ivan Snook said:

Schools are often doing the reverse of what a values-oriented school would do.He recalls teaching a class of low-stream pupils at secondary school. “They said, ‘You’ve got to admit, sir, we’re the scum of the school.’ “Teachers have, by and large, been well-meaning but they’ve also been sarcastic and spoken about kids in a derogatory way, so I think there’s been a good deal of miseducation in values.”

A leading international researcher (Clements 2010) noted: (Scroll down to Page 2)

Consideration of the interrelation of values education and student well-being at school leads to the conclusion that student well-being is a positive observable outcome of the implementation of values as they are embedded in educational policy, leadership administration, and the explicit and hidden curriculum, and also as given tangible expression in pedagogical practices and the web of relationships among the various stakeholders of a school. Recent findings of the neurosciences have underscored the fact that in order to be effective, education must engage students across affective, cognitive and social domains.

So the message is clear. Achieving this last of the three dimensions of values education is difficult and demanding. Not many are able to achieve it at the moment although you can see there is plenty of talk about it. So what practical advice can I offer in answer to Hazel’s question?

  • Firstly, I would say given the difficulty of this aspect don’t expect to achieve it all at once! What I would do is sit down and discuss this issue with parents, staff and students. Yes, I think along with the Commissioner for Children that students of all ages should be able to have a say, be listened to and taken seriously – ‘Giving Children a Say in Their Own Education’ http://www.occ.org.nz/publications/submissions/).  Give them some of the kind of information in this post and ask what would they like the school to do about these issues now? You may be surprised by the responses. If I were to answer this question personally I would say lets look at our values statement and look at say our value of “respect” – which we have described as “treating other children, adults, the environment and property in a thoughtful manner.” Are we doing this in all aspects of our school life? Were are we falling down here? Look back the parent’s comment above that the REACH values are not always seen in action, or Snooks statement about ‘miseducation’ in values. What can we do to show true respect in these different aspects of school life? And then lets get on and do it!
  • Secondly I would suggest that some good practical advice is available on TKI. The resources on Inclusive Practices Action Planning (click on bullet point 7) and the Wellbeing @ School Action Planning (6th bullet point down) are excellent. While to some extent they sound a bit like the 8-step model discussed above they are both simpler and yet also very clear and specific. If shools used these resources as a way of producing a robust School Values Action Plan and then took long term time and energy needed to implement the plan they could go a long way toward achieving the goals of the 3rd dimension of values in education.