Putting values first in education

One of my favourite quotes is: “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.” from D.L.Moody.

Our character is very much defined by our values and, based on this, we have a responsibility to put values at the forefront of every child’s education.

The news that we are fed appears to be a constant stream of criticisms or praises regarding the character of various sportspeople, entertainers, business leaders and politicians from all over the globe, with criticism far out-stripping praise in terms of news content. To a certain degree, it seems as though we are becoming more content to live with the significant character flaws of key leaders in our respective societies, to the point where leadership in certain domains has become morally bankrupt. The impact that leaders have on us and, more importantly, our students is significant in shaping societal culture and that which permeates into our schools.

We have a moral obligation not to just guide students in learning about and developing values but to lead the way, showing our values through our behaviour. We have to challenge what is unacceptable and what is good, human decency. Only together can we make the world a better place.

Most schools have a set of values but I put forward the following question:

To what extent are your school’s values demonstrated everyday through the actions of school leaders, teachers, support staff, parents and students?

The key to providing a successful values-based education, is to make sure that the teaching and learning of the values is explicit.

Once of the reasons that the school in which I work in an International Baccalaureate World School, is that it places values based education at its heart through its learner profile. In implementing IB programmes, schools are required to ensure that the teaching of learner profile attributes are actively planned for, resulting in explicit teaching and learning.

It was great to venture into Kindergarten classes this week to see students learning about what it means to be caring, principled and open-minded and be able to articulate and demonstrate this so well given their age.

Surely, a greater focus on values has to be more important than the subject content that is so often prioritised in our classrooms? But we must not forget to model the way in our own behaviour first.

Originally posted on the Ed Leader blog

Connect with me @richard_bruford