Sunday 24 February 2008

Key Principle of Values Education

"Teaching values, recently a political theme, can’t be done. So, while the candidate for office declares, 'We need to teach our kids family values!' the fact is that our children form their own values. Most often, they have very good values. What they need to learn is how to use their true values as a basis for making decisions. Let’s adjust our political candidate’s talking point to say, 'We need to teach our kids how to organize their lives around their own values!' While this doesn’t sound as good on the stump, and our candidate may lose the election by a landslide, at least our politician was honest." [Robert Fritz]

The AVI (A Values Inventory) was designed to help people identify their values. It's false to assume most people know what their values are. In reality, most people are living the values of other's. Only when we undertake a conscious process taking an inventory of our values, identifying why these values are important to us, then committing to those we choose to commit to, are we able to live our own values.


  1. As a Values Educator in the Philippines,one of the concern that I'd been raised up concerning the teaching of Values Education is the popular use of Values Clarification model. Few teachers are not aware that using this approach he or she was promoting a moral relativism in the classroom.

    It uses ethical ambiguities to encourage agnosticism about universal moral rules. By posing extremely difficult problems to children untutored in ethical decision-making, Values Clarification destroys the confidence in moral absolutes.

    Following the methodology of humanistic psychology, classrooms become centers of self-examination in which the peer group shapes one's morals. Popular tools are questionnaires that elicit a student's opinion on a certain moral situation, and discussions in which teachers – and often students – are facilitators or group therapists, not purveyors of absolute values.

    The foundational assumption of Values Clarification is that “it does not teach a particular set of values. There is no sermonizing or moralizing. The goal is to involved the students in practical experiences, making them aware of their own feelings, their own ideas, their own beliefs, so that the choices and decisions they make are conscious and deliberate, based on their own value system.”

    My truth may not be your truth. My code of behavior may not be square with yours. What all this means is that relativistic mind-set now appears to permeate in our society and has become institutionalized in our education system through this form of operating instruction.

    Here is an Example where personal relativism turns into arbitrary authority …

    Teacher: So some of you think it is best to be honest on tests, is that right ? (some heads nod affirmatively.) And some of you think dishonesty is all right ? (A few hesitant and slight nods.) And I guess some of you are not certain . (heads nod.)…

    Casey: Does that mean that we can decide for ourselves whether we should be honest on tests here ?

    Teacher: No, that means that you can decide on the value. I personally value honesty; and although you may choose to be dishonest, I shall insist that we be honest on our tests here. In other areas of your life, you may have more freedom to be dishonest, but one can’t do anything any time, and in this class I shall expect honesty on tests.

    Philosopher Christina Hoff Sommer exposes the moral confusion of values clarification in another similar story she relates :

    “One of my favorite anecdotes concerns a teacher in Newton, Massachusetts who had attended numerous values clarification work-shops and was assiduously applying its techniques in her class. The day came when her class of sixth graders announced that they valued cheating and wanted to be free to do it on their test. The teacher was very uncomfortable. Her solution? She told the children that since it was her class, and since she was opposed to cheating, they were not free to cheat. “In my class you must be honest, for I value honesty. In other areas of your life you may be free to cheat.”
    (Christina Hoff Sommer, Teaching Virtues, rep. in AFA Journal, Jan. 1992) p. 15

    Values Clarification usually espouses personal relativism: what is good or bad is so only for a given person.In particular, Values Clarification represents a direct attack on traditional religious morality.

  2. I agree re values clarification.

    We have a two part approach to values education:

    (1) We use values as a means to help people explore the worldview they have created and to question it's validity. [We each have our own worldview which is self-created & we value what we value because of how we see the world.]

    (2) We focus then on how people live the values which are important to them. As we say, "Values motivate, ethics and morals constrain. Because we live in a society we cannot live values any way we want--it's vital that we consider the consequences of our actions."