You would assume that parents, teachers, educators, and anyone involved with children’s development and learning would have their actions and intentions firmly based in values.
However, many professionals are under pressure. And value led approaches are often sidelined in the frenetic rush to keep on top of outcomes and results at the expense of more rounded developmental approaches to education and learning.
So perhaps it’s time to take a fresh look at how we might redress the balance.
What are values anyway? Values are the principles that govern standards of behaviour. Honesty might be one. Kindness is another. Respect probably the most important of all as it is the foundation of so many other values.
So what is value led learning? It is simply how everyday learning methods, across all curricula and settings wherever the learning is taking place, prioritise the approach rather than the content or outcome, although this might be in a way that is almost unnoticeable. A crude example might be to say that rather than a learner being coerced into an activity – because adults say so – the learning is approached through explanation, stimulation and mutual agreement. Much easier to do in a home education setting than a class one perhaps!
There’s one view on the subject here which helps explain.
How do values aid children’s development? What this kind of mutually respectful approach does is build valuable skills, especially those which help learners transfer their learning to the real world. For it doesn’t matter how much a child knows, or how many outcomes a young person achieves, they need certain personable skills to be able to put them to use. Skills like thinking and reasoning and the ability to converse and express ideas – useful for problem solving or at interviews perhaps. Skills like self-motivation for further study and attainment. Skills of care, responsibility and empathy to help them forge worthwhile and useful relationships. Keeping values at the forefront of the learning approach helps young people to build their own behaviours and strengths of character – vital for standing out in the competition.
How might we imbue values into everyday learning? As it suggests in the article; the most influential impact on young people is the behaviour of the adults around them. Demonstration speaks far louder than words. So we need to demonstrate respect, kindness, empathy, care, tolerance, patience – to name a few – as we help young people learn. And it’s vital to find ways to encourage them to engage with activities which reflect those values. It may sometimes happens we lose our patience, but we can apologise and explain this is not acceptable or our ‘norm’. It’s important to offer explanations and reasons for what we ask of our learners – this is part of respect. Our behaviour needs discussing as much as theirs.
As parents, teachers and facilitators we should strive to prioritise values throughout all learning approaches as this will influence the behaviour and the values of the following generations. Our behaviour in the way we facilitate education and learning is as important as the outcomes and results.