Putting values at the centre of the system
As most would acknowledge, our education system today emphasises the need to be job-orientated and is orientated to produce what may be called, better "human doings" rather than better human beings.
Values education is the missing dimension of our modern system of schooling. Therefore, the core values of life should be integrated into all aspects of the curriculum. This does not require yet another bolt-on to the present national curriculum but a fundamental understanding by all teachers that their teaching can never be value-free. The lack of explicit emphasis in schools on core values has contributed to the present situation of so many people feeling failures when it comes to developing good relationships with others.
If we are to address this overwhelming need, then we must see the fundamental role of education as being to help people to build positive attitudes so that moral, spiritual, emotional and behavioural aspects of the human personality can develop to their full potential. Education would then enlighten and motivate people to achieve excellence and happiness in life and build a happy and positive society.
Values education is not specific to any particular culture or religion but transcends all backgrounds. It should consist of enabling people to consider universal values in three broad categories, namely, human values, moral values and spiritual values. Such an emphasis would enable the individual to develop the capacity for greater self-awareness, implying enhanced self-respect and self-esteem. When awareness is not thoughtfully internalised, or when it is misdirected, self-respect manifests negatively as pride or ego. Thus, through values education the "consciousness" is expanded enabling the individual to have greater control of his or her life and to influence the world for good.
For staffrooms to ignore the central dimension of values education, when considering whole curriculum planning, is to avoid the very heart of what we should be about.
NEIL HAWKES Headteacher West Kidlington Primary School Oxon