2 July 2008 08:52 AM

Values continued...

by Dr. Rick
A bloviator on the radio the other day said that schools shouldn’t even try to “teach values” to children. That’s the parents’ job, he said.

True enough. I might add it’s the job of other “institutions,” as well, say, the occasional visit to church, synagogue, or mosque; participation in kid organizations; neighborhood experiences, and so on. Parents direct all these things, but some parents do a better job of it than others.

Parents play a dominant role, but school is right up there, whether we like it or not. As a high school English teacher, I wouldn’t know how to teach literature without recognizing characters’ values. This may be somewhat of a simplification, but how can you teach Macbeth without acknowledging horrible ambition; Hamlet without paralyzing indecision; Romeo and Juliet without witless rivalry? How can you teach The Catcher in the Rye without admitting an aversion to change and fear of growing up; To Kill a Mockingbird without a condemnation of unremitting prejudice; Lord of the Flies without wondering how thin the veneer of “civility”; Huckelberry Finn without seeing hypocrisy however humorously depicted? What about biographies and autobiographies – what better way to learn about the values of famous historical figures than from their life stories?

If I had been a history teacher, how would I have taught the Civil War – or any war for that matter – without a debate, about the conflict of values? How to learn about the founding of our own country? How to discuss current events?

It seems to me when you put kids and adults together, there are going to be values taught and learned - sometimes in both directions. Kids watch adults all the time and they’re learning from what we say and what we do. Yes, we teach values in school – we can’t help it.

While you consider those ideas, I’ll finish up with my final thoughts later this week…




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