3 July 2008 09:02 AM

Values continued...

by Dr. Rick
The school system where I taught, Baltimore County, Maryland, tackled the issue of values in the 1980s and, after a lengthy and debated process that included diverse populations, recognized a common core of basic human values in a pluralistic society. These included things like compassion, courtesy, freedom of thought and action, honesty, human worth and dignity, integrity, justice, knowledge, reasoned argument, respect for others’ rights, responsibility, self-respect, tolerance, and truth. No sermons about religion or “morals” – these values were simply behaviors that our community mostly agreed on. Teachers and students knew it was okay to discuss these values in the context of their lessons; parents knew their opinions were welcome, too.

The issue is still relevant. One of my favorite educational organizations, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (www.ascd.org), has information about character education, including resources for teachers and parents.

So I’d be interested in knowing what “role models” kids today are emulating? (I had promised myself not to use that phrase, but, alas there it is.) Do any of them come from literature? Video games? Celebrities? Characters from television dramas, comedies, or (shudder) reality shows? Actual acquaintances, friends, family, teachers, clergy, coaches, neighbors? Politics, do I dare ask?

I’d also be interested in just what values kids are learning and accepting? What do they admire, what principles guide their behaviors?

I recognize, unlike Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, that the world changes, that people change, but I also like to think that there are some things that are so universal, so essential, that they remain with us. They may look different in their outward appearances, but their fundamental worth remains strong. Family comes to mind. Friendships, too.

What do you think?




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