Did schools espouse and promote their values 30 years ago? I don’t think many did.
And so, does this mean they weren’t places where important character traits such as respect, honesty, responsibility and kindness were fostered? Well, I actually think many of us thoroughly developed habits of living such as these at school.
So, what were we seeking to achieve when we formalised these concepts? What was missing when we commenced days of consultation arguing the difference between acceptance and tolerance? What was actually better about painting our five carefully chosen and voted for values on murals and on plastering them across letterheads?
And did our students become more respectful, honest, responsible and kind for the poster they made or the short play they performed about the value of the week?
These are actually important questions for Teachers and School Leaders to ponder … and all you really need to do right now is ponder them. You don’t need answers and you needn’t despair all the work that’s been done committing to these corporately inspired aspirations. Just ponder.
If your school has spent hours, days and budget on developing values, you likely did no genuine harm at all. So breathe a sigh of relief, ok.
But know this – the real work of values installation in students lies in exactly what schools were doing 30 years ago. It wasn’t planned or formalised. It wasn’t explicitly taught or made a matrix of.
The key to respect building is a staff who behaves respectfully. The key to honesty is a staff that tells the truth and can admit fault. The key to learning responsibility is being afforded the chance to take it. And the key to kindness is adult role models who are unwaveringly kind in all that they say and do.
If your values really matter, they aren’t on a brochure. They are behavioural trademarks of you and your staff.
So, one more question for you. Are they?
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS We’ve added some brief explanatory videos to the webpages for each of the workshops that I’m running in June/July in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide. Check them out at my Events Webpage. Would really love to meet some folk from your schools at these.
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