Values education is a broad, extensive, and ill-defined concept. Responsibility for values education doesn’t just fall to professors and teachers. Parents, and society in general, also have to be involved. However, we tend not to invest in values education as we should. Instead, it sits on the back burner while we worry about memorizing facts and passing classes.
There’s something much more important than getting 90% on an exam. Getting good grades at the end of a semester shouldn’t be the ultimate goal. Teaching respect, responsibility, community, and social awareness is far more crucial. Unfortunately, few people look to values education as a way to transform our society.
Values education is indispensable
Why do we see so many cases of high school bullying? When did everything get twisted around so that parents have no authority over their children? Why don’t young people care about community? The reason is obvious. We aren’t giving values education the importance that it deserves.
The reason for that might be that this kind of education implies a certain effort. More than anything, it requires time. That is something many parents and educators aren’t willing to offer to our youth. Maybe we’ve become too selfish. Or maybe we don’t care about our children’s future.
“Educating about equality and respect is educating against violence.”
Sometimes we believe we’re teaching our children values. Don’t we tell them what to do and what not to do? Don’t we set limits and boundaries for them? It’s definitely possible that we are. But, are we leading by example? It’s useless to tell a child to throw papers in the trash if you throw them on the floor later. Nor is it very encouraging to tell a child to get along with his sister when you hold a grudge against your own.
Leading by example is the most valuable way to teach. We communicate the most important values through our words and our actions. We can’t expect our children to treat others like equals if we don’t do it first.
So, values education is essential and necessary. Not just for children and youth, but for adults as well. It’s so important because it gives us the chance to re-learn things that we didn’t learn in the best way the first time.
The most important aspects of values education
We need more than just a class that talks about values education. We need values education to be included in every subject. Just like it would be great for this type of education to be included in ever home and in society in general. So what exactly are the pillars of values education?
- Foster critical thinking about consumerism and habits of consumption (among others).
- Highlight equal opportunities for all, regardless of race, culture, sex, nationality, or religion.
- Teach about caring for the environment, not harming it, and how to enjoy it.
- Communicate tolerance of other’s sexuality.
- Foster responsible consumption and teach how to use your conscience as your guide for making decisions.
These are some of the things that values education tries to instill in students. The above list gives you an idea of the objectives and goals of values education. The big question then is why don’t we see values education in the classroom or in people’s homes? Maybe because, in the classroom, the syllabus and schedule reign supreme. At home, perhaps because you can’t teach someone something that you never learned.
“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.”
– William S. Burroughs –
To discover and know what is values education opens up doors. It gives us a range of possibilities to delve deeper into the subject and share it with other young people.
We often complain about people who don’t respect the environment. Those people who burn large swaths of green and fertile land during summer. Or we complain about racism or intolerance of the different sexual orientations people express these days. Complaining, however, changes nothing. It’s useless.
The best approach is to put values education high on the priority list. Because, after all, we’re shaping individuals and helping them grow. How much they know, or what they know, isn’t the only important thing. Being a good person is also important. That being said, it’s also important to be aware that this kind of education is everyone’s responsibility.