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The theme/topic of this essay is values and the role of stakeholders to deliver the concept of values. Values, Identity and intercultural learning module have had a great impact on my thinking process in my final year. It allowed me to express and reflect on topics and issues that may arise in my future practices.
The following questions aided my growth in relation to this topic. Such as; are values something that can be taught? Why should they be/ why shouldn’t they be? Is an educational setting the correct environment to teach values? Which values in particular are the ones schools should focus on? And most importantly who should take responsibility for teaching these values; teachers, parents, or individual self-development? ‘Values are generally long-term standards or principles that are used to judge the worth of an idea or action. They provide the criteria by which we decide whether something is good or bad, right or wrong.’
The role a stakeholder has on teaching values can vary from school and the teacher themselves. ‘In education, the term stakeholder typically refers to anyone who is invested in the welfare and success of a school and its students, including administrators, teachers, staff members, students, parents, families, community members, local business leaders, and elected officials such as school board members, city councilors, and state representatives.’ These are some examples of what exactly a stakeholders may be considered as. Throughout researching the topic of values I found the impact educators have on students to be quite astonishing. Stakeholders in education are suggested to be role models (to an extent). Stakeholder’s values can be influential to student’s values. This aspect in particular really opened my mind into comprehending how impressionable young students are.
Primary school students spend approximately spend 23.5 hours per week within a classroom with his/her teacher. Good teacher-student relationships have a big impact on a student’s views on values. Rita Pierson; a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, ‘They don’t pay me to like the kids.’ Her response: ‘Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level. If the mindset of an educator is poor, the student will always reflect the common aura. The role of the teacher certainly implies the power to influence students, and since values are inherent in teaching, it seems unlikely that students will be able to avoid the influence of teachers’ values completely, even if teachers do not see it as part of their role to set a moral example.
If values are a strong part of a schools policy and ethos a teacher therefore as a strong role to represent these values. Whereas some schools may opt for a more laid back approach and that values may be something a student learns from at home, or own self development. The mission statement within a school is the ethos (nature) and the standard they wish to meet. Some values are often mentioned within the mission statement for example ‘Our mission is to develop young men with active and creative minds, a sense of understanding and compassion for others, and the courage to act on their beliefs. We stress the total development of each child: spiritual, moral, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical.’
Although educators bring their values into their teaching practice, they do not replicate what are society’s values. Each individual has the right to has his/her own values and how s/he likes to express them. There is a big question mark surrounding who should have an opinion on what values should be thought. Suggestions include; Parents, the Government and of course The Teaching council. The Irish educational system itself has values and goals they wish to meet. Throughout my research I came to the conclusion to gain a more reformed outlook would include the influence of all parties to finalize what values are most important that should be taught. ‘In order to thrive, the school cannot uphold values which diverge significantly from those of the community it serves’. While considering values are a diverse topic; all influences and opinions enable a more well-rounded method for the development in the way we teach today’s society values.
The role of education in respect to values can be found throughout all parts of the Irish culture. Children, especially during adolescence – ‘their most vulnerable and impressionable age – are in need of role models, and take them from all areas that are close at hand, whether mass media, parents and family, or their teachers.’ Values are hidden throughout Ireland’s curriculum within certain subjects like PE (Physical education) and religion. Simple values such as sharing is taught from early stages in life. Teaching values within a classroom is an ideal environment because the vast variety of the classroom will grasp the same concept all at once. The development as a future educator that the topic of values has brought me is a combination of all the points I have mentioned.
An educator’s values can be under investigation whether the teacher knows this or not. Students seek this information to gain access into a teacher’s personal life. Certain values such as marriage, children, religion, and moral beliefs can often be questioned within a classroom. It is up to the school’s ethos and educator on how these questions and situations are handled. The most common practice is to change the subject or a vague answer. ‘Practice what you preach’ is a terminology all educators put into action surrounding the topic of values. `Set a good example to the pupils they teach, through their presentation and their personal and professional conduct’. Children’s values will be in influenced, consciously or otherwise, by the example set by their teachers in their relationships, attitudes and teaching styles.
As it is a choice to have and practice values some obstacles may arise. In the 21st century Ireland the question of a student asking about a teacher’s own beliefs and values is a common thread that often arises in a classroom. Having a diverse classroom with the aspect of religious values can be quite difficult for a teacher to express certain opinions. Take for instance any religious tragedies that have happened in recent times, educators must always be aware of how s/he speaks regarding a topic as it might be considered disrespectful to a student’s religion, or family’s belief’s outside of the classroom.
A valued educational system is a well-rounded curriculum which aims to meet and satisfy all participants who go through an education.. Whole school approach Schools apply their values education priorities to their overall curriculum provision, their structures and policies, their procedures and rules, their funding priorities, their decision-making arrangements, their disciplinary procedures, their community relations and their welfare / pastoral care approaches. Values aim to strengthen a moral climate within a school. Critical thinking allows the ability of reflection to develop, on values and the meaning of analyzing and to conduct his/her own opinions. And finally moral development focuses on the cognitive progression of the skills to reflect and learn from his or her own values and of course others. During the discovery of what values are important and what ones are not can be a difficult time for someone, this feeling is regarded as cognitive dissonance.
The aims and objectives of teaching values is to develop a moral understanding, socialization, citizenship, intercultural respect among being part of society. An educator can teach values within the subjects of the curriculum that are hidden. Value education seeks to strengthen the transfer of values in education; transfer by means of the curriculum and the moral climate in the school. ‘Critical thinking aims to develop a reflection on values and a value development by means of analyzing and comparing opinions. Moral development concentrates on the stages of cognitive development for learning values and the skills to reflect on values.’
The subject of English; aids the development to construct a response whether it’s personal or simply expressional of feelings. Religion; Focuses solely on the variety of religions or a specific one (depending on primary or secondary school). Therefore broadens a student’s knowledge of the difference of cultures and values which are factors in these religions. P.E (physical education) focuses on the partnership between a team with fairness and inclusiveness. Physical activities where teams are created aims to include all members and to feel included which focuses on fairness and a sense of responsibility- values.
Open discussions within a classroom allows students to express themselves where their own values and beliefs can be displayed. Both the formal and the hidden curriculum need to be managed and delivered in a way that reflects the varieties of social practice in our society, the teacher often are regarded a symbol of values in a school. Demonstrating why teaching is a value conscious occupation.
Looking back at what values are to me, and the impact values have in my own life, I can definitely see the importance in which they hold in a person’s character. When I think about values I am more open minded and have gained a broader perspective when thinking about anyone else’s values. I now feel the need to critique my thoughts and opinions with the mind-set of others. I believe this approach will definitely help me in my teaching future as it is a stepping stone for a more equal and diverse classroom.
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