Teaching Values: Let's End Our Misguided Approach
"Schools and teachers don't get to choose whether they teach values. Schools and teachers are always affecting values by, for example, what they decide to praise and punish, how fairly they balance different students' needs, how they define students' obligations to each other. The question isn't whether schools teach values, it's whether they choose to be deliberate about it."
Richard Weissbourd, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Kennedy School of Government
Children grow up in families, and also in schools. Their experiences in schools help shape the adults they will become and the world they will build. As a nation, what can be more important to us than schools that support the healthy development of our young people? Why then, do so many of our schools still look and feel impersonal, industrial, and disconnected?
In the name of their secular and economic tradition, our schools have a hands-off orientation to values. Morals, beliefs, and rites of passage happen at home. Proofs, pronouns, and bubble sheets happen at school. Therein lies the problem: We seem to believe that it is possible to teach young people without imparting values. We pretend that we can ask young people to check their identities at the school door to be "students" in their classrooms. But we cannot. And while many teachers yearn to nurture their students' emerging values, our...
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