Making Values Education a Practical Reality

Step One

A first step you may wish to do while considering the implementation of Living Values Education is inviting interested teachers and principals, or the leadership team of the organization, to reflect on and discuss the purpose of education. What values do you feel would benefit the students or group of people with whom you work?

What values do you feel are needed in society and the world? What values would you like to part of the culture of your school or organization?

Perhaps discuss the vision statement of the LVE Approach. Or, share that education has always been the primary method of change for society. What change would you they like to see in your community and the world? Do you agree that the way to peace is peace? What would a culture of peace, respect, love, tolerance/acceptance of all, and honesty create in your community? Perhaps define together the culture or ethos you would to create.

“At the core of values education lies the establishment of an agreed set of principles, deeply held convictions, that underpin all aspects of a school’s life and work” (Hawkes).

Step Two:

Engage yourself and your entire faculty/all the adults in your community in a LVE Educator/Facilitator Workshop, to explore the kind of values-based atmosphere you would like to create, learn about skills to do such, and think about how you can make values an important, integral part of your school culture and curriculum. Plan to engage in an ongoing dialogue about values, as you make your organization one which thinks about values when making decisions about, for and with, students and teachers.

Step Three:

Find time slots to integrate LVE Activities. It is hoped that the activities in this resource generate further ideas from teachers in all subject areas, for all educators within the school can contribute to the exploration of values. Values education is most effective when the entire school community is engaged and values are integrated throughout the curriculum.

The staff of each educational community implementing LVE will need to decide how, when and by whom the LVE lessons will be taught. This is more easily done in primary schools, and with middle schools that have ample homeroom periods or dedicated periods for social skills development, citizenship, civil leadership, moral education, social responsibility or ethics. Schools without such time slots, are advised to creatively find a place to integrate two core lessons a week, at least for the first several months. For example, as many of the activities for peace and respect contain discussion and writing activities, they could be integrated and/or done during literature or language classes. The lessons in the honesty unit could be done in history classes. The cooperation lessons could be done by physical education teachers.

Two or three lessons a week, suitably adapted to the age and background of students, are highly recommended during the first four months of LVE in order to obtain student “buy-in.” This may not be possible for all educators to do, especially when only one teacher or a few teachers are implementing LVE within a school. Do not be concerned if you are the only educator doing values education. Many educators implementing LVE are in a similar situation. They have found that their way of being, and their passion for values, creates the needed “buy-in.”

Implementation Details

LVE’s sixteen values units are designed to allow you to easily plan values education at your site by focusing on one value a month during the school year. Book 1 includes eight values units for the first year of implementation and Book 2 includes another eight values units for implementation during the second year. A “value of focus” each month for the entire school facilitates planning for special subject areas, assemblies and special projects.

The universal values explored in all three books are peace, respect, love and caring, tolerance, honesty, happiness, responsibility, simplicity and caring for the Earth and Her Oceans, cooperation, humility, compassion, freedom and unity. The value unit exploring freedom for children ages three to seven is titled “Brave and Gentle”. Another unit is titled “Another Value We Love”. This offers activities on a few values and an invitation to educators to explore a value they feel is needed locally or nationally. The values units include many related values such as kindness, fairness, determination, integrity, appreciation, diversity, human rights, valuing education, trust, gratitude, inclusion, equality and social justice.

There are two values units on both peace and respect as these values are so important to young people and present the opportunity to help them build important intrapersonal and interpersonal social and emotional skills. It is recommended that educators begin with the Peace I and Respect I values units in Book 1 during the first year of implementation and Peace II and Respect II values units in Book 2 during the second year, rotating through eight values each year.

This book contains at least three values activities for each week. Facilitating at least two values activities a week is highly recommended to create student “buy in”. Young people also benefit by relaxation/focusing times several times a week, or daily.

If a school is planning to begin values education with only two grades in a school, it is recommended that you start with the older students/higher grade levels. It is much healthier for younger students to “catch” values from older students who are benefiting from values education, than to have younger students who are into values education being bullied by older students who are not in the program. However, school-wide implementation is more effective and beneficial for all.

Assemblies and Songs

When the entire educational community is exploring the same value at the same time, assemblies are an excellent way to sustain the enthusiasm. Different classes or various clubs can take turns presenting values creatively at assemblies through drama, music, art, poetry, etc. Allow them to share their concerns about values and anti-values, and the service-learning projects with which they become involved.

Please begin with the Peace Unit!

Beginning each school year with a Peace Unit is always recommended. Young people are deeply concerned about peace — even those who may be externally aggressive. At the beginning of the unit, facilitators ask them to imagine a peaceful world. This allows them to look inside themselves and explore what they would like their world to be like. After a visualization, they are asked to express their ideas in words and artistically. What they create is always beautiful. The opportunity to explore what they would like in the world creates interest … and a bit of needed hope for the cynical or marginalized youth.

While young children are then engaged in activities with stories and the making and playing with peace puppets, older students are led in mind mapping peace and violence. Lessons with relaxation/focusing exercises and art allow students a chance to explore peace at a personal level before a series of conflict resolution activities are begun. Discussions in those lessons help build understanding of others and allow them to further their communication skills.

Throughout each values unit, reflection points educate in a universal manner, that is, in a manner which models respect for all. Usually within two months, with just two or three lessons a week, students are doing conflict resolution successfully. Teachers report that students find the peace unit relevant; they note reduced resistance in students often considered unmotivated.

Is there a recommended order of values units?

We suggest beginning with the Peace I and Respect I Units as they build intrapersonal and interpersonal social and emotional skills in a sequential manner. Conflict resolution and Bullying No More lessons begin in the Peace I unit and are revisited in the Respect I Unit. Mind mapping peace and conflict, relaxation/focusing exercises and conflict resolution skills developed during the Peace I and Respect I lessons are important building blocks in creating a values-based atmosphere. If students are able to solve their own conflicts, peacefully and respectfully, there is much more time for teaching.

You may wish to do further values units in the order presented in the book, or you may wish to decide a different sequence depending on perceived needs. The Love Unit continues to reinforce communication and conflict resolution skills. For example, in the Love Unit, students are asked, “What was the starting point of the conflict? How will a loving attitude change the situation?” The Tolerance Unit invites appreciating each other and other cultures.

The Honesty Unit

The Honesty Unit is also important, especially as it is helpful for older students to begin to comprehend the why’s and how’s of corruption. Young adults are asked to engage in activities about social justice in several of the values. Each one of the values units are designed to build personal skills as well as understanding of the value and the effects of the anti-value on the self, others and the community.

If you are implementing LVE independently, it may be easier to focus on the values that fit best into your curriculum. A bit of reflection about values or an interesting discussion here and there, can help students become more engaged — and see the difference values make.

Do I need to do every activity?

No. While it is good to include a variety of values activities, educators may choose not to do some lessons or may wish to substitute material. In many of the lessons you will find scripted questions and content. This has been provided as many educators have requested such specificity. Please feel free to adapt the questions to your own personal style, the needs of the students, the culture, and your particular setting.