Thursday, 26 March 2009

thoughts on the nine values

Regular readers will know that Sophie and Bethany are doing correspondence school with Sydney Distance Education Primary School. They will also know they are currently working through a unit on the 9 values for Australian Schooling.

I would like to have enough time and brain space to give this some serious thought, but I haven’t. Some people (who I admire greatly, for whom I praise God and from whom I continue to learn so much) are able to use their blogs as stimulus to help think through things. I seem only to manage to keep asking questions, never getting around to answering them.

However, here are some thoughts on the nine values…

One one hand, they seem like really good values and a great basis for encouraging healthy relationships in the classroom, and in society.

On the other hand, there is something intrinsically worrying about 'values'; they are relative by nature. Values change. I value something and you don't. Indeed, one of the exercises was to put a list of values in order of importance for you, and then to put the same values in order of importance for your parents, assuming they would be different.

I suspect all this has come out of a recognition that different cultures have different definitions of what is good and appropriate behaviour. Australia is full of people from diverse backgrounds yet we are in a position in society where we cannot say that one particular definition is right and another is wrong. Instead all we can say is that this is what we value. The '9 values' seems to be an attempt to say that this is what we think is good and appropriate behaviour for Australian society. Whatever your background, whatever your religion, this is how we expect you to behave. An ethical code based not upon any particular religion or culture but on popular opinion (perhaps upheld as reason). This is what WE value NOW.

I was interested to notice that there was no mention of obedience or submission. This is interesting because society doesn't work unless people submit to the laws of the land. However, none of us likes to, and most of us do our best not to submit or obey unless we are convinced that it is for our own good. Would we wear seat-belts if we weren't convinced it was for our own good? Would we go 40 in that school zone simply because we value obedience? So, even though we couldn't function without it, it is not included in our national values. We don't obey anyone except ourselves.  More interesting would be to imagine how a school would function without obedience....

1 comment:

Erin said...

I was interested to read these, especially as I hadn't ever heard of them before (which is surprising considering I'm in the middle of an education degree).

To me they seem rather 'politicically correct'. I remember reading an article at uni recently which argued that schooling was set up to indoctrinate children with whatever culture is in control at that point.

What happens when someone's own moral and ethical conduct (integrity) goes against what our culture intrinsically agrees is ethical? How then are we to be inclusive? Does tolerance and understanding mean we have to agree with everyones way of doing things (I don't think so, but some sort of judgement has to be made in the classroom)?

In Australia we don't want to be seen to impose our views on others (hense the understanding, tolerance, freedom values) but for a society to run cohesively some sort of value judgement must be in use.

I may just be confusing the issue! I've only really added to your questions :).