Value is defined as the relative worth, importance, or usefulness of a person or thing. Values are the beliefs, standards, principles, or ideas of a person or persons.
Children should learn at a very early age that they must share everything, play fair, don’t hit people, and don’t take things that aren’t theirs. As these students enter kindergarten, those behaviors are enforced over and over again.
The real cause for many of today’s social problems is a lack of shared values. We would not have laws, corruption, violence, crime, child neglect, and many other maladies, if we had a true sense of community. We can’t have a sense of community except by having a sense of shared values.
Many societies are held together by religion which provides a built in set of ethical values. Our country made the wise decision to allow freedom of religion as a part of the laws by which we are governed. This precluded a ready-made set of common values. Merely sustaining life required hard work and dependence on the support of the community. Apart from patriotism, it was the ethic or truly valuing work that became a shared value. In finding ways to praise an individual, ‘hard working‘ was the highest accolade. There are some individuals who still associate hard work with success.
As the international role of our country became more secure and as our lives were make easier by applied technology, we became sufficiently affluent and our belief in both patriotism and the work ethic diminished. Our lack of shared values started be become painfully obvious. Instead of becoming a united society we began to divide ourselves into our own cultural setting. There was a distinct difference in each ethnic group and mixing was almost inevitable.
Today, one of the few values we share is a belief in education. Even in our increasingly diverse society, almost all of us value learning and education. Even with these thoughts the we ask ourselves, ‘Is there equity in education?‘; ‘To what extent is there equality in education?‘; and ‘Shouldn’t education be the tool that instills values in our society?‘ Unfortunately, we have come to accept the model of ‘value free‘ educational would assert that such education is ‘valueless‘. The noted educator Robert Maynard Hutchins wrote that any system of education which is without values is a contradiction in terms, a system that seeks bad values is bad. A system that denies the existence of values denies the possibility of education.
Certainly education can teach us to do things. Just as technology destroyed our common work ethic, technology and other things we learn are only as good as what they produce or the values they produce. What ever our activities, whatever we learn to do we generate outcomes. It is critically important that those outcomes serve the common good of society. They must support our shared values. Unfortunately, we don’t know what those values are. It appears that we seem unwilling to work together to formulate common values.
I believe there is one value that should be cherished by every one of us as the cornerstone for an ethically based society. That value is honesty. How can we have a society, a human institution, an educational system this is not based on personal honesty? With honest, we can accomplish much. We can truly know ourselves to find out our strengths and our weaknesses. We should capitalize on our strengths and correct our weaknesses. We should also do the same for those around us because trust, cooperation, team work, and leadership cannot exist without honesty.
We must remember that without honesty, we can do little to correct our own failure or those of others. Children will emulate what they see and hear. If a family has good morals and values, chances are great that these values will be passed onto their children. Children from violent families have been shown to exhibit a variety of internal and external behavior problems. We as educators must do all that we can to ensure that these students change their behavior so as to pass a positive or more appropriate behavior down to the next generation.