Given that pupils have to learn a huge amount, it can be easy to forget about their emotional wellbeing. The Human Values Foundation’s Rosemary Dewan discusses the importance of this matter.
What subject is dynamic, cross-curricular, student-centric and stimulates children and young people? This is a subject constantly arousing their curiosity, thereby enabling teachers to capitalise on pupils’ eagerness to learn, and affording plenty of practical opportunities for schools to work collaboratively with parents, carers and professionals who are involved in guiding and mentoring children. The answer is values education.
Schools in England are relatively autonomous, however many people I speak to in the education sphere say that a ‘middle tier’ is helpful to support schools, and lots of academics and educational organisations, for example ADCS, Prichard and Crossley-Holland, say something similar.
There is no best organisational form of the middle tier. It is a mix of academy chains, local authorities (LAs), school advisors and many other people and organisations. Traditionally LAs have had a kind of monopoly on the school improvement services. However, over time, funding was directed toward schools rather than LAs, LA departments have undergone radical restructuring and new bodies with similar responsibilities have come to the forefront, for example academy chains.
Learning is engaging when children and young people are stimulated and excited by it and see the relevance of it. They are constantly making decisions and it’s helpful for them to begin to understand and become aware of the drivers for their choices. Take for a moment, what it was that made you decide to get out of bed this morning! You will probably soon find that there were some key factors – things that you personally value and consider important. So, how can we help young citizens enjoy making connections while they are learning so that they can develop a consistent approach to their thinking, decision-making, choices and behaviour – and ultimately feel happy and achieve their full potential?
Young people growing up in today’s world are witnessing how individuals’ choices and actions can rapidly be broadcast via social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
It’s all the more important therefore that learning to make informed, principled, well considered decisions is an integral part of their education so that each of them can leave school with their reputation intact, confident of doing well, with a life-long learning mentality that enables them to maximise their abilities and with the desire to be responsible citizens, capable of making the world a better place.
Children and young people enjoy exploring the role of values in their daily lives because of the excitement as they begin to see more relevance in what they are learning. This awakening can help them experience the benefits of a positive mindset and how working on personal qualities, including resilience and patience, contributes to a greater likelihood of achieving their dreams and goals.
Many of us are probably not consciously aware of the degree to which we are driven by what we treasure and feel is important – in short, what we value. However, being more mindful of these influences is empowering
To help children and young people strive to be the best that they can be, they need to start with a vision of themselves.
Here is a simple framework that provides a brief and regular focus on personal progress using the VALUES letters as prompts. It helps to make each day as meaningful and productive as possible. During the course of a week the exercise captures the imagination of participants, allowing their ideas to shape their views of life and to persue high and lasting goals, both in the week ahead and in the longer term.
Keeping a journal helps with the daily discipline and enables children and young people to look back with pride on what they have accomplished.
How children and young people feel about themselves has a significant bearing on every aspect of their lives. The more they feel valued, the more likely they are to enjoy their schooldays and be able to succeed in reaching the highest level of their personal achievement.
Schools are expected to offer a stimulating, broad, balanced, relevant and, when appropriate, differentiated curriculum and have high expectations for every single one of their children so that they can achieve success and ultimately, as many of them as possible, have real options open to them when it comes to choosing pathways into their adult lives.
Please imagine the scene: two proud Year 2 pupils showing me Oatlands Infant School in Surrey. Head teacher, Pat Beechy had asked them to talk to me about what the school was doing to show its values. I was taken to the entrance hall to look at a fabulous display depicting the school's values as part of a beautiful tree. I asked them to explain to me what values are and was told by Sam, “Values help us to be happy and keep you out of trouble.” Sophie added, “They help you throughout your life…when you are angry they help you to come into a better mood.” I asked her which value she would think about if she felt angry and after a moment’s reflection she said, “Um…Peace!“
Such a discussion with children is powerful evidence as to why, increasingly, teachers and schools are teaching and modeling positive human values such as respect, trust, tolerance and responsibility.
Andy Mouncey uses his experience as a professional sports coach and father of two young boys to explore the relationship between sport, endurance and how this impacts us as we grow older.
Children, young people and endurance – yeah, that ole chestnut: How young and how far is enough? How to judge it? What’s the evidence? And what are the implications for later life?
This is not a review of the pile of scientific literature out there, not least because I suspect plenty of people have been there, done that. This is an evidence-based piece though, it’s just that the evidence in question is my experience as a parent to two small boys and as a professional coach who has worked with children and young people for the last 25 years.
The Human Values Foundation explores how values literacy is such a rewarding curriculum ingredient.
As teachers in England continue to plan for the implementation of their new, inspiring and expansive curricula to take effect from September 2014, now could be an appropriate time to consider a curriculum ingredient found to have widespread, rewarding impacts on children, young people, teachers and other adults making up school communities, along with parents and carers.
A school’s curriculum is designed to meet the various needs of its pupils and, through different, tailored, appropriate, formal learning pathways and informal opportunities, empower them to reach their full potential and prepare them for life. It is recognised that modern curricula need to be more open and flexible than in the past. The challenge is to craft them so as to raise aspirations, deliver tangible improvements in teaching and learning, and lay the foundations to enable learners to successfully manage whatever the future may bring and its dynamic effects on all aspects of their daily living.
What can help children and young people develop consistency in their thinking, decision-making and behaviour, especially when they consider and then try to put into practice the range of important topics that are raised during Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, Citizenship lessons and in connection with their Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development?
A simple answer – simultaneously learning to understand and apply VALUES in everyday life, because these are principles that establish standards, act as reference points and empower.
It means coaching children and young people, as an integral part of the school curriculum, so that, in conjunction with their parents and carers at home, they are constantly learning to identify values that are important to: