When we think about the meaning of the word education, it is very likely that we associate this word with the way people create their own rules and conventions that unite society, working techniques and knowledge about what the world is about. .
however, there is a type of teaching that goes well beyond this technical training: the values education.
What is values education?
The concept of education in values is very broad, but in general terms it refers to the set of strategies and relationship dynamics aimed at forming citizenship and models of coexistence based on respect, empathy and equality.
This means that it goes far beyond teaching subjects related to the functioning of nature and societies. If these raw materials tell us about the “what” and the “how”, values education tells us the “why”.
Like education in values it is linked to the ethical scale and the values that are used to sort the prioritiesIt also influences how people set the goals they achieve with the knowledge they gain in other subjects.
Topics covered by values education
This form of education has several open fronts on which students (or rather learners) will be tempted to reflect and debate. Here are the main ones:
Equality and inequality
The idea that all human beings are equal it is fundamental to developing inclusive moral systems. However, it is not always easy to know what the practical implications of this moral principle are. In values education, we are invited to reflect on what equality means and the types of behavior that attack it.
The idea that all human beings are equal is not only one of the foundations of democracy, but also makes possible social adequacy and respect for the rules of coexistence.
Although it may seem at first glance, educating in values is not about teaching what the laws and customs that govern society are: someone with strong psychopathic traits would be able to do that as well. Educating in values consists, among other things, in assuming an ethical scale in which commitment to society and empathy they help define the objectives of our actions.
Putting yourself in the other’s shoes improves both cognitively and emotionally the ability to deal with conflict and understand different points of view.
Values education also reflects the breadth of our ethical circles, i.e. collectives that include individuals, groups and elements that need to be protected mostly.
Respect for animals is also an issue discussed here, and can be used to spark reflections on the rights of non-human life forms.
The preservation of the environment
The environment is not only a set of resources, it is also our habitat and it needs joint protection. that’s why the relationship it maintains with nature is fundamental in values education; on the one hand, it encourages people to think about a problem that must be tackled jointly and therefore depends on a civic and common commitment, and on the other hand it helps to develop a sensitivity to problems that go well beyond a self and even beyond the people we know and appreciate.
The detection of special needs
Knowing how to detect personal or collective situations in which you are at a disadvantage is essential to develop sensitivity to certain types of complaints which for us are not too important not to be directly concerned. This is the case for the needs of ethnic minorities or homosexuals who are victims of discrimination by law and treatment.
How to develop education in values?
Values education is not just a specific subject to be taught in schools; it must be transversal and affect the way of doing not only the whole of the teaching staff as a whole, but also the way in which the whole of the educational establishment, the parents and guardians and, in general, the community, act. Being something that is internalized with practice, there is no division between what happens inside the classrooms and what happens outside..
Some strategies for educating in values are as follows:
- Reject forms of discrimination.
- Promote forms of leadership not based on ostentatious power.
- Invite philosophical debate on moral dilemmas.
- Point out behaviors that are harmful to the whole without stigmatizing people.
- Emphasize that people can change.
- Propose joint practical exercises in which decisions must be taken in real time.
- Above all, lead by example.
Values education may seem like a relatively new concept that could only be created in today’s prosperous societies, but the truth is that philosophers like Socrates once championed the idea that one of the fundamental pillars of education is the goal of creating good citizens.
In one way or another, is an education based on philosophy of morals: It helps us reflect on our motivations and whether or not to set goals one way or another, given the impact it will have on ourselves, but also on others.