Monday, July 25, 2016

Schooling and Values-Based Learning Experiences

One of the most interesting, and challenging, courses I ever took in college was called Ethics and Society.  The class required that I engage in discourse around deep moral issues facing society, while evaluating my beliefs, my truth about right and wrong, what is absolute versus what is relative, etc.  To be honest, I wasn’t ready for such depth and rigor.  My K - 12 experience had not prepared me to deal with such complex issues.  The curriculum and assessments I took were focused on preparing me to succeed on the 3 Rs, along with the grade level standards of the time.. 

Unfortunately, many educators and non-educators alike believe that schools and classrooms are failing to properly equip students with the skills to handle complex moral issues. Paul Bardwell suggests that “…while school mission statements often reveal a goal of preparing students for a mix of lifelong success, citizenship, college, and careers, the reality is that addressing content standards and test preparation continues to dominate countless schools’ operations and focus.”

Given the nature of schooling, the challenge continues to be the lack of opportunities for teachers and students to engage in values-based experiences.  Any change will require that we reimagine schooling and the vision we hold for students’ learning.  The good news is that efforts are being made to create opportunities for students to engage in learning experiences that challenge their sense of self, their context, and their truth. Paul Bardwell, in Students' Broken Moral Compasses, brings focus to this important topic.

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