Monday, November 29, 2004

Values in Schools


Today was the media launch day for the inclusion of five core values into the curriculum of Victorian schools. It is being hailed far and wide as a stupendous non-event, and I have to agree.

Education minister Lynne Kosky is bravely defending the rationality of this move, but is doing it with rhetoric only. An article in today's Age gives some outline of the position and this morning's interview with John Fain on 774 ABC Melbourne revealed little more.

It seems that through some unspecified process, which may have the label of "behaviours", the teaching process will be somehow changed. As far as this reader can tell, what it actually means is that teachers will be asked to do exactly what they used to do, but in a way that's consistent with these values. In other words, not much has been accomplished. It's not like there's any more money, or a more efficient system, or some terrible outmoded thing been replaced or, well, really interesting.

The "core values" are :
1) Openness of mind
2) Pursuit of excellence
3) Respect for evidence
4) Learning for all
5) Engagement and effort

It's hard to argue that any of these are per se bad, but it's also hard to see how they are the most relevant values to be teaching in schools. It might not be drawing a long bow to suggest that a few more commandments than 5 might be worth instilling in our young learners.

MelbournePhilosopher suggests these alternative values instead as promoting a better model for learning...

1) Rational thought
2) Tolerance
3) Creativity
4) Pride of Mind
5) Fun

Associated with this of course must be a return to the proper use of language, and of course a little less Pomp and Circumstance.


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