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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Instilling Solid Values

Governor  Cuomo believes that schools should  teach  values. By values he means compassion, a sense of personal worth, respect for  individual  rights, and working for the common  good  rather than  only for one’s personal interests.  Our children  now  only are  exposed  to the message of materialism.  They are less and less exposed to another point of view which would make them  feela concern and empathy for others.

I once had a discussion with a parent about what she  wanted for  her daughter who was about to enter college.  She  said  she wanted her daughter to have it all and not suffer.  She felt  her daughter needed to be less compassionate than she was and  become tough so that she would be more successful.  Compassion, in  this mother’s  mind,  worked  against   success.   She  did  not  seem concerned about the stresses involved in being tough and was  not convinced  when  I  suggested that compassion opens one  to  the beauty in the world and is what makes life worth living.

Our  children are modeling our behavior and are getting  the message  that concern for others only hinders one in  getting  to the  top.   Further,  getting to the top seems  to  be  the  only worthwhile  goal.  Many schools perpetuate this  model.   Medical students  and  law  students,  people  who  should  be   learning compassion,  are  learning that, not only do you  not  help  your fellow  student,  but you might consider sabotaging  his  efforts because that strengthens your position on the grading curve.

Things will not change until enough people see the danger of producing  adults  who lack compassion and  concern  for  others.  Reverend  Theodore  M. Hesburgh, of Notre Dame  University,  once proposed a non-military counterpart to ROTC.  This program  would provide  full four-year scholarships in return for a pledge  from the students to serve four years in the peace corps.  This  would give the students an opportunity of becoming leaders in the cause of peace and not in the cause of war.

The  Carnegie  Foundation for the  Advancement  of  Teaching included  recommendations that every college student  complete  a service  project  and that colleges offer deferred  admission  to students   who   devote  a  year  to   volunteer   work.    These recommendations  were made because the students in  the  colleges were  primarily  concerned with personal interests and  showed  a lack  of  concern and commitment to social  issues.   Dr.  Ernest Boyer  commented that this mood was so pervasive that one had  to ask about the purpose of education.

In  l985  an  organization  of  university  presidents  and chancellors  was formed called the Campus Compact.   Its  purpose was  to  stimulate student participation in  voluntary  community service.    In  California,  the  State  Legislature  adopted   a resolution which would require community service by all  students who attend four-year public colleges or who receive financial aid at private institutions.

There  are two great needs in our country.  One is the  need to model behavior for our children so that we create a generation of  caring  people  who find fulfillment  not  only  in  personal development but also in giving service and empathizing with their fellow citizens.  The other need is to encourage and support  the attempts  being  made to engage our young  people  in  activities where  they give service for the good of another.  The  rise  in drug abuse, child abuse, spouse abuse, sexual abuse, work  abuse, suicide,  and   violence in this country all point to a  lack  of concern  for  others and a lack of purpose to the  lives  of  our youth.   Many  of  our  youth, when  given  the  necessary  time, encouragement  and opportunity to re-evaluate their goals,  might decide that the race to the top is not the most rewarding way  to spend the rest of their lives.

Posted in Behavior, Educational Reform, From Experience, Getting the Most For Your Child, Parenting, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to Instilling Solid Values

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