Rosemary Dewan is the CEO of the Human Values Foundation which promotes the importance of teaching human values in schools. Since 1995 it has been providing practical, cross-curricular programmes for personal development and behaviour management, integrating SMSC, PSHE education, Citizenship, PLTS and SEAL.
It is a natural sentiment for parents to want the best for their children and many who have entered the teaching profession have done so because of their love of children.
Silent sitting is an important part of a values education programme. It is an opportunity for children to quieten the mind and body and to be peaceful for a few minutes. It draws out the inner virtue from even the most aggressive children, allowing them to contact their inner source of wisdom.
Many young people are growing up without ever discovering an inner peace or finding this essential quality in their parents.
Silent sitting helps participants discover their true selves, not as others see them. When children are still, they are able to see things as they really are. As with all of us, children can get tensed up and suffer from negative emotions like anxiety and fear. When these emotions are present, children cannot concentrate fully.
What do we mean by character building and why is there ever greater emphasis on it as a necessary part of a child’s development and education?
Many of us will immediately reply: “No! Morals aren’t our concern. Schools have no business telling children what is right or wrong.”
The London 2012 Olympic Games provide an ideal incentive for each of us to shine and enjoy the rewards from raising our personal development bar and supporting one another and children as we go for gold in all that we do and in every aspect of our lives.
How can we achieve this heightened state?
Let’s start by considering what we VALUE, what we treasure, because this is where much of our energy is absorbed. It may be that we value:
How would inhabitants of Kepler-22b rate Planet Earth beings?
If inhabitants of the newly discovered Kepler-22b planet were to quietly visit Earth’s atmosphere and observe the activity on Planet Earth, how would they rate the way we live and how we are looking after our planet? Would they be surprised to see widespread, unsustainable modes of operation that appear to be posing a very serious threat to the very existence of our blue planet?
It is possible that one observation would be that many Earth beings don’t seem to be enjoying the realisation of their full potential due to operating and bringing up their young in a debilitating climate of moral uncertainty. In the minds of our galactic cousins, they might wonder why this matter is not being more urgently addressed, not least for the sake of the health and well-being of Planet Earth and all other forms of life on it.
What is it like being at school?
Were your school days the best days of your life? Are our schools today exciting our children and young people? Are they places in which we are opening the hearts and minds of every single child? Do pupils find that their schools provide a network of support, advice and friendship in which they can blossom and reach their full potential in the knowledge that all the staff and the key adults in their home environments are behind them and keen for them to do well and be happy? Do today’s young citizens leave school with a vision for themselves, inspiring values to guide to their thinking and choices and full of purpose so that they will constantly strive to be victorious in all aspects of their lives?
What are the expectations of 21st-century education?
Considering young citizens of school age, the global debate indicates that ultimately the answer tends to be broadly the all-round or holistic development of each person. Key to achieving this is thoughtful nurturing of the different aspects of individuals and their talents, at home and at school – and hence the SPIES!
On 21 July 2011, Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools, launched a review of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education stating that “The aim of the review is to consider the essential knowledge and awareness that pupils need to be taught, so that they understand the world around them and are able to manage their lives, now and in the future.”
In May 2011, the Department for Education stated that “Citizenship gives pupils the knowledge, skills and understanding to play an effective role in society. It helps them to become informed, thoughtful and responsible citizens aware of duties and rights. It promotes their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, making them more self-confident. It encourages pupils to play a helpful part in the life of their school, community and world.”
Globalisation and rapid, continuous technological change are presenting enormous challenges and making education ever more critical in preparing students for work and citizenship. In modern knowledge economies, education is not only the main driver of growth but a key social equalizer. However, it is vital that matters are kept in perspective so that education not only raises academic performance but also develops and nurtures the personal growth of children and young people by embracing domains such as their emotional wellbeing, their attitudes, their self-esteem and social competencies and their abilities to communicate well, since all these capacities are essential to each individual’s long-term happiness, relationships and attainment, whatever his or her role in today’s complex and extensively interconnected ‘global village’.
There is no doubt that education leaders around the world are deeply aware of the challenges of creating appropriate education systems for today’s new era of rapid change and globalisation and recognise that education excellence is essential to the future success of individuals as family members, in the workplace and as informed, participatory citizens in their local communities and within society at large. Effective schooling aims to educate the whole child, with PSHE education and Citizenship being two of the key components in the mix towards achieving this.
PSHE Education and Ethical Citizenship provide opportunities for some of the essential building blocks of young lives today and our legacy for the future.