Saturday, July 17, 2010

values, character and morality in schools

Many people are concerned about school behavior, and many of those who represent various religions have presented the hypothesis that prayer in schools, classes on the Bible, prominent display of the Ten Commandments and other trappings of specific Christian faiths would correct the behavior and attitudes often seen in schools. The idea of course, is that public schools should more closely resemble Sunday School, and if that's the case, don't expect attendance to increase. Me, as a teen? I'd have been out of there and quick.

What if we can have values based eduction without the complication of inviting religion into American public school classrooms? As I've mentioned before in the blog, making things is always an expression of values. You either make an object with care and attention, that it may serve others with useful beauty, or you do not. A student made object is a true and complete expression of its maker's hand. (and mind and heart.)

One interesting thing that we discovered in our class, "Brain, hands and the arts" is that the engagement of the right side of the brain connects us in more meaningful ways with each other, and that connection is the foundation of moral values and character education. Can it be that we can create schools in which children care more for each other, are more cooperative with teaching staff and administration, see more clearly educational goals for themselves, and truly become lifelong learners? It can be a simple thing. Engage both halves of the brain, commandeer both parts of each student's attention, through the strategic implementation of the hands.


  1. Doug, thanks for the work you do. The light you shed on this important topic. I read it all even though I don't comment.

    I want to share with you a video explaining how the time perspective kids are being rewired by technology.

    While I don't have kids and not involved in education, I feel that for community cohesion, education is the most important building block. I know it was for me. Working with my hands saved me.

  2. An example of these values achieved through work with the hands is something a friend of my has seen. One of her projects with the conservation district was to have students paint trash cans with their own artwork that are placed around town. Since the cans have been painted there has been fewer acts of vandalism and disappearance of the cans.

    She also has had students working in a community "outdoor classroom" planting, weeding, and decorating a public park area. This area is a place that the kids have gravitated to and have been able to use it with a sense of pride that it is "theirs" and they have a stake in it. So they seem to take care of it much better than if someone else had built it and turned it over to them.