Bec Sanderson talks on Good Values Education

What is good values education and what relationship does it have to the notion of character ?  Bec Sanderson led a number of sessions teasing out these ideas and the problems associated with developing a clear picture of what this means.


Bec Sanderson
Bec Sanderson

Gary Walsh (Character Scotland), Bec Sanderson (the Public Interest Research Centre), Rob Bowden (Lifeworlds Learning) and Abi Cornwall (Learning for Sustainability Scotland) worked together to develop a conference on Character and Values on 20 – 21st November 2014.  The days were recorded and podcast as one of the outcomes of the day was to stimulate further action in these areas.


As part of the Character and Values conference, Bec Sanderson explains the exercise of a meditative walk to help people think about what place values should occupy in education. Everyone left the building with the thought that in 50 years time, imagine that your children or grandchildren are in the schooling system, and that they have the best of the best in terms of values education.  The point of this was to help visualise what it would tangibly be.



On return, Bec brought people together to try and coaslesce a group statement about what good values education looks like, and what it does not look like.  We were asked to imagine ourselves into that future and think about what sort of things are we thinking, and what does that look like. This was done before that thinking was taken into different groups to collectively work out what a good values education system looks like and what it does not look like, before comparing what the groups did.



Good values education is not: in pieces or reductive; it is not in the hidden curriculum, is not reductive, it is not about ticking boxes. It is not prescriptive, forced or imposed; it is not finite or restricted in space or time; it is not taught in isolation or taught; it is not balance neutral, not purely cognitive, it is not poorly defined; it is not about a power dynamic, it is not exclusive; it is not easy, it is not institutionalisable, it is not posted on the wall; it is not based on hierarchy or rigid teacher roles; it is not possible with a lack of authenticity; it is not about market preparation, it is not about devaluing the individual; it is not the same for everyone, and it is not motivated by extrinsic values.


Good values education one which helps us foster good relationships with other people, animals, and ourselves. It is achieved through compassion, reciprocity, and the provision of opportunities that are risky and empowering, based on choice rather than coercision, and collaboration rather than competition.



Lastly, Bec talks everyone through an action planning session where people are invited to think about how they can take forward the ideas which came up in the conference in the real world.  When all the ideas are brought together, Rob Bowden describes the exercise of assembling them all into a ‘living feasibility matrix’ where they can be identified in terms of the impact they have and the ease with which they can be implemented