Can Values be both caught and taught?


Can Values be both caught and taught?

by: Tammy Luce
EDU 6526: Instructional Strategies
February 12, 2010

            “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”   (Proverbs 22:6 ) These ancient biblical words express the importance of raising children.  What  children become as adults often mirrors the life they’ve lived and the values of important people who’ve shaped them.  Virtue and strong values are the most essential things we can teach our children.  Honesty, empathy, kindness, truth, and hard work are cornerstones of our society.  It matters how we treat each other.  It matters if we are ethical and honest.  It matters if we are consensus builders who are able to work with many different types of people.  In short, it matters if we are good citizens.

            In American schools today, there is a tremendous pressure to teach children more and more academics at younger ages.   For proof of this, a person needs only to visit the OSPI website and view the increased EALRS and grade level requirements that are added each year.  There is a current belief that if we can teach our kids more, faster, they’ll thrive and succeed.  But is this true?  Almost all children will learn to read, write and solve math equations.  But will most children learn strong values?  Who is responsible for this teaching?

            The world in the twenty -first century is moving faster and faster than ever.  Technology has made it possible to converse with people around the world, instantly, twenty four hours a day.  Through the internet, we have access to more information than we can comprehend.  When searching for answers, we expect quick results.  We’ve grown so accustomed to instantaneous answers that we often tap our fingers on our blackberries as we wait ten seconds for internet access.  In “Can Virtue Be Taught?”, Russell Kirk writes, “In no previous age have family influence, sound early prejudice, and good early habits been so broken in upon by outside force as in our own time.  Moral virtue among the rising generation is mocked by the inanity of television, by pornographic films, by the twentieth-century cult of the peer group.”   Our children need to be protected from this constant media exposure.

            Russell Kirk continues, “Boys and girls will model themselves, if they can, upon exemplars.  But what sort of exemplars?   Rock stars, and the fancied personalities of the heroes and heroines of the soap operas, have become the exemplars for a multitude of young people in their most formative years.  Rarely are such persons, or pseudo-persons, admirable mentors.”  This is where strong, moral teachers have the chance to affect a child’s life.  Traditionally, families, both immediate and extended, have been responsible for teaching children values.   However, in many American homes, the family unit has deteriorated or broken down.  Teachers have a chance to fill this gap or void at school.  Through literature, continuity and strong moral examples, teachers can help children learn important values.  This teaching may not be explicit, however, some of the most important lessons are learned implicitly..  May we all strive to be teachers of strong moral values, who make a positive difference in our students daily lives.


 The Holy Bible, NIV. Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Zondervan. 

Kirk, Russell.  “Can Virtues Be Taught” ( From class handout)

  1. February 15, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Very nicely written, I really like how your pulled in quotes from several different sources.

    I agree that as teachers we should be striving to teach students strong moral values and make a difference in students daily lives.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. February 16, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks, Ellie! Have a great week.


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