Should Schools “Instill Values?”

A recurring dream of schools throughout the world is their fervent belief a school can or should “instill values” in students. An assumption of this concept is that those who run schools agree on “values” and are capable of “instilling” those values into the minds of children. Of course, most psychologists believe childhood values come from the family, but schools continue seeking to impose their values in the classroom. The Ministry of Education in Kuwait recently sent a circular to all schools that teachers should be focusing on instilling values deriving from the Islamic religion. The project calls for spending three minutes on value propogation.

Children get values from those who have significance in their lives, not from a talking head who preaches ideas. We learn from those who engage us in meaningful ways that result in a desire to behave in the same manner as those whom we admire. A talking head is the last person in the world who can do anything other than bore students to death.

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