Learning core values like respect, honesty and compassion is just as important as the Three Rs, according to former headteacher Dr Neil Hawkes.
The author, speaker and consultant has started a ‘quiet revolution’ – to see more UK schools embrace core morals and values, like kindness and honesty, and place as much importance on them as maths, English and science.
Most parents want their children to grow up with a strong set of values, and become ‘decent’ adults, and Hawkes believes that school plays a crucial part in this.
Nurturing things like compassion, respect, truthfulness and caring for others is just as important as learning the Three Rs – and, according to Hawkes’s research in the UK and Australia, 87 per cent of parents agree.
‘Our values should underpin everything in our lives. Children need to be taught about values in the same way they are taught boundaries,’ he says.
‘The balance in society is tipping. The materialistic side has gathered pace and we are increasingly influenced by a ‘me’ culture.
‘All of this decline has happened in our lifetimes, and it’s up to us now to tackle the problem and reverse the trend.’
It was while working as a headteacher in a primary school in Oxfordshire that Hawkes began to recognise how these elements were lacking, and started developing his Values-based Education philosophy, during the 90s.
One in 10 UK primary schools are now values-based, but Hawkes now feels the time is right to involve more educators and parents.
He’s set a target of reaching 50 per cent of children in the next five years, and explains it all in his new book, From My Heart: Transforming Lives Through Values.
‘My mission now is to expand the concept to more and more schools. The prize is that it will help us and our children to enjoy happier and more fulfilling lives,’ he says.
It’s not just a question of teaching values in the traditional sense. Hawkes explains that positive values (like compassion, respect, honesty, truth, trust, perseverance and caring for others) should be taught and demonstrated in practice by teachers.
‘You can’t teach about values from a board,’ explains Hawkes. ‘Our behaviour is shaped by what we see. If children are surrounded by bad examples, what chance do they have to formulate good practice?’
From My Heart: Transforming Lives Through Values by Dr Neil Hawkes is published by Independent Thinking Press, £14.99.
For more information on values-based education, visit valuesbasededucation.com