What are your school values? Some of the usual suspects are; respect, trust, integrity, responsibility, self-discipline, compassion, perseverance and tolerance. Many schools are proud of their school values because they are meaningful to them and the collaborative effort it has taken to create them. Some schools pedal these values as their character education programme and by and large schools teach their values verbally but often miss any application of the values.
Here are some examples of how four different schools in the UK found themselves in sticky situations this year, as their staff and pupils were not able to walk the talk when it came to their values. A head boy had to be expelled after a police investigation revealed he had been eliciting explicit images from 12 to 14-year-old girls in the school. A 14-year-old girl was discovered to have over 200 naked images of herself on her computer that she had been sending to boys in the school. A socially shy and awkward 13-year-old boy was invited by one of the most popular boys in his class to a birthday party – only to be laughed at on the doorstep and turned away. A male member of staff had to be removed after it was discovered he had been sending sexually explicit messages to boys in his school. All of these schools had strong character education programmes steeped in their school values. Technology certainly is creating new challenges for schools and it has never been easier for people to be seduced into violating values that have not been internalised.
Just telling pupils and staff the school values is wholly insufficient. Information does not transform our character. It’s one thing to see the values up on the wall, but it’s quite a different thing to internalise them. What’s needed is a process to practise and internalise the values that builds a value-based competency within staff and pupils. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People gives us a skillset to practise and internalise values. This is because the 7 Habits add behaviours to the values which helps them come alive with daily application. Values are what you have, but the 7 Habits are what you do – they provide a framework for the development of important socio-emotional skills that empower application. “Socio-emotional development is defined as a psychological theory that human personality is developed through a repeating series of crises and resolution.” For values to be lived in schools there must be a change in the pupil’s and staff’s behaviour that proactively build a culture of high trust. The 7 Habits’ inside-out approach to change enables this self-regulation that embeds behavioural change.
The 7 Habits is a breakthrough in behavioural science because it empowers adults and children to self-regulate by fostering internal motivation. It is the most empowering behavioural approach in education today.
United Education Group