From its introduction to Canada in 2002, Living Values Education has primarily been active in BC and in Atlantic Canada where our trainers reside. Since June 2005, however, Living Values Education has begun making inroads into other provinces, with a one day presentation in Montreal at the Concordia University Summer Program and more recently, at a two day training in Brampton, Ontario.
While continuing to target primarily educators and interested parents at our introductory workshops which take place throughout the year and are generally scheduled during teachers' professional day conferences, we are also breaking new ground by raising awareness about Living Values in a variety of environments. The Tatamagouche Centre in Nova Scotia has taken up the program and a training will be delivered there under its name in August 2007. The Tatamagouche Centre is a widely respected leadership dvelopment institute which is linked with the cooperative movement. A training was delivered to a number of instructors at Vancouver Community College in BC. Living Values Education was a part of the World Peace Forum in Vancouver in June 2006. That workshop featured students and a teacher from an LVE school in Brazil who shared their personal success stories with Canadian teachers. Two one day workshops were held recently in the BC interior town of Nelson. Longer summer trainings are regularly offered in BC and in the Maritimes.
In addition to presenting workshops, we raise awareness about LVE by hosting an annual information table at the British Columbia Beginning Teachers' Conference and last year, LVE was fortunate to be a delegate at a three day symposium on Global Education, hosted by the British Columbia Teachers Federation and Simon Fraser University.
In order to provide follow-up and support, to help former workshop participants remain connected, informed and inspired, we have begun publishing a Canadian Living Values Education e-newsletter several times each year.
Currently, LVE is being implemented in varying degrees in individual classrooms. To our knowledge, no entire school has adopted LVE at this time.
Canadian LVEP trainers have far-reaching connections and are actively promoting Living Values abroad. Aspects of the Living Values Education Program, in particular the Conflict Resolution Model, have been taught to students in Uganda, Rwanda and Southern Sudan as part of their PeaceMaking Initiative. Introduced to the regions by one of our executive members, Marg Huber, she writes, "We were in Rwanda at the orphanage last week with four of our African team, and it was a very amazing experience. The Living Values work continues to add in a substantial way to the peacemaking training and I am so deeply grateful to be part of it all."
Number of Sites Using Living Values Education 30+
Sites include a variety of educational settings –
After school care programs, YWCA childcare centre, elementary and middle schools (public and private), private tutoring service, Street Youth Agency, Immigrant Settlement Organization, Family Resource Centres, private psychotherapy clinic, martial arts studio, Mount St. Vincent University Masters of Education Program
The following reflections were submitted by teachers using Living Values Education.
Success Disguised as Survival
I went to my first LVEP workshop a few days before the most challenging school year I have ever faced, began. I knew the history of the class I was to have. There were eight students who were very challenging. The behaviour of this group had been a concern since grade one. They were routinely in the hall, or office, and many of the class members had been suspended on a regular basis. The many and varied discipline initiatives were done to them and had become a meaningless joke to the students. The other children in the school were unsafe and staff, parents and the members of the community were frustrated.
Every day, I see evidence all around our school and community that the anti-bullying programs are not effective. The kids realize it is the next bandwagon and go through the motions but don't put it into practice.
After the workshop I felt hope. I began the year with the unit on respect and it took us almost five months to explore it fully. The changes were dramatic but came slowly. The language the children used to speak to each other was the biggest change I witnessed. Instead of "put downs," foul language and words of hate, they progressed to passionate debate. "I'm not attacking you, but I don't agree with you..." became regular conversation. The discussions we had were awe-inspiring. By naming violence, exclusion, etc. and talking about these kinds of behaviours in reference to respecting self and others, I think we are having more success with students. They see us living what we speak and seeing that peace can be attained, and that there are alternatives to aggressive behavior. When we treat children with respect, listen to them and ensure they have a loving and safe environment and actively name these things they may not be familiar with, we have more chance of reaching them and seeing them explore their own values and asking the difficult questions of themselves and others.
A lot of time was spent on discussing how our playground/school/community was unsafe. Eventually the realization hit that many of them were the cause of this. They began to explore their behaviour choices in a whole new light and they initiated a peer helper program that spring. Our administration team noticed a significant drop in the number of visits these children were making to the office. There was only one suspension all year. Other staff members commented that "something big" had changed the atmosphere of the school. The hallways, bathrooms, playground, bus stops and community hangouts were not seeing the violence and aggression they once had. These were the gauges I used to measure success.
The journey was a long one but well worth the effort. Every child had increased self-worth and self respect when the year ended. They were not perfect. They were more aware of how they affected the world around them and wanted that to be more positive than it had been. I wish that we could have stayed together another year. The LVE workshop I attended changed my attitude toward how the year was going to go and the LVE activities we did together changed all of us for the better.
The personal changes are major for me. They are a huge part of why I continue using the program. I know the difference it has made in my own life and the lives of my family. I am much more peaceful, and calm. I use the language of values and talk about them in daily life with my children and students. Through working with the LVE program I am more intune with my own weaknesses and am practising simplicity to balance things.
Lisa Jenkins, Grade 6, Prince Edward Island
Although it has been a trying week (and a trying day) it's important to see how a teacher can remain values based even in the most difficult situations. Parent-teacher interviews were Wednesday evening and a lot of the kids were affected by their parents not attending (especially my playful little monkeys). I have had a new student, a razor blade incident, boyfriends, and one of my darlings threatening others all in the same week. However, I do find that the students are...if anything...happy. They love their room, they love learning, and I really think they appreciate me. They make jokes with me, put bunny ears on my head in class photos and they can be kids with me in the room. It is interesting to see how far they really have come. It's the little things like language. In September, furniture used to fly, swearing was a big thing, the word rude, fight, cheater, and stolen were frequent choices of words. Now, students say "my pencil is misplaced" as opposed to "someone stole my pencil." We have moved from throwing furniture to crying. We have established a common values-based language, and we know what it is to just be. I feel that once the kids have the language, the next step is internalizing it. They know I care and they know I will help them be who they are and shine with their stars.
I love being this way in the classroom (although I was an exhausted emotional wreck this week). It is purposeful and meaningful, and I love to teach others about it. I find it can be quite draining because I share LVE with the kids who are so needy and I am giving all the time, with parents who want further skills, and with teachers who want to change their atmosphere as well. I have had many conversations with other colleagues who are so inspired by LVE, while others are skeptics. There are so many teachers that are watching to see if it works, and it is tiring to explain and show them that it isn't a quick fix, but rather an investment into another life.
Lisa Forrest, Grade 3, Nova Scotia
Musings from LVE Executive Member and Trainer, Judy Johnson
- I am just back from a wonderful LVEP training this past weekend, the first LVEP in Ontario. We had 20 people from Brampton attend: half were parents, the other half teachers.
We became children in the early part of the session when we shared our favourite memories of being a child - this set a wonderful tone for the weekend. Many people felt that they shed the negative parts of their childhood and were in touch again with their own inner brilliance. It was very touching and a true embodiment of a values based atmosphere.
We changed our approach a bit and focused each of us as the atmosphere in the classroom/home. We created a room in our mind where we felt safe, valued, respected, understood and loved, then we imagined ourselves in this room relating with the children in our lives...very powerful. The changes were apparent when parents came back the next day and reported the ways in which they had responded to their children differently.
- We had a beautiful evening last night with 40 parents attending the Spirited Parenting workshop at Cornwallis Jr. High School in Halifax.
Parents enjoyed a wonderful Appreciative Inquiry exploration of "peak parenting moments." They discovered their innate wisdom in handling situations with their teenagers. Most of them reported that the "peak moments" involved a degree of calm and detachment, truly listening deeply to what their children were saying and meaning, a willful commitment to create a successful interaction rather than letting it spiral downwards.
Feedback indicates that the parents LOVED the Appreciative Inquiry work, finding their own strengths, recognizing interests rather than positions. They all seemed to feel a bit more "spirited" when they left!!!