Living Values Festival — Be the Change
It was a joy to watch the smiles and feel the happiness in the hearts of children, parents and friends at the very first Living Values Festival in Kuwait as they came to live and rediscover their values. The many enthralling activities were creatively conceived and designed by Ioanna Vasileiadou and lovingly crafted through the teamwork of the Student Council, parents, colleagues and members of the wider community at the Kuwait American School. The purpose of the six hour event was simple: ‘Be the Change’.
The many interwoven values-based themes placed a strong emphasis on choosing to ‘Live Your Values in Ethical Ways’ through, amongst others, valuing the collection and re-using of recycling materials, creative artwork, fun filled games, healthy eating, physical activities and especially awakening the inner world of values.
The pictures show that many of the activities were especially designed and hand crafted to add authenticity to the occasion. Friends of Living Values Education who read this are warmly invited to consider adopting some of the activities in their own contexts.
1. Creating the Atmosphere
Great care and time was taken to create a loving, colorful, attractive and safe environment welcoming everyone to the Festival. Soft pastel shades of fine cotton drapes were carefully selected and adorned the courtyard overhead together with painted umbrellas around the fencing. A stage for performances was constructed, and cleverly painted old car tyres with specially designed cushions were set around tables made from recycled pallets. Little touches of authenticity included values statements on tables, values-based blessing cards, flowers, simple quotations, values-based banners designed by the children and cheerfully played soft music to uplift the spirit.
One of the many highlights was the creation of a values-based garden. These wooden boxes, each painted with a different value, for example, joy, happiness, respect, etc — are now around the school with ‘Peace and Love’ adorning the entrance. The children’s comments, with pure pride: ‘This is the flower I planted’.
Highlighted in the following photographs are many examples that brought much joy for children and their mums and dads.
2, Creativity and Design using Recycling Materials
Look out for:
Canvas Art and the painting of used CD’s. The completed canvas is now in the school’s Etiquette Room.
Lantern Making using recycled jam jars.
Art Decorations using recycled materials and feathers.
3D Recycling Creativity using larger materials.
Angel Photography against a much-loved angel picture kindly created by community artist Michelle Pfeiffer.
Other activities included:
Dream Catcher Making to catch the best dreams.
Designing Jewelry — the winner of which would have their design professionally made and marketed by Sula’s Shop.
Design a Values-Based Banner and peg it on a washing line.
3. Values-Based Games
Look out for:
The Jenga Game hand made from wooden blocks with different values written on the side. A very popular game.
Floor Chess with pieces made from recycled plastic bottles and card.
Treasure Hunting — a fun filled exploration game where plastic diamonds of different sizes and colors were hidden in the play area for young and old to discover.
Everyone was a winner and received a mini heart and values card on ring.
Other activities included:
Archery — very popular — can you hit the target?
Bowling — can you hit the target?
Matching Game — participants were invited to answer questions with multiple choice answers.
4. Inner World Values-Based Activities
Look out for:
The Virtues Wheel fun filled activity where children spun the handmade wheel to discover the deeper meaning of their chosen values.
The Virtue Scope Activity that was very popular with older children and parents.
The Wishing Tree where everyone was invited to write a wish on prepared blank cards and then put the card on the tree for all to see.
This tree is now at the welcoming entrance to the school along with the Garden Boxes.
Signs and Quotes added to the atmosphere and the interest.
Other activities included:
The Worries Free Pot where children and adults privately sat in a comfortable area behind beautiful drapes to listen to soft music on headphones and write down their worries and give them away to the ‘Swan Pot’.
It was touching to note that most worries were about relationships and the future of the world.
5. During the Day
Non-stop entertainment took place during the day including: musical performances from children, children with teachers and guests who gave freely of their time.
One particular highlight was the sharing of a play from the Kindergarten Teaching team about a young child who took comfort from her ever listening grandmother while her parents and teachers were always engaged with social media. All was well in the end when the family came together to listen, to read and talk with one another.
Healthy Eating and Healthy Lifestyle
Special emphasis was also placed on healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle. The day started with a yoga session, followed by a hoola-hoop demonstration and a child hoola-hoop session that captivated us all.
‘Non-junk food’ by way of only vegetarian and vegan options from, amongst others BE and Ginger, were well attended and thoroughly enjoyed. A healthy vegetarian food competition for mums and dads was also enjoyed by all as everyone tasted their lovingly made creations.
Towards the end of the day, an especially prepared sweet kindly donated by Harmony House and a values card were offered to everyone.
The Promise of Tomorrow
All in all — a lot of hard work went into the preparation with long lasting memories that matched the joys of a values filled day with full hearts and happiness for all.
Living Values Education, Kuwait, is grateful to everyone who gave from their heart and made the day a significant success.
Submitted by Peter Williams
Live your Life: A skit about the effects of social media
This skit, “Live your Life”, was presented at the Living Values Festival in Kuwait.
It was a beautiful Spring Day — a perfect day to enjoy the simple outdoors. Nada was very excited and anxious to go out and play.
She ran to her mum who was sitting on the park bench.
‘Mum, mum…..Look at my picture’, she said.
Mum was too busy looking at her mobile phone and ignored her daughter.
‘Mum. Mum’, continued Nada, ‘But you’re right here!’
Mum replied: ‘Send me an email’.
Nada continued speaking to herself: ‘Oh-ho!! I just knew it! Never time for me…….always on the phone!’
Poor Nada was so disappointed and tired with her teacher who was sitting next to her mum.
‘Hello Ms Maria’, she said to her teacher, but there was no response.
It’s not surprising. She had one eye on her laptop and one on her i-pad and was checking her phone in-between time!
Nada tugged at her teacher to get her attention, but this only caused her teacher to get angry!
Nada knew it was no use. She just sat down in the grass.
It wasn’t but a few minutes later when along came her dad. All his concentration was on his phone as he by-passed his daughter without even a glance and sat on the bench.
Nada was so happy to see her dad. She immediately jumped up and ran to him. His face was just blank as he stared into his phone. He couldn’t be bothered.
Well, she knew exactly what to do. She went to her Grandma.
As soon as Nada asked her grandmother to look at her picture, there was no hesitation. Grandma praised her and they talked about all the details of the lovely picture.
‘Let’s see what else we can do today? said Grandma, ‘Play bubbles, ball, read a story?’
And that’s exactly what they did!
‘Hey, Granny, come and look at these ants…..aren’t they amazing?’
Grandma never hesitated to do anything Nada wanted to do, or look at anything Nada wanted to do, or look at anything Nada wanted her to see.
‘Yes, they sure are amazing, dear!’ said Grandma.
It wasn’t long before laughter came roaring from Nada and her grandmother. It actually got her mother’s attention who joined them and also began to laugh, which had a domino effect on her teacher and father who also joined in.
It wasn’t long before they all joined in, in a game of catch. Afterwards they read a story together.
Keep this in mind!
You can’t upload love — You can’t download time
You can’t Google all of life’s answers!!
You must actually live some of your life!
The play finished with everyone singing ‘It’s a Wonderful World’.
Nada – Nada Al-Karmi
Mum – Hadeel Jarrar
Father – Nadia Al-Jallad
Teacher – Maria Toll
Grandma – Alaa Abdullah
2017 Current Status
Bringing LVE’s Theoretical Model to Life in a Practical Way
Peter Williams, the former president of ALIVE and the Head Teacher of the Kuwait American School, shared a wonderful experience: “Today was the first day of the new academic year at the K-12 Living Values-Based Kuwait American School for all 70 staff. We began by sharing Living Values Education’s theoretical model in a living way by way of the World Cake activity from “Living Values Activities for Children Ages 8-14”.
Members of the KG staff began to make the cake by stepped forth to represent a huge circular baking tin that could turn at varying speeds to mix the ingredients. Putting the ingredients into the cake began by them inviting 2 colleagues to bring a value ingredient of their choice into the cake to be baked. They, in turn, invited 2 more colleagues who in turn invited 2 more colleagues. So there was 8, then 16, then all. Imagine the staff speaking their value as they entered the cake mix — and then bouncing up and down or waving their arms as they cooked their values — amazingly all different values with the tin spinning!
Then the bad guy came — me — to take out one ingredient — the appreciation ingredient. You can imagine how the caring staff shouted 'no' and clung on to the educator who brought appreciation to the cake.
Living Values is for all in our KAS cake — students, parents and faculty. We cooperate and learn together in an atmosphere of LVRUS — Love, Values, Respect, Understanding and Safety where there is no place for put downs.
What did we learn?
The educators come from 33 different countries/ cultures, each with their own gifts, learning and teaching approaches … and own set of personal and shared values. We were amazed to discover that there were so many different values that we all understood. The same will, of course, apply to our students.
The Life Skills Approach that Matters
We all have values and beautiful qualities inside of us — yet do we take time to understand what really matters to each and every child to discover their innate gifts, approaches to learning and individual set of personal and shared values? That's why the school educates for values, resilience and life skills. Looking at the world today, there are many youngsters waiting to be listened to and some who are bullied or stigmatized for having values-based issues — sometimes defined as personal or mental or well-being issues.
Perhaps a growing awareness of a 4 step practical living values-based approach will help to add voices to what really matters to us all:
a. What are your values?
b. What are your shared study place/workplace values? Are they understood and in alignment with your own?
c. How can we come together so that our shared values blend to help students and one another?
d. How can we genuinely add to what matters for us all?
The next step will be to share the same with our students as they learn to navigate their lives with hope, resilience, identity and a belief in what really matters.”
Kuwait: World Values Day
World Values Day was for everyone at the Kuwait American School as we joined hands with children around the world to take part and celebrate in our Festival of Values.
The day began with a very special assembly where the teachers acted out how to live in your values and invited all children to model the same. Each child, wearing their own specially designed values tee-shirt, joined in the heart-felt occasion with songs, dance and especially a quiet reflection upon the language of values and how to give them away.
The first pictures show the theme of our World Values Day and our youngest children wearing their tee shirts with a diamond necklace that represented the beauty of their values. The second picture captures the expression of one child symbolically reaching out to help others.
In the courtyard was a Values Tree upon which the youngest children added the names of their favorite values. The older children added values statements as leaves upon the tree.
At 11am, the whole school of 650 students, ages 2 to 18 years, educators, administrators and the ladies who assist around the school came together in the courtyard for two minutes of Peace Time. It was a very special moment for us all as we gave our love and feelings of peace to our one world. The silence was filled with 'something' and no-one wanted to leave.
In a world of values, we reminded ourselves that we all have much to give that only we can give. And, as one child shared: 'That was my best day ever'. We all agreed and the mums and dads at home who shared in the day did too!
Educators Take Time Out for Themselves
In December,33 participants from schools across Kuwait gave up their Saturday to attend a seminar on Living Values Education. We shared many practicalities that can be used in the everyday classroom – yet one activity stood out. It was Peace Time – Time for Me – a time to stop during the day to be quiet, to reflect and to be still. We discovered that what the students needed to help create a positive learning environment, we, as educators need too!
How was this achieved? We switched the lights off and everyone was invited to close their eyes. A guided commentary by way of a story, first for the ears of children accompanied by very soft music, was led by Dina Eidan, followed by a ‘personal reflection’ guided commentary on the qualities of an educator from Ioanna Vasileiadou for the educators. Silence and stillness filled the room. No-one wanted to leave the moment with educators feeling loved, valued, respected, understood and safe.
How often do we, as educators, take ‘Time Out for ourselves?’ to live the very moments we seek to bring to our students?
As an outcome of the day, the introduction of Peace Time and ‘Stilling’ activities in the everyday classroom is continuing to grow in this turbulent, yet hopeful part of the world, helping to uplift the hearts, minds and spirit of children of all ages – including ourselves.
Kuwait: Living Values Goes Green in Kuwait
“This April we put together a few concepts and activities to celebrate and help spread awareness to Recycling, Reducing and Reusing,” reported Duaa Mansour, the Focal Point for LVE in Kuwait. “On Earth week we had a Recycling Fashion Show Event that took place at the Kuwait American School. It was an evening in which the students created a wardrobe of outfits using Recycled materials. Also, during this week the elementary department managed to put together an assembly showcasing sculptures and 3D models of recycled materials they brought from home and created in Art class. During Art and Science classes the students talked about the importance of recycling, reducing and reusing materials usually thrown out.
There is a variety of reasons to go green, but most come back to supply and demand. We have a limited amount of resources available and more and more people using them up. If we want our future generations to enjoy the same standard of living we've experienced, we need to take action.
Don’t you want to make the world a better place? Implementing green practices into your classroom, home and office can help reduce waste, conserve natural resources, improve both air and water quality, and protect our ecosystems.
In order to conserve a clean beautiful earth to live in it is how we begin teaching students at a young age the importance of recycling. Students are like sponges and observe information well if they learn about it starting with early childhood education and continuing throughout their school years. They should be aware of the importance of recycling, and therefore I strongly believe each school should implement into their lesson plans a lesson of recycling in order for the students to begin recycling themselves. Students should learn about the causes and effects of recycling and from there teach their families of the importance of it if their families don’t contribute to recycling themselves. They need to know why recycling will conserve a better earth to live in.
First of all we need to educate on why we need to recycle. It is very important to help our earth by recycling and letting our children know there are several reasons why we should recycle versus why we should not recycle. One reason to recycle would be different products that we use take years to decompose when we just simply throw them away in our trash cans. We can help our world by recycling and sorting the items out properly which will result in us re-using it instead of waiting years for it to decompose in a landfill. The more we recycle the more we help out. By recycling we can reduce the prices of products because it lowers the cost of making new products each time they are wasted. Recycling reduces our dependence of landfills.
The more we recycle the less we have to use the landfills to decompose materials or products. The less land we are harming results in the more land we are conserving by recycling products. Another reason to recycle would be it protects our earth and our own health. We might ask ourselves how recycling protects our health but indeed it does. Harmful substances are decomposed and we inhale all of their remains. It is not healthy to inhale these dangerous substances and by recycling such products we can prevent this from occurring. Recycling also conserves our natural resources. It decreases the need for raw substances. Many have thought that if we don’t recycle we will run out of room to put all of our trash. Just imagine how many people there are on earth and how much trash each citizen produces. Eventually if we continue to not recycle we will indeed run out of spaces to put all of our trash. One of the main reasons we should teach our students to recycle is to reduce global warming. Reducing global warming will help us conserve our precious earth. Schools can help us teach our students about recycling. Students can learn about recycling by actually taking part of it both at school and at home.
From a rapidly greening Kuwait, we invite you to join hands to help our Earth. Go Green!”
What LVE Has Meant to the High School Graduating Class at KAS
The Kuwait American School (KAS) was founded on the Living Values Education Program in 1999. Many of the graduating students from Grade 12 have benefited from the school's Living Values Education program for 15 years – from their early childhood days to young adult maturity. They are now entering the world as global citizens.
Rawan Koujah spoke on behalf of her classmates during her Graduation with Honors acceptance speech in June 2014. Rawan is now studying Medicine at the University of Dublin.
An excerpt from her Acceptance Speech:
“With doors opening of various beginnings – rich with fascinating opportunities – we are gathered here to celebrate the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one with pure independence, responsibility and courage.
Our school has the dream of influencing and awakening the utmost capabilities of a person's positive powers and to educate and enlighten its students and staff through its core base: living values. The vision is to graduate you all – not only with high academic knowledge – but of high moral standards that depends on a person's ethics, values, goodness and attitude towards life itself.
For us all, the process was not easy to carry out. Expecting responses to these teachings required patience and a strong source of belief. Sometimes we did not understand for in the end we are human.
As time went by, we began to unravel the secrets behind such values: respect, tolerance, honesty and other values. The walls around us were disassembling – slowly fading away – creating a family of our own, a family of students and teachers. What others called school, we called family. And travelling deep into the family, lied our class; a family within a family.
Many of you may ponder as to what makes our bond so special? No, our relationships were not flawless. As a class we had our ups and downs. However, with faith and determination, and acceptance, we managed to overcome various obstacles. When our paths seemed to diverge, the paths always managed to meet again. We traveled together, as a pack, never leaving a person behind, constantly encouraging the next step to be taken. When others feared, the rest would assure. When some fell, the rest lifted. Together we grew. Together we flourished. We saw through the flaws of each and every classmate and discovered the beauty within. We had many unforgettable moments.
However, now ends this phase and begins a journey to test our endurance and individuality. A journey built on the foundation of our childhood, our values and time together. Now, we stand before various paths, at the end of an intersection. Soon we will part our ways, choosing the path which suits our individual interest. However, none will be forgotten, for each one us here will travel, holding onto a piece of the soul of the others.
LVE Grows and Teachers Create Toolkits – What the children need, we need
Character and values-based education is steadily growing in Kuwait through the development, sharing and living of a universality of values that are adapted to culture and context.
Parents, in particular, are requesting more values-based learning as witnessed by the opening of the Living Values-based Toddler’s Town Q8 School for children aged 2 to 5 years. Their Director, Haya Alsenafi and Educational Specialist, Rashaa Al-Abdulghafar, are very enthusiastic about Living Values Education and have trained all their staff into the Living Values Education approach with Duaa Mansour, as shown by the enclosed photographs.
The Kuwait American School continues to be a model school for Living Values Education attracting visitors from near and far to witness the effectiveness of its 15 years of experience.
Helen Sayers, the Focal Point for Oman, conducted a two day training on ‘Modeling Values’ to all 60 staff members in August 2014. Two particular highlights were the development of ‘Quiet Time’ and the development of practicalities to help ‘Empower and Sustain yourself in the classroom’. Quiet time included a number of reflection activities including visualization, commentary and especially ‘quietly being’ – the latter which is very important in the Middle East where children of all ages are disturbed by current events.
With regard to empowering and sustaining yourself in the classroom, the photograph shows one of 9 groups sharing their ‘tool kit’ creativity. Using everyday items as a metaphor, all groups were invited to create a number of tools to help sustain themselves in their demanding professional role. The illustrated example, from six colleagues representing six countries follows:
- A Clock – for time management
- An Infinity Sign – for patience
- Food – for healthy body
- Hot Drink – for refreshing the mind
- A Sofa – for relaxing
- A Book – for giving and receiving knowledge
- Two People – to share together and cooperate
- A Mirror – for reflection
- Two Pillars – for support in all you do
- Alone Time – for Quietly Being
- Love – to keep us going
Many other metaphors were created by the other groups including: Roots of trees leading to happiness, Nature for calm and peace, peace of mind, positive energy and clouds of happiness, A Cuddly bear for security, A Chocolate bar to keep things sweet, A Key to ‘open their hearts’, A Calendar for organization, Sticky plasters for healing, and the image of a Swan – to see the best in all and not only the ugly duckling.
Together, everyone shared the same sustainability issues in a light hearted way though with a deep meaning. It showed that we all have the same issues to manage each day whatever role we play as educators and that what the students need, we need too!
Living Values Education, we felt, is for all. Adding values to internationalism is our next step. It’s a vision to which Living Values Education in Kuwait is happy to continue to contribute, to share and to learn.
Evidence That Modeling Our Values Creates a Better World
The State of Kuwait, guided by the exceptional leadership of the country, has been awarded ‘International Humanitarian Centre’ status by the United Nations and its leader the honor as ‘Humanitarian Leader’. The award to this small, yet big-hearted, desert nation reflects values in action. For example, the natural giving and sharing by the many nationalities that inhabitant these lands, the reaching out with practical care for those in other countries, and the care for the environment including the blooming of the desert. Billboards and hoardings speak of honesty, trust, choice, freedom, innovation and peace; sponsored family walks raise thousands for good causes, individuals have established happiness ventures, and, amongst others, schools and universities have embraced ethical values and character development in their curriculum.
Our children are our leaders of tomorrow and exemplify hope for a better world. For example, a recent visit by the Kuwait American School to the children’s cancer ward at a national hospital invited in love for the unwell children and also an opportunity to appreciate that values are everywhere – as shown by the nurse’s values board in the photograph.
Recently, I was also touched by a very large invitational poster, designed by a child, at the well frequented Scientific Center. Children were invited to write their comments upon the theme ‘Stop animal cruelty’. Out of the hundreds in many languages, one particularly caught my eye. She stated: ‘Just like us, animals have feelings, a soul and a heart. Let’s stop killing them and start loving them’.
Values from the heart embrace change for good and one of the leading institutions in the field continues to be the Kuwait American School who are to be congratulated upon its full accreditation, at their first attempt, by the Council for International Schools. The school started its Living Values Education journey in September 1999 and, as the first Living Values Education-based school to grow from the root in the Middle East, it has grown to be the first K-12 fully accredited Living Values Education international school in the world with a family of over 30+ nationalities and 500+ students. Their model and their way have been shared with so many.
What did the visiting team of august educators highlight that echoed the atmosphere and learning qualities that radiate throughout so many Living Values Education schools around the world? Their comments commended:
- The teaching staff for their dedication to the spirit of the Living Values and the warm, supportive relationship between staff and students.
- The Living Values ethos which promotes the characteristics of fairness, trust and mutual respect.
- The students for embracing the Living Values Education approach and demonstrating it in their day-to-day life.
- The Student Council which offers so many leadership opportunities for students and promotes global citizenship.
- The positive impression of the school in terms of its feel and open culture providing honest, considered dialogue.
- The warm classroom environment where the needs of the students are met with respect,
- And perhaps the most touching: ‘What is it about the feel in this school? You can almost touch it. Everyone is happy – students, parents and teachers – and learning and living together so well”.
The poster picture, designed by a member of staff at KAS, with the words 'Let us feel the divine energy of light bringing newness of life!' carries a message of one example of how we can live our values with newness and hope.
There is an intuitive knowing in these lands that words are not enough – you have to live and model them. Many individuals, schools, universities and institutions are quietly becoming examples of a ‘better way’ – a values-based way.
Living Values Education is blossoming into many forms. The true evidence is in ourselves and the way we model our goodness. Kuwait is an example to learn from – and so, too, the children of all ages who are a living model of the world of their values.
Healing and Happiness through Art
There is a growing amount of evidence in Kuwait that Art is a very powerful healing and happiness medium for expressing and sharing our inner world through non-verbal expressions that bypass verbal defences. Within this international community, and supported by the facilitation of Living Values trainer Dua’a Mansour and visual arts experts here in Kuwait, youngsters and adults have been strengthening their skills and understanding of their inner world of values through Art in many ways. For example, painting ‘Umbrellas for Peace’ as part of the global Matt Lamb initiative has graced schools and universities, and the ‘Recycled Art’ initiative has empowered youth to re-use materials to exhibit their work in public places.
The pursuit of happiness and health in life is a foundation we often forget in the rush to be created ‘to be someone’ rather than, as youth would wish, to create a life of health and happiness ‘from the heart’. Key to Art Therapy’s success are the youth, who, through their wishing to reach out and heal our world, set creative living examples of what can be achieved with regard to healing ourselves with self-respect, helping to heal others with listening, understanding and practical help, and healing the environment by caring for and protecting our natural habitats.
To assist in this process, Living Values Education has been reaching out to assist the living values foundation for newly opened schools, embarking on ‘hands on’ environmental programs, assisting the development of Living Values Education in neighboring countries especially in the field of reflective practices, and continuing to train educators into the LVE methodologies and assisting educators to explore the virtues of Art. The photo reflects one image from the Art Therapy program at an international school. Experience is indicating that words have different meanings in different contexts, and so, too, has Art. Art is for everyone and so, too, are our shared values.
Students Respond: What does it mean to be in a Living Values School?
Two high school students wrote the following together when asked the question: What does it mean to be a Living Values School? They have been enrolled at the Kuwait American School, a LVE Model School, since they were young children. "In our eyes, it's a school that values the lives of each and every single student. It's not a school that forces a student to abide by one rule saying it's our way or the highway, but a school that wants students to be themselves; a school that doesn't close doors in your face, but keeps them open long enough for you to walk through. It's a school that says yes to your hopes, yes to your dreams, and gives you whatever you need to achieve your goals. They are telling you to shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you will land among the stars, rather than get burnt by the sun that we call life. That's what a living values school is."
Abdulrahman and Shuail
Kuwait - Living Values News
Love is all around me.
The Living Values Education team has been hosting a number of educators interested in developing Living Values Education in state and private schools. 70+ educators and administrators from the Ahmadi District and 25+ Early Years Educationalists and Principals from the Salwa District attended Early Years and Primary Education Living Values workshops at the Kuwait American School and attended assemblies and classes to see Living Values Education in practice. Further to their visit, and a visit by the Head of Private Education, enthusiasm has resulted in the implementation of Living Values Education practices within their own schools.
The Center for Child Evaluation and Teaching in Kuwait is a facility that addresses the needs of students on the Special Needs spectrum. As a result of attending a Living Values Education awareness program, all of their educators and assessors have been trained into Living Values Education and implement the program to all fellow educators, visitors to the centre, and parents and children.
Love Assembly with KG1 students
Principals, administrators and leading educators from the Institute of Private Education, representing Arabic, Bi-lingual and English schools attended a one day conference on 'Leadership and Living Values'. The keynote speaker for the day was Helen Sayers from LVE Oman supported by the six strong LVE team. As a result, the schools in the consortium have adopted the practice with two schools fully implementing Living Values Education particularly in the Primary and Middle Years and, one teacher who was present, has introduced the Living Values Education program to Sudanese mothers at the Sudanese Embassy in Kuwait.
Active Listening with Helen Sayers at the Kuwait American School
The Sudanese link is particularly significant as the students at the Kuwait American School wrote cards of hope to the children of Darfur wishing them joy and happiness in their lives, and especially to let them know that they had not been forgotten. Some children also included their pocket money and small toys. Parents sent money and a parent card to mothers. Two months later, the cards arrived safely in Darfur and were very well received. When positive newspaper articles from Sudan reporting on the delivery of the letters of hope arrived in Kuwait, the children said that the articles were good and hoped that the readers felt that we give from our heart. Reading more deeply into the newspaper articles, it transpired that the President of Sudan's wife arranged for photocopies of the letters to be exhibited in Khartoum to which she invited all the ambassadors to show how simple ideas work. Local Sudanese children also joined in the letters of hope and giving. Asking the students, once again, what this meant to them, one child said; 'It's easy to give and it's good that others can too'. We all learnt that it is the small everyday things we do that help to make a difference.
One of the greatest benefits of introducing Living Values Education in Kuwait is the developing use of 'quiet time' and 'visualisation'. Schools are becoming calmer and children more relaxed and successful in their learning. The warm and welcoming atmosphere of assemblies is adding to the richness of children's learning. International schools use these techniques to help students concentrate especially in language development and music. Yoga, well being and relaxation classes are becoming regular features in local and international schools both in class time and for extra curricular activities. 10 years ago, it would have been unusual to see children using 'relaxation techniques' in school. Now, it is being used more widely.
'Love from the Heart' IPE Training June 2008
The Kuwait American School continues to be one of the leaders in this field willing to share good practice and to learn with others. In August 2009, Helen Sayers lead the 30+ staff of the school into Living Values Education practices using a wide range of innovatory techniques especially using Ubuntu principles. As a result, the implementation of Living Values Education has been further strengthened across the school. One child, who is 7 years old, had been reflecting on the meaning of love. His poem at the end of this news touched many hearts.
Within the wider community, one very successful example of positive values in action was the production of an adaptation of Jonathan Living Seagull. Performed to an august Kuwait audience at one of the top theatres was a highlight for the students who came to form the cast from several schools across Kuwait. The event, sponsored by a local telecommunications company, with music composed by Living Values Education teacher Velina Andreeva and the performance directed by Living Values Education teacher Joanna Vasilaeidou, left a deep felt message and positive lasting impact. During the event, the children learnt about co-operation, freedom, respect and the enduring value of being valued for who you are. Many parents were deeply touched by the performance, a first for Kuwait, and after the event, two local companies adopted values statements.
Living Values Education has also been facilitating Parenting programs for a number of years with a widening audience of interest. What matters to parents is a dialogue that welcomes the practical application of what to do within the context of these fascinating lands. Living Values Education programs led in both English and Arabic have been popular with an increasing emphasis on the use of Arabic. Dr Hassan Eidi, a resident Psychiatrist, has been facilitating the Arabic Parenting program. His guided commentary to help relax parents was a particular feature.
Living Values Education in Kuwait has the advantage of having all the Living Values Education texts published in Arabic. These are available in local bookshops and sell out on a regular basis. Living and working within the Arabic context has added enormous value to Living Values Education and to the lives of all those who add value to their own lives and the lives of others.
Schools and Educational establishments using Living Values Education: 14
Harold stands at the school gate most mornings to greet his fellow students. He sees that everybody comes to school with love and he been wondering why. He wrote part of his poem at the school gate and read his poem to the whole school in assembly.
We are made out of Love
We are made out of love.
God made us out of love.
Love gives us talent and respect to others.
Love is when we show our love to others and also respect others.
God has a power called love.
He uses that power of love for special times only and
Everyone around this hall is made out of love here today.
When you have a problem with love – God is always there to help you.
You have to respect others.
The planet Earth is also made out of love.
God is gravity
God is love
God's body is made out of love and gravity.
You have a good voice and a bad voice.
Your good voice is the voice that makes everybody love you.
No matter which country or religion you are from
Love is the property for anybody
For everybody has love.
Harold. Grade 2 - Kuwait American School - February 2010
Kuwait American School - Values-Based Education
Written by Mr Peter Williams and Ms Aruna Ladva
The Kuwait American School (KAS) is the only one of its kind in the Middle East offering a special values-based education program that is now operational in over 7000 sites in 74 different countries.
At KAS children love coming to school, they are eager to learn and are reluctant to leave at the end of the day. Teachers and students together in a co-creative way generate a very positive and healthy atmosphere which is conducive to learning and growing.
No words can express the feeling, atmosphere and clear success of this school, said an international visitor sent by the Kuwait Education Authority. Wherever I go, I see happy, smiling faces and children learning and helping one another.
KAS students at their Messenger of Peace Concert, 4 June 2003.
Many parents, education officials and visitors have witnessed the growth of this school and ask, What is the secret of your success? The secret is simple. Value yourself and value others.
In the beginning, the dream of Mrs. Wajeeha Al-Habib, the Director, and Peter Williams, the Founding Principal, was to establish the Kuwait American School as a child-friendly primary school based on values. That dream has now turned into reality.
Their vision was further enhanced by all the staff and the local community, who also believed in the product of a values-based education. The program takes everyone towards the highest dimension of human potential, reaching beyond the conventional and enabling children, staff and the community to live their values together.
The program being implemented at the Kuwait American School is officially known as Living Values Education Program (LVEP) and it has been produced in response to the call for values in education.
LVEP offers a variety of experiential values activities and practical methodologies to teachers and facilitators to enable children and young adults to explore and develop 12 key universal values: Cooperation, Freedom, Happiness, Honesty, Humility, Love, Peace, Respect, Responsibility, Simplicity, Tolerance, and Unity. LVEP also contains special units for use with parents and caregivers, refugees and children-affected-by-war. LVEP is already in use at over 7000 sites in 74 countries.
Teachers implementing LVEP have only positive and heart-warming stories to relate. The most frequent themes noted in educator evaluations are positive changes in teacher-student relationships and in student-student relationships both inside and outside the classroom. Educators note an increase in respect, caring, cooperation, motivation, and the ability to solve peer conflicts on the part of the students. Aggressive behaviors decline as positive social skills and respect increase.
How do we empower individuals to choose their own set of values? What kind of specialized training is necessary for educators to integrate values into existing programs? How can values-based education prepare students for lifelong learning in their communities?
The purpose of LVEP is to provide answers to these questions and offer guiding principles and tools for the development of the whole person, recognizing that the individual comprises physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions.
The aim of LVEP is to firstly help individuals think about and reflect on different values and the practical implications of expressing them in relation to themselves, others, the community, and the world at large. And secondly to encourage educators and caregivers to look at education as providing students with a philosophy of living, thereby facilitating their overall growth, development, and choices so that they may integrate themselves into the community with respect, confidence, and purpose.
As UNICEF's Commission, headed by Jacques Delors, reports in Learning: The Treasure Within, "In confronting the many challenges that the future holds in store, humankind sees in education an indispensable asset in its attempt to attain the ideals of peace, freedom and social justice. The Commission does not see education as a miracle cure or a magic formula opening the door to a world in which all ideals will be attained, but as one of the principal means available to foster a deeper and more harmonious form of human development and thereby to reduce poverty, exclusion, ignorance, oppression and war."
The first step, at the start of each academic year, is to invite everyone to share which values are important to them. Each year, we discover that everyone shares the same universal values including respect, self-respect, love, honesty, peace, courage, responsibility, cooperation and compassion.
One value is adopted every two months, nurtured through role-playing, stories, dramas, games, paintings and anything else that works! Each value begins with a special assembly that demonstrates what the value means in practice and how we can all contribute to living that value in class and around school.
This month everyone's focus is on the value of responsibility and it is Mrs. Pat's KG2 Flowers class that is in front conducting assembly. They sweetly and eloquently describe their definition of responsibility! One pupil says: "Responsibility gets the job done!" Another says: "Police take bad guys to jail!" And a third says: "We can do lots of things we want, if we try, try and try!" The school Principal, Peter Williams, narrated a story about a princess who because she was irresponsible with her words would lose love and friendship. His message was simple and powerful: Think responsibly and act responsibly!
When asked what the school is all about one pupil, Yasmeen, said, "It's not about the outside, it's about the inside." What wise words from a young adult who is completely enthused about her school environment. Values allow the individual to operate from their inner beauty and so confidence, self-respect and respect for others become natural. Everyone is valued and appreciated for what they share from the inside not what they look like on the outside.
Sharing our academic success and the results of living our values within school and the wider community is celebrated at special occasions.
Thinking out of the box? is encouraged within a framework that highlights social awareness, social cooperation, mutual respect and our own spiritual integrity. Every subject and learning style is recognized and valued for its own distinctive contribution. Practical programs for parents and caregivers are offered so that the child's first and foremost teachers their parents are invited to be actively involved from the onset. "I came in just to soak up the atmosphere, said one enthusiastic parent. Can I volunteer my time?"
These special seminars are held to support the parent to continue the values-based education from home. Within an informal setting the parents and educators sit to discuss some of the common issues affecting the children in school and at home and how best they can implement the Living Values Program.
The early programs focus on the unique learning styles of each child - visual, kinaesthetic, auditory and tactile - and invite parents to work with their children to help achieve mini academic learning objectives and practical programs. The results build strong home/school links, especially with the kindergarten children, and set the foundations to help develop the noblest of personality traits in the children.
KAS also prides itself on a unique Etiquette Program. Emphasis is paid not only to nurturing the inner child, but the outer one with the initiation of manners and appropriate protocol when meeting new people, answering telephones and eating at mealtimes.
Healthy eating programs put the stress on a healthy diet and the propriety involved in preparing and eating wholesome and freshly-cooked food. The drinking of water and eating of fruit in class keeps young minds fresh, alert and healthy.
Speaking in public from the age of four builds confidence and helps children to articulate their thoughts and feelings. As a consequence the children's diction, presence and posture have improved. Their conflict-resolution skills have been greatly enhanced and they have also learnt how to accept differences in opinions whilst being sensitive and understanding towards the beliefs and ideas of other individuals.
We at KAS soon learned that nothing is perfect and that we, as individuals, are the constant as the world changes around us. We learned that how we react to change around us comes from within. As a school, we learned that it is all right to do well and all right to learn from mistakes. On one occasion a teacher was almost at their wit's end with a child who just could not understand. Another child, spotting some anger brewing up, pulled the teacher's finger and said: "Remember to live your values!"
When the school first opened, many of the children arrived with tendencies of belligerence, aggressive tone of voice, competitiveness, yet within six months, these tendencies significantly lessened. Children became happier, cooperative, emotionally content and able to articulate their feelings in a values-based atmosphere. Parents noted that their children were transferring what they had learned at school to home in, for example, eating habits and the positive use of common courtesies. "No words can express what you are doing for my child," commented one parent. "He is so happy and learning so well."
The students are keen to share the way they learn with other students who are waiting to come to the Kuwait American School. Grades 2 and 3 students were asked to give a statement about what the school was all about. Some of their comments are as follows:
KAS is respectful because it taught me peace, respect and harmony - Ghadeer, Grade 3
KAS is smart and full of happiness because they respect everybody - Anwar, Grade 2
KAS is respectful because they don't use bad words - Farah, Grade 3
KAS is love and is peaceful because she is caring for us with lovely and beautiful things - Arayana, Grade 2
KAS is lovely because we learn more, have more and it is peaceful - Kawther, Grade 2
KAS is my red heart, a good place, beautiful, the best - Hussain, Grade 2
The school was invited to the Education for All conference in Cairo to share its methodologies for nurturing children with high behavioural and academic standards. The values-based approach for learning was much appreciated and struck a chord with the participants from across the Arab world. One of the aims of Education for All for the years 2000-2015 is to re-affirm our commitment to a values-based model, and practicalities were shared and developed with Arab ministers and their representatives at UNESCO in Beirut as part of a two-day seminar presented by Living Values educators from around the world.
UNESCO invited the school to offer its 33 Quality Based Values Learning Indictors as a blueprint for Early Childhood Education. Indicators of good practice include education of the whole child, promotion of the well-being of the child, recognizing the unique contribution of each and every child, and each and every adult, and love, peace and happiness in the classroom.
Dr Rashid Al-Hammad, Minister of Education said in reference to attending a very successful concert, "I have enjoyed attending your successful concert. I am pleased with the concert organisation and directorship with all its variety of scenes and messages. The reality, truly and genuinely, expresses the outstanding sustenance and vision of KAS. I also appreciate all the great care that you have put into building the characters of the students, especially in developing their thinking powers, preparing them to cope with new trends whilst, at the same time, maintaining the highest and greatest of moral values. In that regard it is my pleasure to thank you and the school family for this honest work and to express my deep gratitude. The schools message of love, as expressed by this distinguished production contains very subtle touchings with great meaning and eternal quotations. For that I will pray to God to bring more success and blessings for you all."
Mr Salman Shatti, the Senior Adviser from the National Committee for the Support of Education, said, in relation to the school concert, "I enjoyed every single minute of it. You and your staff worked as a successful and wonderful team. Your message to spread love among all human beings reached us all in a sweet and simple way. Go ahead with this noble goal. Let me borrow Anthony Robert's words and add, Only those who have learnt the power of sincere and true love experience life's deepest joy: true fulfillment.
Peter Williams, the Principal, said, "The school offers a unique and very attractive place where children can grow, not just academically to the highest of standards, but inwardly to learn how to belong to society, how to apply what they learn to the highest of ethical and moral standards, and how to be a human being with the highest of personality characteristics. It is a great place to be a child and to learn and grow."
He continued, "The UNICEF Delors report highlighted that as people we readily learn to know and learn to do, but need to remember how to learn to belong, contribute to our world and remember how to simply be a 'human being' and not just a 'human doing'. At KAS, we seek to bring a positive difference to everyone who works at and is associated with the school by, through our example, educating how to know, to do, to belong and to be the best that we can be."
Mrs Wajeeha Al-Habib, Director of the school said, "The call of time in Kuwait is to revisit the values that are important to us. Recent events suggest that we need to re-set our moral compass and add all the inner as well as outer attractiveness to schools. The call of time is to value the treasure within us all and listen to our inner voice. It is a time when the Kuwait people and educators of the world can come together with self-determination to create a vision for Kuwait that will be a model for other members of our wider community. It is my sincere wish to invite everyone who shares this vision to co-create this reality and share in its growth."
Education at KAS provides a hard-working, values-based environment where love and peace work together to make a positive difference beginning with ourselves. Experience has shown that all our futures are determined by our thoughts therefore as we think and act, so we become.
The secret of the school 's growing success is a belief, vision and collective consciousness to want to make a positive difference to our own and all children 's lives by teaching and living from the heart and discovering our common humanity.
We invite you to visit the school to experience its unique atmosphere and to see how values education really works!
1999 - 2003
In the summer of 1999, Wajeeha Al-Habib, the Director of the American International Montessori in Kuwait, attended the Living Values Education Coordinators' Meeting and Educator Training in England. One of her fellow-participants was Peter Williams, a Deputy Headteacher from the north of England who has been at the forefront of LV activities since its inception and is a LVE trainer. Wajeeha was so deeply impressed by LVE that she invited Peter to move to Kuwait in September to be the Principal of Wajeeha's new Kuwait American School! Inspired by the potential of helping establish a new school with a commitment to values firmly at the heart of the learning community. The Kuwait American School continues to implement LVEP with wonderful results.
Peter Williams comments: "The values of honesty, trust, equal worth, co-operation, mutual respect and self esteem lie at the very heart of the Kuwait American School for three to nine year old pupils. It is a school that is interested in developing the child's intellectual and emotional achievement and especially emphasises the social awareness and spiritual integrity that will prepare children to contribute to the world community.
At the school 's very first Professional Development day, a very practically-orientated Living Values session brought all of the multinational staff together in an atmosphere of equal worth and equal value to visualise their ideal school and together set realistic but challenging goals. These goals were translated into five guiding principles as follows:
- To build our characters and be beautiful people to know;
- To learn to live the noble qualities and values we hold dear;
- To build a positive and attractive working atmosphere where hard work,
accomplishments and learning can take place without fear of ridicule or failure;
- To learn with pride and humility that it is OK to do well and OK to accept and
learn from mistakes; and
- To build an essential, strong and challenging curriculum that is designed to
recognise and bring out the best in every child.
Through Living Values, we all learnt and shared the importance of recognising and living our values, and that we show how we live our values by our attitude and behaviour towards ourselves and each other in all situations. Inviting the children to explore their own values helped to frame the character and atmosphere of the school. The children discovered what is meant to be peaceful stars and how to use their helping hands and helping voices in practical ways. When asked: 'Is there an important person who we should invite to open our new school '' the children replied with delight: 'We will open it. It's our school.'
Developing the noblest of qualities at KAS generated many conversations and meetings with parents and officials with responsibility for monitoring standards and ensuring that regulations were met. The opportunity to listen to and work together with all schools of thought helped to generate a shared vision of mutual understanding, mutual respect, openness and co-operation. After three months, the living-values-based atmosphere has created a living and learning environment where the children have come to know the difference between right and wrong, exhibit much improved work habits, show higher than expected academic attainment and especially radiate a warmth of spirit and joy of learning from their faces.
We are delighted that Living Values Education is helping to develop a holistic curriculum that captivates and celebrates the special qualities and talents within us all.
We began our year with the motto "We are all wonderfully made". Three months on, "we are all wonderfully made and together we are better"."
A Special Values Project - December 1999
Children from the Kuwait American School created "love in a shoebox". The shoebox appeal was for children who suffered in the earthquake in Turkey. Called "Operation Peace Child" children carefully chose items to send to boys and girls in the orphanages or tent cities.
The following quotations indicate how a Living Values approach to learning has been received:
Parent and Director of KAS Wajeeha:
"The Living Values Program is, for me, like finding the treasure that I have been always looking for. It made all the difference at KAS. We were fortunate enough to start the school from scratch using the Living Values program. This was wonderful. Starting a school did present us with challenges to test us from time to time, but when your ladder of success is leaned on the right wall, the wall of principles and values you hold dear ensure that the journey of success becomes the most joyful experience. With the Living Values Program, there is no place for fear, confusion or stress. Things just flow in complete harmony and the answers to questions simply spring crystal clear in front of you like a fountain of water. You can even recognise each individual drop and enjoy every bit of it. "
International visitor sent by the Kuwait Education Authority:
"No words can express the feeling, atmosphere and clear success of this school. Wherever you go you see happy, smiling faces and children learning and helping one another."
"How on the earth are you disciplining our child at the school. Before he came, we tried every way to make him behave, nothing seemed to work, and now in less than two months, the boy is totally different, very well behaved and all the values and manners are just emerging naturally from within his personality. Please, tell us your secrets!"
Member of Staff:
"I don't know what happened to me. After twenty five years of teaching experience, I used to wait for and loved weekends, and since I joined KAS, I miss the school during the weekend and I find any excuse to come to school."
"The school does not feel like a school. It feels like home. The atmosphere and warmth of the school makes my child jump out of bed wanting to come every morning."
"I have been in schools in America, Switzerland and Lebanon. The quality of education that KAS is offering is higher than any other school I have ever seen. We do appreciate everything you are doing for our children."
"When I first registered my child with your school, I liked what you were offering and the school philosophy, and I was convinced seventy % that this is the right school for my child, but after two months, I am convinced two hundred % that this the right school. From time to time, when I want my child to do something and she doesn't want to do it, all I need to say is: "You are not going to school tomorrow."
"No words can express what this school is doing for my child. He is so happy and learning so well."
"I came in early just to soak up the atmosphere. Can I volunteer my time to help."
Child aged five, talking about respect:
"All the children all over the world should be happy, free and a shining stars."
Child overheard at home looking into a mirror one month after the Respect mirror lesson:
"You are beautiful, your smile, your eyes. You are beautiful."
"A testament of a good school is that the children don't want to leave at the end of the day. They don't!"
Kuwait Ministry Supervisor/Inspector:
"What makes me pleased about this school is the credibility and the honesty they operate with. It is a school that meets its promises. They do their best to serve their students and they set their academic standards high. Thank you very much for all these efforts."
International Visitor Tsueta:
"Everytime I cross the threshold of this school, my heart starts beating in tune with the pulse of a new world the world of real knowledge, discovery and revived ethics among individuals. The young hearts of happy children, teachers and staff are a universe of serenity, love and creativity. Like the legendary phoenix bird which burnt itself to death and rose fresh and young from its ashes, so the Director of the school has inspired new virtues and wisdom in the minds of the future new people. The school challenges the prevailing outdated frameworks and heralds the dawn of new educational and cultural integrity."
Number of Sites Using Living Values Education
Total number of sites 1