In This Issue
Issue Number Thirty Six
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News and Success Stories from Around the World
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Welcome to the thirty-sixth issue of Living Values e-News, the electronic newsletter of the Association for Living Values Education International.
ALIVE President’s Message
This message from Pilar Quera, the Association for Living Values Education’s President, is available in both English and Spanish: “Every month when I look back and see all the courses, seminars and meetings organised all over the world and receive the news of their impact, I can feel the beauty of the commitment is of every single person who has decided to ‘live life to the fullest’. Such sources nurture us with their examples and inspire us with their authority. We can see and hear through genuine living practices and examples that change is possible. The proof is in how it is done, how it is seen and how it is lived. Sometimes in teaching, a person can be technically efficient, but educators today are those people who reach children’s hearts, people’s hearts, because their behaviour is full of love, respect, creativity and inclusion.
What is nurturing us? The principles and values that emerge from this practice. We can see how they strengthen our behaviour, our way of thinking about life. We can then see how our minds are nurtured. And when critical moments arrive, we are asking ourselves what would be the answer in images or words or a particular action. We keep in mind resources we have a right to such as ‘serenity’, ‘happiness’ and ‘strength’ and we have learnt their colours and shape. These memories, which honour peace, go hand in hand with us in practical life, and by doing so, we become people who do not just talk about values but are valuable.
Another aspect I can outline on rereading all the experiences shared are the common goals:
Thus, I would like to thank you for your continuing search for different ways to get to know the action of learning itself. Thank you for helping develop a mental attitude able to cope with global problems which contributes not only to contextualising small things on a partial and local basis, but also to viewing personal problems from different perspectives. Thank you for believing in the oneness and diversity of the human condition, for understanding the concept of inter-solidarity. Through the example, you pour small certainties in this ocean full of doubts and make navigation possible. It is a huge change in our way of thinking. These are the real ethics of well-being. And I would like to thank you the most for reflecting on the need to question whether the result of our actions corresponds to what we want for ourselves, for society and for the planet.
Your contributions also make global discussions possible. To discuss means to talk about the world that surrounds us, to dialogue means to talk about the world we represent. Thus, we form part of a big global family. Being these narrators today, the real tellers of dreams come true, makes our way forward easier. We are eager to receive your news that the world reads with happiness, gratitude and hope.
Congratulations for always being the poets in the education process. We can cry but never surrender. Congratulations for being the people who can see what others cannot. You recognize the treasure hidden in the rustic stones of people’s hearts. In sum, congratulations for your existence in time, a time that urges us to put things in order and to reconcile. Every day is an opportunity to practice!”
“Cada mes cuando veo la cantidad de cursos, seminarios, encuentros que suceden en todo el mundo, cuando recibimos las noticias del impacto de éstos, siento la belleza del compromiso de cada una de las personas comprometidas en ‘vivir la vida de la forma más plena’.
Éstas son las redes que nos nutren con el ejemplo y la practica e inspiran con autoridad. Vemos y oímos de forma auténtica los ejemplos vivientes de que el cambio es posible. Lo descubrimos a través de cómo se hacen, cómo se dicen, cómo se vive. A veces una persona en la docencia puede ser técnicamente eficiente, pero las personas educadoras para hoy son aquéllas que llegan al alma de los niños, niñas, de las personas, porque su comportamiento está lleno de amor, respeto, creatividad e inclusión.
¿Qué nos nutre? Pensar acerca de los principios y valores que toman vida en estas prácticas. Vemos como éstas fortalecen nuestro comportamiento, nuestra forma de pensar la vida. A través de ello observamos cómo nutrimos la mente. Luego en los momentos críticos nos retorna la sensación de cómo sería una respuesta considerada en la forma de una imagen o una palabra o un acto preciso. Recordamos ‘serenidad’, ‘alegría’, ‘fuerza’ como recursos por derecho propio, cuyas formas y colores hemos aprendido. Estos recuerdos honrados en la paz, nos acompañan en la práctica. Y al hacer esto nos convertimos en personas que no hablan acerca de los valores, sino que son valiosas.
Otro aspecto que observo al releer todas las experiencias son estas metas comunes:
Así que detrás de todo ello gracias por estar siempre buscando maneras de conocer el propio acto del conocimiento, por ayudar a desarrollar una actitud mental capaz de abordar problemas globales que ayudan a contextualizar las cosas pequeñas parciales y locales, hasta llegar a las personales con estas diferentes miradas, por creer en la unidad y la diversidad de la condición humana, por entender el concepto de intersolidaridad. De dar fuerza a través del ejemplo para poder navegar dentro del océano de las incertidumbres a través de las pequeñas certezas Una gran reforma de las mentalidades. La verdadera ética del pensar bien. Y sobre todo por reflexionar sobre ‘saber’ si el resultado de nuestras acciones se corresponde con lo que querríamos para nosotros mismos, para la sociedad y para el planeta.
Aportaciones que también nos ayudan a dialogar desde las diferentes partes del mundo. Conversar es hablar sobre el mundo que nos rodea, dialogar es hablar sobre el mundo que somos. Entendemos así que formamos partes de esta gran familia mundial. Ser estos narradores, hoy, los verdaderos contadores de sueños hechos realidad, nos hace fácil el camino. Seguimos esperando vuestras noticias que el mundo lee con alegría, gratitud y esperanza.
Felicidades por ser estas personas poetas en el proceso de la educación, podemos llorar, pero jamás desanimarnos. Las que intentan ver lo que otras personas no ven. Entrever el tesoro enterrado en las rústicas piedras del corazón de las personas. En unas pocas palabras, por estar en el tiempo, un tiempo que nos llama a este acto de ordenar y de reconciliar. ¡Cada día tenemos una oportunidad para practicar!”
Many teachers around the world have used the songs in Living Values Activities for Children Ages 3-7 book as poems as they did not have the music. You may now download the songs free of charge as a gift from ALIVE. All of the songs go with specific values lessons in the book. Enjoy!
In 2007, Ingrid Schrijnemaekers, a LVE Trainer in Brazil, was touched by an interview on TV that mentioned witch-accused children (WAC) in Angola. This August, she visited some of these children in Angola and did some LVE activities with them. She shares her story: “It was sad to think of children being accused and banned from society. Apparently, there are many reasons why this happens, but it seems these children are usually boys. Is it because the girls can help at home with cooking and cleaning? Boys are sometimes blamed for a family’s problems, such as lack of money, or are blamed of being evil because of bad behavior. Touched by their story, from that moment onwards, I established a personal goal to help these kids.
In August of 2009, my friend Islida Silva and I had the opportunity to go to Uige in Angola and visit these kids. There are many more orphanages I suppose. It was a six-hour trip, 317 km from Luanda. There we spent two days with a Catholic community and NGO called Leigos para o Desenvolvimento, based in Portugal. Isilda´s sister spent one year there two years ago, it is now the seventh year of this Mission.
The Leigos para o Desenvolvimento NGO carries out teaching activities for mothers and children with classes such as art, sewing, cooking and computer classes, along with what they call “lessons for life”. Students pay 200 Kwanzas, equivalent to a little more than US $2 per month. The Witch-accused children have reinforcement classes in addition to their regular study.
We spent the afternoon with these Witch-accused kids and based on LVE worked on creating an environment of respect. We spent a long time talking and listening to them. It was interesting to note that they liked to tell stories but the stories did not make sense and never ended; they only wanted attention, nothing else. After a harmonious environment was established we worked with two values: love and forgiveness. They talked freely of forgiving themselves and their family. One boy shared that at that time he was terrible, but his family hurt him. Another said that his mother would visit him. I asked if he would like to go back to live with his family and he said no. He now had a new family, this home. We could feel how hurt he was.
Later we sat around a table and the boys started talking about their dreams. We asked what they would like to do and they mentioned professions such as being a teacher or an engineer. At that moment, we felt it was important to find a model to give strength to their dreams. We explored some stories and they talked about a boy, now 20 years old, who used to live in that house. He went to the army and now was going to work as a policeman to earn money and pay for university. This story seemed to be something possible that could serve as an example.
The afternoon with these kids was wonderful and helped our understanding about their feelings of being accused and expelled from society a little more. The picture is not totally clear, more work needs to be done, but the sparkle of love, the flame is there.
Two weeks after visiting these kids, I had the opportunity to meet Adão Gomes de Andrade, from the province of Bengo, city of Nambuangongo, now 30 years old, living in Luanda. He was a witch-accused child. When Adão was a kid, his father was the first one in the family to be accused of being a witch, and subsequently his mother and he were also accused. His family used to go to a church, and after some time his sister moved on to another church. They used to help the priest of the church, but life wasn´t easy at that time. The priest of the new church accused Adão´s family of being a witch family. They would torture him with a strange liquid which would make him throw out all liquids out of his body. They would put him in a hole and fill it with water, all in the name of expelling demons from his body. When this happened the former priest would say that justice would be made here on earth and did nothing to protect this family. Once his sister arrived with his nephew and said, “You ate his soul now eat the body,” and threw her sick child into the house. Her child had malaria and needed considerable care. The “witch family” took care of him, took him to the hospital and their nephew finally recovered.
Adão’s father was in the war and had the right to receive a US $3000 pension from the government. For fifteen years the family hesitated to be in contact with this witch-accused family. However, it was interesting to learn that after the father started receiving the war pension the relatives started to talk to the family again and visit their house.
Apparently witch-accused children are victims of society. How can somebody accuse an innocent child of being “possessed”? And, if that is or were so, why not help them with love and tender care?
Spiritual witchery against somebody is work called “macumba” and in Angola this is something serious. We learned of another case in which an employee of a big company had a 40-day respite, with a doctor´s excuse, because he had “symptoms of macumba effects”. He went back to work after the excused respite. Being witch-accused seems to me to be worse than being a war victim in which you lose your family, as you are rejected by all of society.
The government in Angola takes care of these children, putting them in a “home” or type of orphanage. But who take cares of their spiritual and psychological needs? For now, orphanages are a solution for many problems and I feel LVE could aid these kids with a values-based atmosphere, activities and structured program. We gave Leigos para o Desenvolvimento some of the LVE resources. Since time was short and maybe another opportunity will not be available soon, we agreed on having a group prepare and organize workshops for October/November 2009. This present group will go back to Portugal and a new group will take over at the end of the year and hopefully begin implementing LVE with these children.”
Portuguese speakers may wish to access the YouTube video on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV7aKgSQiFM.
Instituto Vivendo Valores, Brazil’s national LVE association and an ALIVE Associate recently launched a book in Portuguese introducing research and educational practices related to human values in the school environment. The reports are the result of pedagogical and investigative activities related to Living Values Education in Brazil. Titled: Education and Human Values in Brazil: Pathways, Paths and Records of Living Values in Education, the organizers are Paulo Sérgio Barros and Raimundo Nonato Júnior. This book features articles by Diane Tillman, Paulo Sérgio Barros, and Raimundo Nonato Júnior, along with educators from many parts of Brazil. The book was launched during the Ibero-American Meeting on Living Values in Education, 17-19 July 2009, in Canela-RS, Brazil.
Special thanks to Mechi Hernandez, director of basic education with the Ministry of Education of the Dominican Republic, Eric Gomez from CRS and Alexandra Santelises from Flacso for their cooperation and enthusiasm in making these workshops a success.
The first LVE workshop in Haiti took place in Port-au-Prince July 29 through August 1, thanks to the cooperative efforts of Dr. Walters Samah, Focal Point for LVE in Cameroon, the Children's Voice Foundation in Haiti, the national LVE associations in the USA and Mexico, the LVE Team in the Dominican Republic and the Brahma Kumaris of Santo Domingo. Vivien Von Son, the President of the national LVE association in Mexico and a lead LVE Trainer, conducted a four-day training program for 46 volunteers who work for the Children’s Voice Foundation (CVF). The CVF works with 800 volunteers who together reach over three million children in Haiti who have some form of need: transport to school, clothing, food, etc. Participants described the workshop as transforming, enriching, sharing, harmony, wonderful, support, peace, simplicity and humility.
The LVE team in the Dominican Republic extends: “Many thanks to Dr. Walters Samah, Diane Tillman and Helen Sayers who made all the contacts and inspired the whole program to take place. Very special thanks to Exantus John Lee Crosby and Beaubrun Gary, president and vice-president of the Children's Voice Foundation and their whole team, for their hard work, spirit of selflessness and volunteerism and their continuing enthusiasm to bring this type of information and training to Haiti. The work you do is invaluable and rekindles the belief in human greatness. And many thanks to Vivien Von Son for her lightness and dedication.”
Malaysia’s Focal Point for LVE, Mrs. Shahid Abdul Samad reports a busy year for the Living Values Team there. They have conducted four LVE Educator Trainings and one TTT covering both East (Borneo) and West Malaysia. 321 preschool teachers and assistant teachers successfully attended the workshops in the states of Perak, Kelantan, Pulau Pinang and Sarawak. These trainings are part of an effort to train all preschool teachers from the Unity Kindergartens so that preschoolers and their teachers can benefit from a conducive and positive learning environment. Similar workshops were conducted in 2006 and 2007 in the state of Negeri Sembilan and in Kuala Lumpur key teacher trainers were selected to attend the program.
Mrs. Abdul Samad shares: “In April 2009, LVEP Malaysia took part in the National Values Education Conference in Canberra Australia. Shahida was invited to conduct two workshops at the conference where participants were able to get a flavor of LVEP and the process of the trainings that we conduct.
In November 2009, LVEP Malaysia assisted our sister organization, LVEP Indonesia, in conducting the LVEP Train the Trainer workshop for representatives from NGOs from all over Indonesia.
In 2010 we plan to deepen our existing efforts with the kindergartens by emphasizing the importance of implementing as many values activities as possible as well as educating parents about the program.”
A few of the Malaysian teachers and trainers share their experience:
“As the director of the State of Johor and now the State of Penang, I was pleasantly surprised by the change that was brought about in my two teacher trainers who attended the LVEP training conducted by Shahida. Not only did they both win the 1st and 3rd prize at the National Level for the best kindergarten in Malaysia, but just going and visiting their kindergartens is truly a living example of peace and love of a teacher who unconsciously has created it through her positive role model and skills acquired at this program.”
“Besides being a teacher trainer I also work closely with the community, especially the Jiran Wanita as well as the police. At one of my training session, I applied the techniques I learnt from LVEP and the person most impressed by my approach in introducing values, was the Bilal of the local mosque. Being a non-Muslim, I felt so inspired that this program can transcend racial and religious beliefs and can bring us to see the good in all humankind. The women in the community are asking for more values courses.”
“Before LVEP, I hated myself and my life. I never felt appreciated. After practicing the skills I learnt, my life is now calm and peaceful. I am happier and grateful for what I have – my family, my career and my friends. I now share this LVEP knowledge when I conduct trainings. I am touched by the stories I hear. I now realize how beautiful life is! Let’s not destroy it.”
For more, please click on the Malaysia home page.
Two one-day workshops were conducted in August and September of 2009 on “Brain-based Learning, Emotional Quotient and Living Values Educational Program.” The first was on 8 August at the Kindergarten Teachers Association in Bangkok and was conducted by Trish Summerfield and Assistant Professor Prapa V. Rungruangsr. The second was on 12 September and was conducted by Associate Professor Dr. Patcharaporn Panyawuttikrai in Lopburi province. The workshops gave the opportunity for 130 educational officials and key teachers working with students at pre-primary, primary and secondary education levels from public and private educational institutions from different parts of the country to better understand values and values-based education, so that they can find ways to integrate values into their existing curriculum and test the ideas, methods and resources presented to them.
As brain-based learning and emotional quotient are the current issues of interest in the curricular and extra-curricular arrangement, Living Values Education was introduced as an integral part of the learning process to enhance emotional intelligence development in individual learners. The contents of the workshops included values awareness, values-based learning activities, samples of materials and evaluation. The workshops ended with question and answer sessions and reflections by participants. The teachers felt they were well-equipped with tools to re-construct the child friendly learning environment based on values at their schools and communities as they were now fully aware that children learn what they live.
Dr. Hawkes, an international values-education consultant shares on the importance of values education and research that validates the need and benefits.
Click here to listen
9. Raising Learning Potential and the Value of Forgiveness
What are the factors that lower learning potential? Resources, Teaching content and methodology all play their part, but what of the part played by values? Can you measure a value? Consider two examples.
Example 1: Identifying the limiting factor for learning potential
650 students, parents and leaders in a 45 first language Primary School and community in London were surveyed on their values. The purpose of the survey was to detect any potentially limiting factors that would reduce the learning potential of the students.
Twenty statements were prepared that asked three questions:
One of the key outcomes showed that 400 respondents said they were honest, 400 saw honesty all the time and 600 wanted to see more honesty. Through an appreciative inquiry approach, the potentially limiting factor for the school community was lack of honesty. The Living Values theme of Honesty became the theme for 6 weeks. It transpired that a misinterpretation of translation and language caused a feeling of dishonesty. With trust established, learning standards began to rise.
Example 2: Raising educational standards
In the same school in 2004, a controlled experiment was conducted under the direction of observers from the local education authority, independent assessors from a university and reviewed by the then UK government innovation unit.
Because of ‘language’ difficulties, the school and national expectations for students of Pakistani origin was one level below the level 4 national average. The aim was to achieve mastery for these students above expectation at level 5. One class of students received standard teaching and a control group of students followed a specially adapted program involving working with students in their homeland. An atmosphere of love, values, respect, understanding and security, according to the Living Values Education model, was nurtured for both groups but especially nurtured for the control group and fuelled by a ‘can do’ attitude of positivity. The British Council and the local Education Action Zone funded the program and supported visits by teachers to come to England and for teachers to travel to Pakistan. Technology supported the links.
The results were as follows:
After the controlled experiment
Would the same survey and adaptation of learning programs help students in a different country? The same survey was translated into Arabic and given to the 124 Grades 2 to 5 Kuwait American School community in 2004.
The results were very unexpected. Why? The students, like the students in London were honest and saw honesty around them all the time. However, an additional value response of forgiveness called for an additional interpretation. The students said that they were forgiving, saw forgiveness around them but asked for more forgiveness. Forgiveness from what? Where was the source of blame and shame associated with forgiveness?
The students were asked about the source. What was the school doing to create a call for forgiveness? Our assumptions could never have been further from the truth. The students, in a land effected by two recent wars, simply wished for the adults to forgive one other so that they could get on with their lives! Innocence is very close to truth.
Putting Values to the Test
In 2005, the Kuwait American School was subject to a ‘lock down’ during a terrorist incident in the very near locality to the school. The students and staff passed their time in the corridors. Parents were not able to approach the school, and like the staff, were concerned for the welfare of the students. To help debrief the students and to help release tensions, the Living Values Education team prepared a special program for the students. Students sat in a circle with puppet on a stick held in their hands facing the ‘bad guy’ in the centre of the circle. Each student was invited to share what they wanted to say or to ‘pass’ if they wished. Again, the comments surprised the educators – the children forgave the ‘bad guy’ and asked him to learn to be friends. The incident put living our values to the test. Again, innocence opened a simplistic answer complemented by the adults with older wisdom.
As education leaders – what do we choose – assuring academic success alone or looking differently with values to raise learning potential and the quality of life?
Is the ‘Call of Time’ and the Quest for ‘Education for All’ calling for a re-visioning of education based on personal identity and integrity. Without values – what is education for?
10. Time for Me
Education leaders give of themselves and sometimes leave nothing for themselves. Education leaders are heroes and heroines and cannot do anything but give. One of the greatest gifts of a leader is their presence with their support, therapeutic word, guidance and especially knowing when to give time to themselves. It is essential that educators find time for themselves.
The metaphor of the three rings suggests how to achieve balance.
Achieving the balance is a never-ending pursuit. ‘Time for me’ is essential.
Each of the 10 issues carries a different meaning for each leader and institution according to context and circumstance. The Living Values Education approach to leadership helps to address each of the issues practically. The outcome is high quality learning based on a foundation of values. The process takes time, knowledge and empowering what is already there.
Leading with Living Values is natural and authentic. It builds a curriculum based on values, ethics and the all important moral compass. It invites an equality of contribution and recognition of the inherent dignity and worth of all.
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To contact the ALIVE Associate or Focal Point for LVE in your country, please refer to the LVE website’s Support Near You page.
For countries without ALIVE Associates or Focal Points for LVE, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask your questions or make comments about Living Values Education: