The Suitcase Lady


February 2, 2016, 9:33 pm

I recently heard some pundit on National Public Radio say that we need to start teaching respect and moral values in our public schools. I started to seethe. The fallacy and intended manipulation inherent in those words is worthy of Fox News.

I have spent 50 years of my working life in hundreds of schools; public and private, rich, poor and middle class. In every school I have worked as a staff member or visiting educator, values are being taught in all classrooms on a daily basis. And private schools have not cornered the market on value based education.

I believe the reason outrageous statements about “no values” in our public school classrooms isn’t instantly challenged has an explanation. Many Americans, even parents, have never observed a class in action and many of them think teaching is easy……..anybody can do it.

There is a cure for this magical thinking. Just imagine yourself walking into any classroom, K to 12. Thirty children (or more) are in the room, plus you. Your job is to educate each and every one of them.

The children come from diverse backgrounds. The parenting skills of their families range from non existent to excellent. No education can happen in this room if you can’t establish order and respect, in other words, a moral foundation to create a small community of children working for the benefit of the individual as well as the group.

Schools teach values in order to be functioning schools. When people rant about “no values” in our public schools, they really mean “my ideology isn’t being promoted”.

The Golden Rule is the operating rule in our classrooms. Unfortunately, it is no longer the operating rule in our public discourse. Teaching children values that the society does not promote is an uphill battle. Bravo to all our teachers who keep championing fairness, decency, civility and respect.

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