Education is for Knowledge not Values

I listened this interview about education on the way into work today, and there’s a lot to latch onto in here. The discussion provides many useful debate starters, and I found myself on either end of the spectrum for most of the opinions expressed, agreeing with a majority.

Honestly, many of the points made (especially by the host) are supported by a flimsy “things are different from when I was growing up”, and then an implied “…therefore it’s bad.” More often however, I found myself agreeing with the guest speaker. Here are a few points she touches on:

  • Kids/students/people should learn knowledge, not values from an educational system
  • Elementary schools shouldn’t teach things like good eating and sex ed
  • Grades and credentials vs learning
  • Parents need to teach kids values, and shouldn’t be stuck with teaching things like math and science to their kids
  • Kids need to be allowed to do things, challenged and given responsibility

I struggle with this last one – I want to keep my own kids little forever. But, I know I can’t.

I sometimes write on here about the school system that my daughter and son attend, I hold back a lot of my opinions though because, well it’s just not worth it to complain so much. Paraphrasing Joanna Williams in the video: in these schools parents are commonly put in the position that if they complain about (or, even, don’t comply with) value based initiatives they run the risk of making their kids stand-out on behalf of their own opinions. Unfortunately, this makes ‘voicing opinions’ not a worthwhile mindset for a parent to be in much of the time.

One thing I’ve learned, is that despite how much they insist they want to hear from parents, schools and boards of education don’t want to hear from them unless it’s on their terms.

Anyway, the other thing I did want to say about this video is that all of the comments Joanna makes about “eating right” hit so close to home. Schools are terrible at teaching kids good eating habits. Yet, for some reason, they seem so dead set on taking up this cause. It’s simply not needed. Their “healthy hunger” lunch program that features Little Caesars Pizza, Opa, Subway, and all other sorts of fast food places, isn’t needed. Their gym classes that ban running, isn’t needed. And they’re constant fundraising that try to sell us discounted pizza, isn’t needed.

It’s difficult not to undermine the authority of our kids’ schools when they constantly take up the teaching of values at the expense of knowledge, and then turn around and sell those values off to local businesses in the name of education.

One thought on “Education is for Knowledge not Values

  1. I appreciated your post and candid thoughts, Glen. The interview did offer many debate starters. I liked how Ms. Williams shared how she worked through some of the things (challenge to values) that her daughter experienced at school. It can be a tough balance… ie “not singling out” your child, but still standing for what your family values. I remember the juggle well and I don’t miss that (now that our children our out of the K-12 system). Like Ms. Williams referred to… I would have many, many conversations with my children over the years. They would often be the ones to bring up something that didn’t “sit” right with them, so maybe that was the influence of our values, or maybe just a good sense of what is respectful.

    I think it is always a good reminder to schools and teachers about the value aspect of what is taught or modelled. It might also be good to expect that parents will need to be engaged and informed and want to be heard. I often had questions about sex education in the curriculum, but I think as long as parents are informed about what and when topics are being covered it should help decision-making and discussion. In Ontario, the curriculum has changed a lot since mine were in school. My oldest stated she wished there had been more about “consent” and respect in relationships instead of just the “how not to get pregnant or a STD” focus she recalls. I often wonder how well teachers are prepared to teach all that is expected to be covered now. How much does covering nutrition really help, for example? I think the home influence and situation will always have more impact in choices. Ontario recently developed a nutrition policy for schools and that led to much conversation! It also affected fundraising initiatives, but that part didn’t bother me 🙂

    The areas of teaching and parenting sure overlap in our current times, I guess. The influence of each on the other is always interesting… and parents are often left without a clear avenue to address concerns.


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