What is Values Education?

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Values are very important for the regular and healthy creation and maintenance of the social structure. The fact that all individuals forming the society have common and positive values directly affects the level of development of that society and the healthy functioning of the social structure. The fact that the society has these ideal and correct values allows it to have a more permanent place in history and to raise more successful generations. After all, it is not possible to imagine a peaceful society with only written and legal rules and no moral values. The correct transfer of these values to all members of the society is possible through education, as in all matters. The education system plays a very important role in transferring both universal and cultural values to individuals in order to create an ideal society. The successful realization of this is possible with the values education that is currently being implemented in Turkey.

At this point, the first questions that come to mind are, “What is values education?” and “How should values education be given?” has questions. Each of these questions deserves to be answered accurately and in detail. As it is known, schools, especially basic education institutions, are not only places where vocational or academic education takes place. Schools, which prepare children and young people for social life as well as for business life, also take responsibility for conveying values that will contribute to the moral development of children and ensure that their characters are solidly formed. It is possible for children to adopt and reproduce existing social and universal values through values education activities and values education project examples that are actively applied in many schools. However, before we can answer the questions we asked at the beginning, there is an important question that must be answered: What is value?

What is Value?

The concept of value is a concept that we learn at a young age and think we know its meaning very well. However, most people ask, “What is value?” cannot easily answer the question. The concept of value used within the framework of values education can be defined as “beliefs, feelings and thoughts that are accepted, adopted and transmitted by the majority of individuals forming the society and that regulate social life”. Values include all beliefs and thoughts accepted by the majority of individuals in order to ensure the healthy functioning and continuity of society. These values, which are accepted as a basic moral principle, are also accepted as criteria in evaluating the attitudes and behaviors of people socially. Concepts such as faith, respect, compassion, kindness, benevolence are accepted as some of the common values in almost all societies. The most important point about all these values is that these values are concepts that can be learned. Social values, of course, are first formed, shaped and learned in the family. The environment is also known as one of the most important factors in understanding and adopting values.

What is Values Education?

One of the main purposes of education systems in all societies, especially in developed and developing societies, is to convey to individuals the values that are accepted as correct and good by that society. Of course, one of the most important periods in terms of the education of the individuals who make up the society is the primary school age! One of the functions of primary education is to make the young members of the society adopt the values adopted and accepted as correct by the society. Of course, young children often do not have the mental competence to perceive moral concepts yet, but it is much easier to convey these moral concepts in primary school and pre-school period compared to the following years. Therefore, the values education practiced in many countries is also very important in terms of enabling students to recognize these values. So, what is the values education that has come to the fore again in recent years?

“What is values education?” The answer to the question is actually quite simple. Values education can actually be defined as a kind of character education in which all human values are comprehensively taught to students. Values education also refers to the special education program prepared by the United Nations. The United Nations celebrates its 50th anniversary in 1995 and prepares an education program known as the Living Values Education Program around these celebrations. The Let’s Share Our Values for a Better World project, prepared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known as UNESCO in short, continues to be implemented in many countries around the world, including Turkey. This international education project basically focuses on 12 universal values:

  • Love,
  • Respect,
  • Responsibility,
  • Tolerance,
  • Freedom,
  • Peace,
  • Happiness,
  • Honesty,
  • Cooperation,
  • humility,
  • Simplicity,
  • Unity.

The values education prepared by the United Nations includes many values education activities and value education project examples so that children and young people can discover these twelve main values. This is what makes this project different from other educational programs. It adopts an activity-based approach, not an indoctrination method, to convey these universal values to students. Values education, which offers many materials for students from different age groups and their teachers, started to be implemented in all primary and secondary schools in 2010 with the circular issued by the Ministry of National Education Board of Education and Discipline.

Values Education in Preschool

Pre-school values education includes practices in kindergartens and kindergartens. This training, which is generally implemented with activities such as values education board and values tree, also includes communication lessons. Preschool values education, in which tolerance, love, respect, frugality, honesty and many similar values are taught, is implemented in a fun way with the Values Education Board created together with the students. In the tree of values, a large tree figure is prepared from colored paper and basic values such as love and tolerance are written on each leaf of the tree. The importance of these values is conveyed to children with examples from our daily lives.

Preschool values education also includes communication lessons and many applications related to daily life are made in these lessons. In communication classes, a new value and concept is determined every month. For example, the value of tolerance is chosen as a concept for the month of September and all activities of that month are organized with the aim of conveying and adopting the value of tolerance. The theme of October is frugality, the theme of November is love, and the theme of December is freedom. Each month is spent focusing on these values. In preschool values education, the following basic values are given priority:

  • Respect for self and others
  • Don’t be thrifty
  • Respecting the rights and freedoms and thoughts of others,
  • The importance of being an honest person,
    analytical thinking,
  • Creative and critical thinking,
  • Solidarity,
  • Protecting nature and the environment, keeping it clean.

How Should Values Education Be Given?

Values education is of great importance for the development of healthy communication skills of children and young people. Thanks to the proper implementation of this training program, students learn much better what they should pay attention to both in expressing themselves in the lessons and when communicating with each other. As a result, it is known by everyone that the main purpose of education is to make individuals adopt universal values from a young age. The fact that this education program takes basic values such as tolerance and cooperation as the content of the course ensures that the values that keep the society alive are adopted much better. The main objectives of values education are as follows:

  • To provide the society with individuals of decent character,
  • To consolidate the main values of the society and the country,
  • To ensure that students learn basic values in accordance with their social and cognitive development levels,
  • To enable children to reflect these basic values to their attitudes and behaviors in a healthy way,
  • To allow these values to be reinforced with family and environment.

So, how should values education be given to the generations that determine the future of society? The values education program carried out by the Ministry of National Education is basically handled in three contexts:

  • Classroom Activities,
  • In-School Activities,
  • Family Activities.

These values education activities are handled in a way that complements each other. The Values Education Commission, which should implement the activities, includes teachers from different branches, guidance teachers, principals, assistant principals and members of the school parent union. The commission creates an activity plan by taking the values education activities and activity plan prepared by the Ministry of National Education as an example. Activities for each class and age group are determined. These activities are implemented under the leadership and supervision of the guidance teachers. While applying values education, it is possible to list the most efficient methods as follows:

  • Discussion and debate,
  • Educational techniques centered on the student,
  • Group work,
  • Creative drama,
  • Research groups,
  • Education oriented games.

Group work-based values education activities enable students to perceive the universal values that are aimed to be adopted in an interactive way. This education, supported by artistic activities, is also much more effective for children with different interests.

Subjects of Values Education

The subjects of values education determined by the Ministry of National Education are as follows:

Love, responsibility, respect, tolerance, sensitivity, self-confidence, empathy, fairness, courage, leadership, being kind, friendship, cooperation, solidarity, cleanliness, truthfulness, honesty, giving importance to family unity, being able to think independently and freely, optimism, aesthetic feelings development, hospitality, patriotism, doing good, industriousness, sharing, compassion – compassion, greeting, humility, protecting cultural heritage, self-sacrifice.