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The JUST education section explores media literacy and education as they relate to the needs of learners attempting to interpret, react to, and affect change for their own personal development as well as for the  benefit of their respective cultures and communities.

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« How Facts Backfire | Main | What is Values-based Education? »

Tempering Knowledge with Values

Richard W. Kroon

May, 2012

At first blush, “values-based education” sounds like something that would be championed by the arch-conservative right or of interest only to faith-based institutions, but the concept is actually politically neutral and secular. Rather, it promotes the notion that education that focuses solely on imparting knowledge is incomplete and that society is better served if education also teaches universal social values, including “love, peace, respect, tolerance, forgiveness, co-existence, and non-violence.”

The real difficulty is that people have no idea of what education truly is. We assess the value of education in the same manner as we assess the value of land or of shares in the stock-exchange market. We want to provide only such education as would enable the student to earn more. We hardly give any thought to the improvement of the character of the educated. … As long as such ideas persist there is no hope of our ever knowing the true value of education. — Mahatma Gandhi

In the US, programs such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top represent “outcomes-based” or “standards-based” education, where the focus is often on academic achievement as measured by standardized testing, while values-based education takes a more holistic, if not directly measurable, approach. Sadly, as government budgets in the US continue to tighten at all levels from federal to local, educational goals contract to the “fundamentals” of reading and math, generally at the expense of music and art and often at the expense of educational diversity, including literature, history, and social studies.

Educational programs stripped bare will educate, but they will not enrich. They will turn out students with knowledge, but not necessarily students who will be beneficial members of society. A broader view to education is called for. One that enriches and nurtures the entire student with the goal of producing a well-rounded adult, such as values-based education.

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