Hot Potato: Food for Thought
Why Johnny Can't...
1997 September 05
The matter of values is simply inescapable in education. Even the decision to employ value-free education is in itself a value judgment. Given that there is not going to be widespread agreement about most value questions any time in the near future, we need to do two things.

First, we have to teach kids that survival on a small planet requires some respect for the values of others. Kids must understand that there are a myriad of different value systems out there.

Second, we need to discuss just what people's values are. This can be done using the techniques of Values Clarification (sample exercise) without teaching that any one value is right or wrong (and so avoiding the impossible question of deciding just whose values to teach). Values Clarification gets kids to talk about their values and how their behavior would be affected by their values in various hypothetical situations. These discussions are usually lively, sometimes passionate, and at least get kids to think about their own values and see how they might affect and be affected by the values of others. That is the most that we can expect, and it is enough.

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