Rationale The object of the values clarification strategy is not to teach specific values, but to make students aware of their own personally held values and of the way in which their values compare to those of friends, adults, different groups in society, and even other societies in other times. It is hoped that, as this awareness increases, students will reconsider and perhaps modify poorly founded values while, at the same time, hold more confidently values which stand the test of review and comparison. Procedures Though values clarification activities take a variety of forms, there are certain basic procedures that should be followed when using the strategy: • The teacher begins the lesson with "opening up" activities which focus on lowrisk issues. • The activities require student to indicate their position on an issue in an overt and explicit manner. • The teacher accepts student responses without judgement or evaluation and discourages any attempts by students to challenge or mock each other's position. • The students should be asked to explain or provide reasons for holding a specific value position. This is the clarification aspect of the strategy. • The activities should, whenever possible, be related to issues that have historical import or are related to current social or political concerns. Closure No assessment is really desired unless it is the observation of whether or not students share their values and possess an appropriate sense of their own values.
The classic sources for both an explanation of values clarification and a description of examples are: Raths, L.E. ,. Harmin, M., & Simon, S.B. Values and Teaching (2nd ed.),. Columbus, OH: Charles E. Merrill, 1978) Simon, S.B., Howe, L.W., & Kirschenbaum, H. Values Clarification: A Handbook of Practical Strategies for Teachers and Students. New York: Hart Publishing, 1972).
Sidney Simon’s Approach
Purpose: • • • •
Help Students identify more clearly what it is they value in specific situations. Help students realize that others may hold different but equally acceptable values. Motivates (how? why?) May be used as set induction or a closure.
Use Small Groups if Possible • This allows everyone to share. Use Warm-Up Exercises • If your students have never or rarely done a values clarification exercise, this is vital. • Warm-up consists of low risk questions: "those of you who like the beach move to one side of the room; those of you who like the mountains, move to the other side." Ask Good Questions • Don't ad-lib them; think of them beforehand. • Give students opportunities to select from alternatives. • Avoid yes-no questions because they do not lead to thought. • Ask only a few questions: four to six at the most. • Ask high risk questions only if you feel the kids are ready and only after they have had a bit of a warm-up. Sharing • • • • • Request an overt response: pointing, choosing, writing, etc. Request that students share their values unless they do not want to do so. Involve as many of the value processes as possible—choosing, prizing, etc. Remain non-judgmental: don't feel you need to straighten out kids' thinking. Offer to reveal your own values after students have chosen.
Warnings • Don't ask too many questions—let the kids reflect. • Don't ask "why" questions since they may cause students to become defensive. Better to ask: "Do you want to tell us the reasons for your choice?" • Don't moralize subtly through leading questions that have implicitly right answers. • Avoid lumping concensus decision exercises with values exercises. The idea is not to come up with a group value, but with individual values. Individual values must be considered "sacred." • Keep it simple. • Don't expect miracles from a values clarification exercise: this strategy needs to be done often, so that students will get used to the idea of identifying and sharing their own values. Sources: Sidney B. Simon, Leland W....
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