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Report finds values education disastrous


The current direction of values education in New Zealand is potentially disastrous, says ‘Kids Adrift’, a report for the Maxim Institute by author Paul Henderson.

In an in-depth look at changes in the values education curriculum since 1993, Henderson asks whether the values and methods used to teach kids values are capable of meeting the demands of society in the twenty first century. Kids Adrift finds that they are not.

Mr Henderson says, “What was designed to bring about peace and cohesion through values language and education is in real danger of creating new levels of confusion.

“In the interests of promoting tolerance in the curriculum educators have embraced pluralism. While that is not a bad thing in itself, values education has gone a step further, saying that all values are equal and insisting that moral claims are all relative.”

In the process, Mr Henderson says, educators have stripped values of their context and bled them of meaning and authority.

“The problem is that society cannot tolerate everything. We are now at the point where it is almost impossible to say what should not be tolerated. And this creates contradictions in the classroom and in the rule of law. “Children are left without a foundation for right or wrong. This is leading to greater confusion, apathy and cynicism. There is an absence of any passionate commitment and instead a polite sterility.” The central finding of Kid’s Adrift is that values need anchorage and should reflect and reinforce parental and community beliefs. It recommends that schools find and teach common values within our diverse traditions and communities. Former Headmaster of Auckland Grammar, John Graham, says Kids Adrift starkly reveals the forces that shape the way values are taught in New Zealand schools.

“Parents will be disturbed to see to what degree our children are being sold short by an education system which no longer understands how to form character, and in which any and every value has equal status.

“Henderson’s recommendations to turn the situation around need to be looked at seriously,” says Mr Graham.

Paul Henderson is a graduate of Aberdeen and Cambridge Universities. He has taught in Africa, Europe and Asia. A summary report is available for media, along with the full 99 page report on request.

For more information and comment contact: Scott McMurray, Maxim Institute Tel. (09) 627 3261 or 027 222 1174

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