Education is much more than learning to read, write and operate a computer. Today, more and more roles that used to be the responsibility of the family are being thrust onto the school. This makes it even more important that the school delivers on values and either reinforces the family values or builds the bridge to cover the gap in values transmission for our students.
When I began teaching over 30 years ago, the typical family participated in the transmission of values and character building. Unfortunately, in many cases today, parents are confused about the transmission of values. They are often not sure how or why to set standards.
Another issue today is that many of the values of our students come from multimedia and the internet, not from their families. We have to combat the negative values that much of their interactive environment promotes. Thus Adventist education is trying to provide stability and respect in a world where this is a not a given for many adolescents.
Adventist education deliberately seeks to inculcate Christian values. Values transmission is part of our core business, and is a non-negotiable. In fact, our schools are so concerned with values delivery that if students refuse to support the same values, we will probably question their retention at the school.
I remember talking to a single mum about our concerns over her daughter who had newly enrolled at our school. The mum broke down in tears as she reflected on how hard it was to inculcate values when her daughter’s previous peers had so much more influence. She was hoping we could perhaps do what she had failed to do. Sadly we never had the chance as her daughter was not interested in changing values and made some choices that meant we had to part company.
That is part of the values transmission dilemma. We have to balance the opportunity to make positive changes in value systems with the negative impact students may be having on peers. While we believe firmly in the God of the second chances, we must be very conscious of maintaining the integrity of a strong and viable Christian values system in order to transmit the best values possible.
Jill came from a dysfunctional home. Mum was a prostitute. Over 15 months in our school, she made a dramatic transformation. She spent time with the chaplain. She changed her friends because she wanted something better and she took control of her own actions. But most of all she wanted God in her life, as she saw that was what made the difference. Ultimately it was God’s values that made the difference – we were simply His hands and feet to convey the Good News.
This article is the eighth in a series of ten articles on the unique characteristics of Adventist education. Another article in the series will be published every other Thursday. To view all articles in this series, along with other articles by this author, click here: Articles by David McClintock.
Note: Article written and posted in Australian English.