Educare for Children

We Need to Learn to Live Together

"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children." - Mahatma Gandhi

More and more teachers and parents are concerned with finding consistent and practical educational programmes in line with the changes that are taking place, transforming the world around us. Never as before have children been exposed to and influenced by sensorial and technological stimuli as today. Never as before have parents felt the need for guidance and teachers the need to re-create and restore the nobility of their role in society. These are times of uncertainty and upheaval, in which our social paradigms are being revolutionised, and our reference points shaken. Times in which people need to find something stable within themselves to turn to and believe in. More so children and young adults.

The growing need that is taking shape is all-round, and seems to be pointing at a reassessment of our lives, by reorganising them together (CommUnity). An issue that cannot be tackled if not within a socio-educational context that concerns parents and teachers, home and school alike.

Would a value-based approach to education be a way to reach the heart of the matter? Could we make a shift by cultivating right human relations and promoting ethical awareness and harmonious cohabitation, directly in class? Would it be conceivable to include among academic aptitudes and competence, life-skills such as the ability to foster ‘unity in diversity’ and ‘inner peace’?

Consistent and Coherent Living

To live together, respecting differences of tradition, religion and culture, working as a world unit to protect and care for one another and the Earth, our home, seems to be the direction towards which the current world events are leading. It implies questioning ourselves on our sense of values and reinforcing especially those that bring us together. To do so we need to work collectively but also individually. We need to check our consistency with the values we deem important and essential to good living and to deepen our understanding with respect to these values. But before this we need to learn to know and understand ourselves better, to acknowledge our shortcomings and transform them, in order to consciously contribute to the growing world community by simply becoming ‘better people’.

The object of this section is based on the above considerations and geared for parents, teachers and children. It proposes a set of materials as support and practical examples as to how human values can be fostered at home or in the classroom. But teaching tools are only part of the process. Let’s remember how important it is to set ones priorities and become mindful and aware of the need for consistency, though it is equally important to find creative and practical ways to awaken and make the values ‘visible’ for the child.

Practical Advice

When we focus on human values we discover that daily life offers manifold opportunities to practice them. We can cultivate them by playing with values, too. Here’s a game everyone loves: Pick a value.

Pick a Value” is an activity for everyone, children and adults, and is of enormous educational impact, owing especially to the fact that it triggers inner listening, which in itself fosters a deeper understanding of the meaning of the chosen value, and, as a consequence, a more authentic and effective practice of the same. What is most important is to pick a value ourselves and to become familiar with this practice before we ask our children or students to do so. Pick a value, from a bunch of values that you have written down and placed in a basket, and give yourself a week, a month, a semester, to meditate on its meaning, uplift your awareness and improve your practice.

Later, together with your children or students, make lots of colourful values and a value treasure box or value basket. Inspire them to be creative and to make each value precious and special. While you work together you will have plenty of time to elaborate on human values, their importance in life and in your relationship with yourselves and one another. Songs, stories, articles and games can all be used to foster further group discussion and sharing.

“Pick a value” can be carried out both as an individual and a group activity. In its simplicity it is greatly enriching and helps us learn to ‘live with the values’, so that they are always present in whatever we think, say and do.