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Teaching Values

Copyright © 1998 by David E. Ross

Repeatedly, politicians denounce the absence of values from public school curricula. It would help if we had a universal set of values to which all moral persons subscribe. Of course, we all share some generalizations (e.g.: prohibiting murder); but specifics escape general acceptance (e.g.: killing during war, executing criminals). As adults, we really cannot agree on what moral principles we value. With this diversity of values, we cannot avoid infringing on parental rights by trying to teach values in our public schools. Yet many of those same politicians put a very high priority on the value of parental rights.

These are not cases of trying to teach values to children whose homes lack values. Instead, these are cases where teaching values could also teach disrespect for parents; this must be avoided above all else, even when a dysfunctional family prevents the opposite, the teaching of respect for parents.

Nevertheless, if we are to live peacefully with our neighbors, there are a few values that we should teach our children and practice in our adult lives:

Beyond this brief set, public schools should encourage our children to find their values outside the classroom, within their own homes and religions rather than attempt to inculcate a "one size fits all" set of values.

11 January 1998

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