What does the future hold for our grandchildren? I recently watched three of my grandchildren playing in our garden. They didn’t seem to have a care in
the world. I was moved by their sense of innate joy as they laughed and played together. A few minutes before I had been watching the news hearing
about the launching of a missile by North Korea, then Donald Trump’s response, followed by the potential difficulties for the UK after Brexit.
The news and watching the children playing got me thinking about their futures. Do they have one? I shared this with Jane, my wife, who reminded me that
the organisation I had founded, Values-based Education (VbE), is making a significant contribution to helping to create a positive future for our grandchildren.
My mood lifted, realising that there is hope for humanity.
You may ask, what is VbE? It is an educational and social movement that promotes an understanding and living of words such as respect, humility, compassion,
honesty, trust, hope, love and peace. These words are often described as universal human values, as they are found in all cultures and mainstream religions.
Although few would argue about their intrinsic value, I find that some adults detract from their healing energy by arguing about their meanings and
application in the context of their culture or society. Dogma too can cause divisions by giving specific meanings to values such as love. In my view
such semantics stops humanity being connected.
On the other hand, VbE looks for what is innately good in people and gives them a deep insight into values words; helping them to build an ethical vocabulary.
VbE schools, create an experiential values curriculum, so that the values words can be discussed and importantly experienced. During the last twenty
years numerous VbE schools worldwide have shown the tremendous benefits of values education. Pupil behaviour becomes more compassionate and altruistic.
They are more socially and globally aware. Older pupils are sensitive to ethical dilemmas and develop a quality know as self-leadership. Self, in this
context, isn’t selfish but is the essence of our humanity, our consciousness or soul. VbE schools nurture the authentic self that is the objective
observer of our thoughts and actions. One pupil described it to me as the person he liked being the most; the one who made him feel peaceful and at
VbE has seven pillars based on the acronym MIRACLE. You may find this term a strange one for me to use, as it is often associated with religion. The dictionary
confirms that the word can mean an outstanding example.
The letter M stands for modelling, which means that everyone in the school community has to aim to model the values that are chosen. This is neither simple
nor easy as none are saints! However, with deliberate practice we become better role models. Our values are seen in everyday events: I had to call
into a Burger King restaurant on a recent journey because my disabled mother-in-law urgently needed the toilet. The restaurant was closed but a young
man said he would open the disabled toilet for us. He showed so much kindness and care - a great role model.
The letter I stands for what I refer to as the Inner Curriculum (IC). Schools have an external curriculum but, in my view, the missing link is that young
people are not given a curriculum that helps them to understand and take control of their inner world of thoughts, feelings, emotions and sensations.
VbE schools naturally create an environment that supports a growing understanding of our internal world. The IC draws on a number of disciplines that
support a deeper understanding of our internal world and how we can understand and control it for the benefit of others and ourselves. These include
Interpersonal Neurobiology, Psychotherapy, the wisdom of humanity and outstanding educational practices.
R stands for reflective practices that lead to mindfulness. The next letter A draws attention to the atmosphere or ethos that is created in a VbE school.
This is predominantly calm and purposeful. C stands for the curriculum that teaches about values. Importantly L reminds us of the centrality, and importance,
of leadership at all levels in an organisation. Lastly, the letter E, which reminds us that a VbE school develops an ethical vocabulary leading to
ethical intelligence, which helps us to be compassionate and altruistic - mature humane people.
Research in Australia and my own research at Oxford showed the positive effects of VbE. Yes it does work!
Our organisation, VbE, is active in the UK and around the world bringing about a positive shift in human consciousness. Examples of its impact come recently
from Iceland, Nigeria and Sri Lanka. The VbE website www.valuesbasededucation.com is a popular site receiving between 7-10,000 hits a month.
VbE consultants work with schools and other organisations engaged in training and auditing for the values quality mark. VbE also partners other like-minded
organisations believing that change can be accelerated if information, experience and expertise are shared.
Will the future be ok for my grandchildren? I cannot be certain, but I am hopeful that together values-conscious people can make a difference by creating
a values-based society. By helping children to develop their consciousness so that they are focussed on the good of all, rather than themselves or
any particular group to which they belong. As Ken Wilbur has said, we need people to wake up (through mindfulness) and also grow-up (by passing through
the developmental stages of consciousness) to be global citizens and have an awareness that helps them to navigate the complexities of life – I think
VbE does just that.
Dr Neil Hawkes
Founder of Values-based Education (VbE)