Monday, September 19, 2016

Culture: Values

We have been discussing culture, and it's ingredients in here the past several days.  I give students 10 ingredients I want them to know.  They're on a bulletin board in the back of my room:

Pretty sweet, right?

Some of the ingredients are easy to understand: food, dress, language.  Others get more complicated: government, religion, ethnicity.

And certainly there are more than 10 ingredients of culture.  What about holidays?  Where do they fit?  Sports?  Should government be on there?  Or is that something that influences our culture - like geography?  I remember a time I boarded a plane at JFK International Airport in NYC.  It was snowing so hard.  I was all bundled up.  We were lucky to even make it to the airport.  And we got of the plane in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  101°.  Maybe geography should be up there...

One that trips up students every year, though, is values.  The definition I give is, "something a culture esteems as good or worthy.  Ideals they try to live up to."  That's an admittedly weak definition.

Students continually confuse values and valuables.  I just had students draw pictures for each of the ingredients of culture.  Every year I have students draw diamonds, or gold earrings for values.  ...Not what we're looking for.

So, I told students values are what you want your kids to become when they grow up.  No parent tells their kid, "today at school, I want you to be as lazy as possible.  Try to sleep in every class if you can.  We want you to live with us until you're 40."  Or "Make sure to be a bully today, honey.  Pull a kid's hair, if you get a chance.  Hopefully you'll get suspended."

We want our kids to be hard workers, honest, helpful, brave.  Trustworthy, empathetic but not whiny, genuine.  Those are values.

Students may receive extra credit if they read and discuss this blog post with an adult.  To prove that they read and discussed it, please write 5 values that the adult wants to instill in the student.  Have the adult sign the paper - proving they read and discussed.  Then, make sure the student's name, date, and hour are on it.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.

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