Yesterday I had the chance to take part in a “values clarification” exercise. This is a system of moral education (more like a therapy) that is used in many classrooms and embedded throughout our curriculum. Our professor labeled three walls in the classroom with “agree,” “disagree,” and “unsure.” After setting out rules and creating a respectful environment, he proceeded to ask us some morally loaded questions and we moved to the wall that represented our answers.
I appreciated the intent of this exercise, and it forced me to critically think about how my value system will effect my students and classroom environment. However, I found it really hard to bite my tongue and not pass judgement on other pre-service teachers for the things they said while defending their positions. Issues surrounding bullying, homophobia, and anti-oppressive education tended to result in the whole class against one or two individuals. Now that I know how these people feel, I cant help but to think that if in the future they were my childs’ teacher, I would be doing everything I could to find a different school for my family.
So as I begin to think about the application of values clarification exercise in the classroom, I can’t help but wonder the consequences it might have. I believe in the importance of risk taking, but an exercise so personal could have devastating effects and cause conflict between students. On the other hand, it holds so many benefits as we are forced to critically examine our selves and our value system….. Just by googling values clarification exercises you will give hundreds of results. But do they have a place in my classroom? I am standing under the “unsure” sign at this point… What about you?