The Project Waarden & Normen was initiated by the Dutch Minister of Education to provide students and teacher educators tools for professional development.
The web site Waarden & Normen intents to link together students, educators, scholars, and citizens who want to share their views and work, and learn more about research, practices and activities in the area of moral development and education.
Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
[published in 1997]
Children can sometimes react very keenly to moments in a lesson when values are at issue. They need no jargon to do so, but simply formulate what they think. For example:
'But Miss, I thought I could say what I think of it!'
'It didn't matter what you thought of it, the teacher agreed with everyone. What are you going to learn from that?'
These are statements by children, commenting on the lesson with trainee teacher Petra. The 'De Bus' demo CD-Rom shows lesson fragments in which Petra talks to her class about their behaviour during a trip on the bus. Neither the pupils nor Petra herself had offered an older woman a seat. The children and the teacher were all too involved in their own affairs. The woman had reacted by writing an angry letter to school. The headmaster thought it very annoying and asked Petra to deal with the issue in her class. Petra used the incident as an introduction to talk about morals with the children, and about values such as 'respect' and 'responsibility'.
How do you do it?
Every teacher will recognize those problematic teaching moments from his or her experience. Something suddenly happens which requires a reaction. One pupil makes a discriminating remark about a fellow classmate, for example. Or the teaching material invites you to take a moral standpoint. What role is most suited to the teacher in such situations?
The Latent Curriculum
Such situations occur and the teaching materials regularly invite teachers to take a moral standpoint, which is why future teachers must be offered teaching experience and practice situations while in training, in order to prepare them for the practical situations.
The influence of the discussion on the pedagogic assignment
It was indicated above that values are always an issue in the education process. This particular aspect of education has been paid plenty of attention in the discussion of the pedagogic assignment which has been initiated over the past years.
'Teachers are conscious of values and morals. They apply them in their dealings in and outside of school. They aim to detect and remove their own prejudices. They try to form an opinion which is both balanced and defendable. They are aware of the philosophy or ideology which play a role among the people with whom they are involved. They are able to link choices based on values and morals, to this knowledge, inspired either by their own philosophy or ideology, or purely from a professional point of view. In all cases, they are capable of justifying their choices, also in critical reflection of the philosophy or ideology which is under discussion, where possible.'(24,25)
In the fourth version of 'Startbekwaamheden Leraar Primair Onderwijs' (Primary School Teachers' Starting Skills), the theme of 'values and morals' is a regular feature of the 'basic attitude' section in the detailing of starting skills. An example is:
'The new teacher can supervise the development of values and morals among his pupils in education, partly by laying a link with his own orientation of values and with their experiences, their environment, with the social and philosophical traditions and current situation, and the detailing of this in the principles and/or the school concept of the school.' (29)
In Het gemeenschappelijk leerplan pabo (teacher training statement of principles), the task group indicates that society is increasingly emphasizing 'increasing and urgent demand for personal interpretation and explicit expression of values and morals.' (22) Education has a task in this:
'Education is an important factor for society in many perspectives. ... In a moral sense because education contributes to a caring and ethical society'. (20)
The discussion on the pedagogic assignment emphasizes that the school must help pupils to develop skills and attitudes in order to function as responsible citizens in our democratic society. In the document entitled Kerndoelen Basisonderwijs (Key Objectives of Primary Education), which is an important indicator for the contents of the teacher training curriculum, this aspect is detailed as follows:
Pupils take part in group activities. This means that:
There is plenty of attention for the pedagogic assignment at the level of the directional documents in which the ideal profile of the profession is described and ultimate terms are formulated. The contents of these documents is in line with the intentions of the national discussion.
An important challenge for the training colleges is then: how can you translate these orientational concepts into your own teacher training course? You are faced with questions such as: To what extent is the issue of the pedagogic assignment explicitly dealt with? What can be changed or improved in terms of training didactics? How can the starting skills referred to be given form and content with a view to the intended ultimate terms?
The Overijssel project
The 'Values & Morals' project group of the five teacher training colleges in Overijssel was initiated at the end of 1996. The project group task is at the practical level. The profession profile, ultimate terms and starting skills must be translated into a concrete programme for training practice.It is a complicated task. Unlike other professional fields, there are no specific concepts or institutionalized traditions on which to fall back. There is not (yet) a network of teachers working on the theme of values and morals.
Values & Morals' programme at teacher training college
The draft programme of values and morals comprises a number of levels.
The starting point of the programme is the students' own (preliminary) knowledge. As adolescents, they have their own values and morals. Once the students have followed the programme, they are better equipped to reflect on their subjective concepts. They can relate their values and morals to their actions in and outside of school. They are aware of their own prejudices and aim to form an opinion which is both balanced and defendable. Philosophies and ideologies play an important role. Students learn to include their own values and morals in their working concept. They can also lay a link between their working concept and the identity of the school.
Students must become aware of a number of value issues within the context of school processes, not only in (teaching) situations in which values and morals are explicitly referred to. As soon as students enter a school, they are confronted with the effects of the latent curriculum. Once they have followed the programme, they are better equipped to reflect on the implications of the latent curriculum. They have insight into the influence of this curriculum and can deal with this consciously and pro-actively.
Students who wish to lend form to the pedagogic assignment need a set of instruments. Once the students have followed the programme, they are better equipped to apply the instruments in question in their own daily practice. They acquire know-how, insight, skills and attitudes which are necessary in order to work responsibly at the formation of values and morals in the school context
Examples of such instruments are:
The students must be able to apply the above 'instruments' cohesively in the various subject/teaching areas and in activities beyond the subjects themselves. Primary school pupils are being prepared for life in a democratic society. The Values & Morals programme concept therefore confronts prospective teachers with realistic dilemmas and teaching situations which affect the social and societal practice of the primary school. With this in mind, education in democratic citizenship will also be a point of attention.
Back and forth between perception, practice and theory
The design of the Values & Morals programme is as far-reaching as the pedagogic assignment as such. The project group is convinced that the challenge of the pedagogic assignment can be seen as a challenge throughout the school. The various programme components can be offered in an integrated fashion within the existing fields of training. A separate subject for values and morals is not desirable within the teacher training concept.
The approach is based on three components which are interlinked and influence one another, namely:
Interactive and multi media
The contribution which the project group wishes to make with regard to realization of the programme is a multi media interactive learning environment. The choice of a learning environment (a well prepared, relatively open situation in which active learning can take place) is based on the constructivist view that learning should take place actively and independently. Interaction between the student, who is responsible for his or her own learning process, and the learning environment offered, the student's own (preliminary) knowledge can be discussed to begin with. New knowledge can then be constructed. The use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the learning environment offers many possibilities. To give an idea, a description will be given of the first sub-design of a multi media learning environment, which comprises the demo CD-Rom 'De Bus' and an internet environment. The CD-Rom is not a finished product, but rather a prototype from which the project group has learned a great deal. This CD-Rom is used at participating teacher training colleges at the moment. The evaluation data of users (students and lecturers) plays a role in the development of the following products.
The CD-Rom in the learning environment
The main learning functions offered by the CD-Rom are as follows:
We shall illustrate these functions on the basis of the first prototype.
The CD-Rom is an attractive learning environment for students. It combines elements which are separate in the standard aids to learning. The practical situation is found on this CD-Rom in the video fragments. The student can simultaneously learn from the relevant theories and is constantly invited to think and process those thoughts in an own working concept.
The learning environment and internet
The options offered by internet will become a real element of the multi media W&N learning environment in the near future. The interactive element can then be optimally used: not only in the sense of 'pre-planned interactivity' as is usually the case in a CD-Rom, but also in the sense of own, self-oriented input.
Users will soon be able to link up the 'Values & Morals' (W&N) web site (presently under construction), where interested parties can find extensive background information on the pedagogic assignment of education and also references to other web sites with interesting and up to date information on issues concerning the teaching of values and morals. The W&N site will also offer suggestions for primary school lessons, thus supplementing the learning environment of the CD-Rom with the latest know-how.
A following phase in the Values & Morals project is the use of video conferencing. Values and morals need to be experienced in a true life situation, which can best be achieved in direct 'live' confrontation. E-mail gives the opportunity to communicate in writing, but this misses the non-verbal signals as an elementary source of information. Video conferencing can play an important role here. Students, pupils and teachers can see each other as discussion partners. Individuals and classes can hold direct discussions together, can establish, execute and evaluate projects together. If required, any number of people can take part in the discussion worldwide.
This is only the beginning
This article mentions a number of options for a multi media learning environment for values and morals. It will be clear that there is still plenty to be done in detailing this learning environment. Plenty of work is being done to detail and design the Values & Morals learning environment. New options must be tested in terms of their effectiveness. The project group is in the midst of a process in which it deploys try outs and evaluation to progress step by step. Reactions and new ideas are most welcome of course.
BRONKHORST, J. Towards an integrated multi media learning environment for moral education. Paper presented at the ATEE conference, Macerata, 1997
FORUM VITAAL LERAARSCHAP, Beroep in beweging, beroepsprofiel leraar primair onderwijs.(Profession on the Move - a profile of primary school teachers) Utrecht 1995.
HERTVELDT, F., VANNESTE, P. en WYLIN, B., Internet, een nieuw didactisch medium, (Internet, a new didactic medium) Antwerp, 1997
HUFFMAN, H.A., Developing A Character Education Program, Alexandria 1994.
KLAASSEN, C., De pedagogische opdracht in een postmoderne tijd. (The pedagogic assignment in a post modern era) VELON magazine 1993, 4.
KLAASSEN, C., Socialisatie en Moraal, Onderwijs en waarden in een laat-moderne tijd. (Socialisation and Moral, Education and values in a late modern era) Leuven / Apeldoorn 1996.
MEERVELD, J. (red), Multi mediae interactieve leeromgeving waarden en normen, Projectgroep Waarden & Normen Lerarenopleidingen Basisonderwijs Overijssel, (Multi media interactive learning environment for values and morals - Project group for Values & Morals in Teacher Training for Primary Schools in Overijssel) Hengelo, 1997
VERENIGING DE SAMENWERKENDE PEDAGOGISCHE CENTRA, Startbekwaamheden Leraar Primair Onderwijs (Starting Skills for Primary School Teachers) (Fourth version), Utrecht, 1997
STEVENS, L.M. (voorzitter), Hoofdlijnen van een gemeenschappelijk leerplan pabo, uitgave Procesmanagement Lerarenopleidingen, (the teacher training statement of principles, Process Management Teacher Training publication) 1997
VALSTAR, J.G., Basisdocument: het paradoxale proces, Projectgroep Waarden & Normen Lerarenopleidingen Basisonderwijs Overijssel, (The Paradoxical Process - Project group for Values & Morals in Teacher Training for Primary Education in Overijssel) Hengelo 1997.
VEUGELERS, W., Docenten en de pedagogische opdracht van het onderwijs. (Teachers and the pedagogic assignment of education) VELON magazine 1994, 4.