Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shared Values

In 1995 I was invited to be part of a committee struck by the Regina Public School system. This committee charged with the task of finding a set of values that could be the foundation for the Board's education program and their school culture. the committee was made up of board members, central office officials, principals, teachers and members of the public who represented different faiths and cultures. I was asked to sit on the committee as a professor who was interested in this area but it was also acknowledged that I was a member of the Regina Jewish Community.

As anyone that has been in a situation like this would know the conversations, discussions and arguments were interesting to say the least.

One of the early things we needed to deal with was the 'fact' that Canada was a christian country and therefore the schools needed to be based on christian values and ideals. That notion sort of left the Jews, Moslems, Bahai, Hindu, atheist, agnostic, etc. folks out of it.

Another issue was the idea that commonly held values would be realtively easy to establish...... didn't everyone value human life????? Oops, what does that say about pro-choice advocates.

It was actually a long hard process but fortunately we were lead by some pretty intelligent, insightful people. They were able to take the wide-ranging discussion and very diverse belief systems and shape them into something that was understood by all, accepted by all and that still had some deep value.

It all boiled down to four value statements: I respect, I belong, I want to know and I am responsible.

After all these years these statements still guide the operations of the Regina Public School Board. Yes, there are many examples of these statements being contradicted by the actions of people within the Board. But there is a far greater number of actions that reinforce and live out these statements.

I just returned from the First (annual they hope) Shared Values Recognition Program. I was invited to attend because I was on that original committee.

The Program honours 6 people who exemplify the Shared Values and who make significant contributions through their work. The winners must be nominated and a selection committee makes the final decision.

It was an honour to be there tonight to hear some of the wonderful work done by caretakers, teaching assistants, principals and teachers.

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