Forming Values Throughout Life

Experiences in & out of the classroom & throughout life contributes to the personal values. What experiences have influenced your value formation?

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I sorted through some files last week and found a document I posted on my bulletin board in every office I had for my entire work life.  This document titled “Values for Students and Professional Leaders” is from a 1993 academic journal.  I find it interesting that 25 years later the values continue to be applicable today as desired outcomes of education and for society.  The values document was a “clip and save” page included in the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association journal.  

Prior blogs, July 2019, and October 2019, I wrote about the connection of the academic/co-curricular experience for student learning and development.  It is passe’ to not think there is educational value to all aspects of life and that learning takes place beyond the traditional classroom setting.  Sociability, transmission of and adherence to values, and enhancement of self-identity are a few points that stand out when I think about the effect of the thoughtful integration of the academic/co-curricular experiences on student development. Learning products include development of sportsmanship, adjustment, and modification of reactions to others and their ideas, commitment to development of skills and abilities, and mental adjustments made through success and failure. 

Chickering (1976, 1993) defines experiential learning as the learning that occurs when changes in judgements, feelings, knowledge, and skills result from active engagement in life.  Kerner (2018) cites advantages of experiential learning include:

  • Ability to immediately apply knowledge
  • Access to real-time coaching
  • Promotion of teamwork and communication skills
  • Development of reflective practice habits

Mercer (2019) writes about upholding values today.  She shares a perspective that society needs more empathy, respect, love, loyalty, and honesty.

Empathy – Empathy is defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of another. People need to understand who others are and accept who they are.  Focusing on how we can grow together should be our ultimate goal.

Respect – Mutual respect is needed for all of us. This is what makes us human. Having respect for everyone, despite the differences between us, is vital in order for a society to function well.

Love – Having love in our hearts keeps us from feeling the need to harm others. Love helps us acknowledge the similarities we all share rather than the differences of color, religion or sexual orientation.

Loyalty – Loyalty is a value that binds us to a person, thing or sentiment. With loyalty, we do not betray. If we all shared loyalty, it would help us build the strength needed to stand up against something that would harm our society.

Honesty – One form of honesty in society is accepting yourself. With honesty, you can admit your flaws and take the necessary steps to improve yourself. When we can admit to our flaws it can help someone else admit theirs. Ultimately, we can all help each other become better people.

My point is that the integration of academic/co-curricular experiences and active engagement in life creates knowledge and values. Use the twelve values listed above and consider if these are values you uphold.  What experiences (in the classroom, out-of-class experience, living life) reinforce each?   

Take the idea above a step further and consider the three steps below.

Step 1: Creation of your values
**How did you form your values?

Step 2: Identification of your values
**What are your values?  Why do they matter? 

Step 3: Application of your values
How do you…

** define your personal values?
**prioritize your values?
**live your values with integrity?  
**use your values to guide decision-making?
**adapt and change your values when needed?

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