November 6, 2020
Over the past two years I have attended a number of high school assemblies, and each time I watch as students roll their eyes when our school values are brought up once again. I am no exception to this annoyance, as I too can find them very cliché, and often at times relatively cringeworthy. For those of you who have forgotten, our school has 5 values that we – the student body – are expected to maintain. These are: Respect, Self-control, Care and Concern for Others, Honesty and Equality. When speaking with Ms. Gifford, she put it quite nicely, “our school values are what set us apart from the thousands of other international schools”. This is because they are supposedly a tangible representation of our school community. However, is this even true? Are the school values truly representative of our school community?
After speaking to a number of students, I found that a majority of them understood the importance behind these school values. However, most, if not all of them, also found that they were used far too frequently. Many of them described the feeling that the values were being “shoved down their throat”. I found that the importance of the values was lost due to this excessive use of them.
The values are already integrated into our homeroom SEL programme, while they aren’t super obvious, this may be contributing to this suffocation of values. Perhaps if the values were integrated into the SEL programme in a more positive way, the values could change into something that represents the positives of our school instead of lecture strategies. However, this could also simply contribute to the preexisting disdain towards our school values.
Personally, I have conflicted opinions regarding the school values, and I’m sure many students share my sentiments. On one hand, like many other students and members of staff, I do believe that the school values are of great importance, and are ideals. However, I have a difficult time accepting these values as realistic, or even achievable. These values restrict us to being a perfect school community, where no mistakes can take place, and yet, the values are only ever mentioned or talked about when something goes wrong. This is quite interesting as these values are supposed to be representing the positives of our school community, but are instead manipulated into tools to lecture students on what they are doing wrong. This atmosphere creates a stark disconnect between the students and the values, creating disdain for whenever these values are brought up.
Perhaps, if these “values” were instead called goals, it wouldn’t be something that each student is expected to be in the here and now. It would instead be something that each student should ultimately work towards. Ms Gifford herself said that we will always make mistakes, that is inevitable, and therefore these values are something we will constantly be working towards.
A majority of students, myself included, agree that there needs a balance between talking about the values and them being incorporated into our life. To the members of staff, I would advise you to tread carefully when talking about the values. Whilst you may have our best interests at heart, there is a lack of positive communication with the students.
To my fellow students, it would be best to try and understand why these values are important in the first place. These school values, while yes, sometimes seem very unachievable and unrealistic, are ultimately the makings of a good human being. Perhaps, if we as a student body, were a little bit more open to the idea of change and improvement we would be able to see that.