Thursday, November 04, 2004

South Africa Living Values and Ubuntu

Ubuntu is an African code of ethics, which embraces the hospitality, generosity and warmth that is so typically associated with the African people. Ubuntu, as an ideal, stands for the opposite to selfishness and intolerance. It promotes co-operation between individuals, cultures and nations and the principles of compassion, forgiveness and personal accountability. It is apparent that values-systems such as this, which exist or have existed in most cultures in the world, have served to reduce conflict, restore dignity and bring about reconciliation within families, between tribes and clans and even between nations.

Ubuntu is something very familiar and close to the heart of several LVE educators and has been receiving their detailed attention for the past few months. At a recent LVE planning meeting in South Africa it became clear that researching the knowledge and wisdom of Ubuntu and other values systems, integrating them into educational programmes, and exploring ways in which they can be applied and adapted to different situations, could provide valuable insights in finding solutions to many of the world’s social ills.

The South Africa LVE team began thinking of a 3 day conference to bring together practitioners of Ubuntu from different tribes in South Africa and Africa, as well as Living Values practitioners, to find a meeting place between the values of Ubuntu and the twelve values in LVE.
Anyone interested in this field is warmly invited to contact LVE's South Africa coordinator at

USA Building a Community of Learning at a Montessori Charter School
From Massachusetts, Anne Rarich filed this report:

"In the evening of 20th September 2001 parents and teachers at the Montessori Charter School in Newton, Massachusetts, serving 300 children, from 6 months to 12 years old, met to share a potluck dinner and discuss the importance of living values in shaping the lives of young people. Parents were given an overview of what their teachers would be doing over the next two days while the school was closed. There was a lot of support for the teachers and gratitude for the initiative. Everyone was most pleased at the parent turnout for this event and it was clear that the events of 11th September were weighing heavily on all.
Several key staff members had attended the LVE Peace Village Teacher Retreat in August and were consultants to the facilitators on what would be most useful to their colleagues at the school. The staff of this school were a demonstration of the rich diversity within the U.S.A. and there were at least 7 nationalities represented amongst them, many of whom had come from war-torn countries. Forty teachers and administrators attended the two-day training, which was facilitated by Ed Wondoloski, Liza Haddad and Anne Rarich.
Although a two-day agenda had been planned, there was a real need to take the listening exercises more seriously than ever before. As the use of the Emotional Landscape was introduced, people began to get in touch with negative feelings that had been bottled up inside for ten days. The facilitators acknowledged that feelings were not good or bad but just exist. Participants had been trying so hard to shelter children that they were surprised at the opportunity to get in touch with their own feelings and how raw they felt. There had been bomb threats made on the city of Boston and people were feeling exceptionally vulnerable. Throughout the first afternoon, the facilitators worked with the staff both to acknowledge what they had been experiencing and then look for what could emerge from the strengths of being part of this teaching community. As a result of the work done on the first day, teachers were more enthusiastic about returning on a Saturday, which is usually devoted to time with their families.
On Saturday, we resumed where we had left off the day before and introduced everyone to the Living Values books and had them plan activities in their work groups so that they could take their planning and implement it in their classrooms the following week.
Everyone felt that the time had been well spent and that they had learned some practical lessons both for themselves personally as well as for their classrooms. There was a renewed sense of how each staff member has a unique contribution to make and that it was valued. There was a heightened awareness of shared support for one another, not just those in the same age group but across the different work groups."

Nigeria Values: 1; Disobedience and Caning: 0
Living Values has received a very warm welcome in Lagos where educators face a barrage of problems, violence and a lack of discipline are endemic, and caning is still practised. Living Values Education Coordinator for Nigeria, Nick Christianson, who is also a secondary school teacher, filed the following report after recent LVE trainings held in Primary, Secondary and International schools and a Sixth Form College in Lagos:
"A Living Values Educator Training was held at The Dominican School, Lagos, a Catholic Nursery/Primary School, from 15th to 19th October 2001 for 42 teaching staff, including the headmistress, and three non-teaching staff. The school, run by a Dominican nun, with mostly lay staff, enjoyed the three-day training. One teacher on sick leave, could not stay away from the training! One of the male staff confessed that he tried using one Living Values method but eventually had to cane a boy. Later he felt he got the message, that caning is not part of a values-based atmosphere!
"Following a training at the International School, University of Lagos, Senior Tutor Mr. Adebayo Olatunde Samuel reported: 'I had the very great experience of participating in a three day Living Values seminar at my school. I found the experience so elevating and efficacious that I recommended the training to a Sixth form college. I found that the training influenced my teaching method and attitude, improving my performance. I have found Living Values generally very useful in the classroom, and in particular, two methods that have been helpful have been (1) that of having the students make up the rules and regulations of the class conduct, and (2) using a quiet signal, namely holding my hand up and waving it slowly, to indicate that I want perfect silence.
The results:
My students find if difficult to be unruly in class because it has touched their conscience that they should not break the rules they themselves made. When I used the quiet signal, their tendency to start becoming noisy is greatly decreased and results in orderly conduct.'
"A Living Values Educator Training was held at Global International College, a private Sixth Form College in Lagos, from 29th to 31st October 2001 for 15 Teaching staff including the vice-principal and three Administrative staff. Many of the students at this sixth form college have been exposed to European and North American cultures and react against the more aggressive tone of Nigerian teachers with resentment. It's a challenge for these caring Nigerian teachers to look into "method" rather than authoritarian ways to motivate the students. The teachers, in the first day of training, drew up a sizeable list of objectives that they drew out of Living Values, as follows:
To attain a high level of behaviour, being willing to listen and accept correction and to accept the aim/objectives of the college (i.e. good exam results).
Students should adapt to the Nigerian way of teaching.
Students, who have imbibed foreign cultures and values, should be dealt with so that they don't feel intimidated.
Imparting of morals.
Students to appreciate the teachers.
Students and teachers to respect each other's opinions.
Good relationships between teachers and students.
Get to the heart of the student - win their interest to learn.
Students to learn without fear or intimidation.
Increase motivation in both teachers and students.
Learning skills
Achieve excellent exam results.
Students to be independent (i.e. to have initiative) in studying effectively.
Inculcate into students the courage to move ahead on their own.
Help students to concentrate.
Helping students to look ahead beyond their generation, i.e. a mature attitude towards the future.
Inculcate the quality of self-realisation, i.e. to realise their full potential.
Everyone felt that they gained a new insight into teaching as a result of the training, and felt they could immediately apply selected aspects of it. Their optimism is commendable bearing in mind that this is a sixth form college and does not allocate special time to extra curricular studies as would a secondary school.
"Following a training at a secondary school in early September 2001, teachers commented as follows:
'The seminar was a sort of eye opener to the possibility of applying the Living Values ethos with concrete results. I told our trainer that I wanted to experiment using Living Values with my own children at home. They are a bit disobedient and lazy with their chores. After applying what we learnt the first day, my twin daughters and their friend on holiday in my home are now more hardworking. I praised them. I saw them quickly going to do their chores with smiles. They each did their duties, co-operating with each other. I no more shout at them. I know I should talk to them with respect. This I did and they loved it. There is peace! My husband likes it and wants more of it! I introduced this programme to my family at the end of the training.'Mrs. Alade J. O.French Teacher
'The children were particularly excited on hearing that the cane would no more be used at home. I patiently explained all the values to them and how we should all work hard to make sure the Programme succeeded, especially as practising Christians. In the morning, we read the Bible and pointed out the values contained in the daily readings. We now pray about it, asking God for the grace to put it into practice. It is not easy, but I am determined to see it work. I have gained immensely from the Programme right from the very first day.'Mrs. V. P. EjehuVice Principal (Admin), Christian Studies Teacher
'I swung into action with what I had learnt. My children at home fight and quarrel a lot, probably as a result of their close ages, namely 9, 7 and 6. After yesterday's sessions, I sat them down and told them how important it is for them to dwell together in peace, harmony, unity and love. I taught my children not to be vindictive but to learn to be calm and show love.'Mrs. Foluke Adeniran (ISL)Teacher
'After the first day at the Living Values Training, unlike the tenseness with which I normally judge my nephews who live with me, I related to them calmly, even when I discovered the house chores were not in order. The two boys were surprised that I was not angry with them. After dinner, I took some time out to speak to them about the importance of education and values.'Mrs. F. M. OloladeBusiness Studies Teacher"

Vietnam Living Values reaches out, meeting people's needs
LVE's coordinator for Vietnam, Trish Summerfield, is one of Living Values e-News' most regular correspondents and she recently filed this update:
"In August 2001 we conducted a TTT for a group of teachers from Dien Tien Hoang High School in Hanoi and some psychologists. Following the training Dan and Khanh, two of the participants with a special place in their heart for LVE, offered to conduct trainings and co-ordinate LVE activities in Hanoi. Khanh, a psychologist and LVE trainer, will now conduct four LVE demonstration classes per month with the students at Dien Tien Hoang High School. The school will invite principals and teachers from schools in Hanoi to attend the classes to promote LVE and to give them a live demonstration of how LVE works in the classroom. The classes also aim to give the teachers at Dien Tien Hoang a greater understanding of the student-centred approach that LVE embraces and which is totally new to them. The National Television Station, VTV, recently filmed the demonstration classes and aired them on national television. They are also considering running a series of classes showing all twelve values.
For some time we have been planning to make a LVE documentary in Vietnamese to air on television and to use in promotion and training. Bill Bacon, a lovely Canadian, offered his time and equipment free of any charge. Bill has had a 40-year career as a producer of documentaries and received 3 Emmy awards and Oscar nominations, yet he said that filming the Living Values programme at the Dien Tien Hoang High School was by far the most special and valuable project of his career.
We held another two-day LVE with a group of 80 very enthusiastic and active high school teachers; parts of the training were televised on national news.
We then travelled to a province north of Hanoi for two days of training with a group of 45 doctors and nurses. The training is part of a project being conducted by Dr Kiet, a psychologist we have been working with. On the first day we presented LVE to the People's Committee, the Hospital Board of Directors and representatives from WHO. The province is rather isolated and so the material and approach was very new for them, yet they responded very positively and happily agreed to go ahead with a pilot project that would include LVE as part of their work to help reduce the high incidence of suicide and reduce domestic violence in the district.
In Ho Chi Minh City, at the end of October 2001, we held our first two-day training with the Communist Youth League. The participants were very enthusiastic and created a huge banner of all their experiences during the training. The Director of the Youth Cultural House (where the training was conducted) said that he felt before the training that participants all knew how to speak and through the training they had now learnt how to listen. We will hold another LVE training at the Youth Cultural House at the end of November. On the 24th and 25th November we held another training at the Youth Cultural House with the club coordinators and now the English club, which has 500 members, will hold monthly LVE classes with its members. The social work club, culture club and internet club will also begin using LVE.
We held a TTT with a group of 65 educators who now aim to visit the provinces and share Living Values with youth and educators there.
The main Director of the Thanh Da Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Ho Chi Minh City has very kindly offered to sponsor the distribution of the Vietnamese version of the Living Values Activities book for Young Adults to every drug rehabilitation centre in Vietnam, of which there are more than 200. He will also introduce LVE to the Vice-President of the City."

Laos Seminar generates interest in training
From Vietnam, Trish Summerfield sent us this report:
"In late August 2001, we visited Laos and held an afternoon seminar on Living Values for a group of educators and general public at a local hotel in Vientiane. Meetings were also held with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and Save the Children Foundation. SCF is interested in having a LVE training for its group of youth volunteers so that they can train others during their education trips to the provinces. The Ministry is also very interested in the Programme."

China Thirteen Beijing schools start LVE!
In late October 2001, a small Living Values team from Hong Kong visited Beijing. The Beijing Institute of Education (BIE) organized a morning visit on 25th October to a local primary school where a teacher who had taken part in the five-day seminar and TTT in August 2001, and already begun implementing LVE, was integrating Living Values within her art class. Both the Living Values team and the representatives of the BIE were pleased with the way that a values dimension was integrated into the class and impressed with the enthusiasm and support of the teacher and her Principal.
On the 26th October a whole-day reunion of participants in the August seminar and TTT was held at the BIE to share experiences and make future plans. Although it was a working day, the majority of participants were able to make arrangements to attend. Lecturers at the BIE said that they were themselves using aspects of the Programme and teachers from thirteen schools reported that they had already begun implementation of LVE, some as a separate class subject and others by integrating it within other subject areas:
Grouped into five working teams, participants then undertook a strategic planning process and developed action plans for the further implementation of Living Values in Beijing schools and for a regional values education conference to be held in 2002.
Back in Hong Kong, Dr Ramsey Koo and Dr CK Chan of the Hong Kong Institute of Education arranged a two-hour session on Living Values in November 2001 as part of their module on Teacher Effectiveness and Teacher Professionalization. The 50 or so in-service secondary school teachers who attended were introduced to LVE and also experienced a number of the activities, expressing appreciation for the LVE approach and methodology.

Egypt Success Stories
Living Values has taken firm roots in Egypt and continues to yield good results, as can be seen from the following comments from teachers implementing LVE with students Ages 7-14:
“One child used to move about too much and had no ability to concentrate. I tried before to help remedy this through advice and through giving orders sometimes but it did not work. But when I gave him responsibilities in the class, he became a responsible and disciplined child. Another child used to get into a bad temper quickly and rejected everything, but with love and understanding he became polite and quieter.” Rasha Labib, Jesuit & Frere Association in El-Menia; age of students: 10-14
“Some children used to be aggressive but after some time of applying LVE they started feeling for other schoolmates and felt responsibility to protect weaker children instead of being aggressive. With the honesty activities, children started respecting others' property; less theft cases took place and, when they did, usually children came forward to admit that they were the ones who stole others' property.”Mamal Lotfi Mansour, Jesuit School in El-Menia; age of students: 7-11
“Children developed a sense of responsibility and respect towards their peers, even those who were less successful in their studies, and began helping them to succeed also.”Baher Adib Sami, Jesuit School in El-Menia; age of students: 12-13
“I had three girls in the class acting and thinking in exactly the same way. Through LVE activities of respect and responsibility, they learned the real meaning of friendship while being independent and now each has her own personality and mind. At the end of the year, each was respecting the others' opinions and thoughts and each became responsible for her ideas and decisions whilst remaining good friends with the others.”Irene Samir Naguih, Jesuit School in El-Menia; age of students: 10-12

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