October 28, 2002

Youth and Education

Living Values: An Educational Program

The meeting was attended by 13 members and 20 guests

Business of the Institute

Stewardship and the Environment. Jim Haliburton gave an update on the several projects proceeding under this theme. Michael Dunn reported that the process for establishing the Gulf Islands Centre for Environmental Learning is proceeding well.

Spirituality and Personal Development. Gerri Schwartz announced that a retreat will be held on Bowen Island on November 22-23 on the topic of Nurture for Leaders. A few places remain for people interested in participating. Call Gerri Schwartz at 604-734-2544 or Diane Jennings at 604-945-7799.

Membership. The new membership year begins in January 2003. Members are asked to renew their membership with payment of $120 for 8 meetings in 2003. If you have a credit because you joined during 2002, Desmond Berghofer will advise you. Please make payment at the next meeting on November 25 (our last meeting for 2002) or by sending a cheque to 209 -1628 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver BC V6J 1G1.


Bill Borgen chaired this session in his role as Chair of the Youth and Education Committee.

Gerri Schwartz introduced the program by referring to the Institute's work with the School District of New Westminster and the Faculty of Education at UBC to create a lighthouse project on values-based education in New Westminster. She then introduced Gudrun Howard as the speaker for the evening. Gudrun leads the training in BC on a program called "Living Values."

Gudrun introduced the program by referring to several kinds of learning. Our current educational system emphasizes Learning to Do and Learning to Know. The Living Values curriculum is about Learning to Live Together and Learning to Be. The curriculum was produced as a partnership among educators around the world. It is supported by UNESCO and sponsored by the Spanish Committee of UNICEF, the Planet Society and the Brahma Kumaris (a United Nations Non Governmental Organization) in consultation with the Educational Cluster of UNICEF (New York).

The program is spreading rapidly around the world and at last report was being offered in 70 countries in 7000 sites. Mexico has decreed that every teacher in the country should take this training. In the US the State of Florida has made a strong commitment to the program. In BC Gudrun is kept busy giving presentations. A training program was held last summer in Vancouver. Gudrun will have an opportunity to briefly present the program at the Peace Education Conference at Mc Master University in Ontario later this year.

The curriculum is culturally acceptable to every nation. There are several books at different levels from age 3 to young adults. There is also a Parents' Guide.

The program is teacher friendly using stories and songs. It is easily integrated into various related subjects with activities in all subject areas.

The books can be ordered through Chapters and are not expensive.

Results: The program began in 1997 and although there is no formal research available on results, there is much anecdotal evidence reporting an increase in respect and caring for others among children who have been exposed to the program as well as a decrease in aggressive behaviour. The University of Newcastle in Australia is currently doing hard research on the effect of the program in 9 public schools where it is being offered. In BC we would like to see UBC undertake a research project as part of the pilot project at New Westminster School District.

The program is not limited to schools. Parents and children can use the program at home.

In Halifax all school personnel are getting training in the Living Values curriculum.

Core Assumptions. The Living Values program is based on a number of core assumptions:

1. Need for respect and dignity to be extended to every person
2. Each student cares about values and can learn them
3. Children thrive in a values-base atmosphere
4. The program provides tools for the whole person-intellectual, emotional and spiritual


1. To teach children to think about and reflect on values
2. To deepen the understanding of responsibility
3. To inspire the individual to choose by getting the child to draw his or her own conclusions
4. To imbue creative thinking about what a powerful loving world would look like
5. To encourage teachers to look at education as providing a philosophy of living.

Exercise: Gudrun took the audience through an exercise in which she asked us to think of a person who has influenced our life in a powerful and positive way. What are the qualities of that person? What would the world be like if everyone lived those qualities? What poems and books have influenced you in a positive way? Think about three positive moments in your life. What were your feelings and values at that time? What are your most deeply held values or aspirations for your life?

The following universal values are the ones taught in the Living Values curriculum:

Peace Cooperation
Respect Honesty
Love Humility
Responsibility Tolerance (Acceptance)
Happiness Simplicity

Gudrun gave the following definition of a value that is meaningful for children: Values are what you do when no one is watching.


The audience broke into discussion groups and came up with the following comments and suggestions:
1. The program should be brought to the attention of Parent Advisory Committees (PACs) so that they can become involved.
2. Set up a teacher/parent website.
3. Get children to do the teaching.
4. The process needs to be bottom-up, not top-down.
5. Make available to parents so that they understand the program
6. Make available to other community organizations.
7. The stress on story telling is key.
8. Use issues-oriented theatre, e.g., bullying.
9. Link to asset building program.
10. Many parents feel inadequate in teaching values and need a parenting course.
11. Get student councils involved.
12. Have Junior High students teach values to children in elementary school.
13. College students could make videotapes of values teaching.
14. Train practitioners to do values-based activities with children.
15. Use the media to educate people about what is working.
16. Establish a weekly radio program on values.
17. Take the program out to festivals.
18. Get businesses involved as sponsors.
19. Link to the Deepak Chopra Foundation
20. Senior Leadership in Schools is essential to establishing a viable program.
21. The program should be seen as value-added to regular teaching.
22. Use Rotary Clubs as a source of influence.


In his summary of the presentation and discussion Bill Borgen stressed that we must connect all the people involved. The strategy we are using in the proposed lighthouse program in New Westminster is to link it to the Social Responsibility Pillar proposed by the Ministry of Education.

On behalf of the Institute and everyone present Bill expressed our appreciation to Gudrun for coming out to speak to us about this program.

Next Meeting

November 25, 2002: 5.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., Vancouver Public Library

Theme: Spirituality and Personal Development

Topic: "Nurture for Leaders." Fresh from the retreat on Bowen Island, Gerri Schwartz and Diane Jennings will lead an inspiring evening on how we need to nurture ourselves and one another in our ethical leadership responsibilities.

Please make the program widely known to others who might wish to attend. A descriptive flyer is attached.