May 26, 2003

Education and Youth

Creating a Values-Based Curriculum in Schools

The meeting was attended by 9 members, 2 friends and 10 guests.

Business of the Institute

Stewardship and the Environment: Jim Haliburton reported that private schools are to be included in the North Shore Schools recycling program. The proposal for batteries drop-off at fire stations is going to the BC Municipalities Association for decision. Limiting of pesticide use in municipalities is spreading. The Eco-Home project is proceeding. Ken Martin reported good progress in his program to teach energy conservation in schools. Michael Dunn reported that the first meeting of the Board of the Gulf Islands Centre for Ecological Learning will be held on June 2. Desmond Berghofer is representing the Institute on the Board. Programs for summer are being planned on all five islands.

Spirituality and Personal Development: Diane Jennings reported that an interesting program is being planned for the next presentation of this theme at the October 27, 2003 meeting.

Health and Wellness: Gerri Schwartz reported for Maggie Gold that ongoing contacts are being made between IFEL and providers of complementary care.

Business and Sustainability: Desmond Berghofer reported that the initiative to create the Canada Well-Being Measurement Act (supported by IFEL) is coming up for consideration in the House of Commons on June 2. He also announced that the next meeting of the Institute on June 23, 2003 will feature a program on Building Business Beyond Integrity.


Introduction: Desmond Berghofer introduced the topic by responding to the question: Why do we need to live in an ethical society? Answer: Try the alternative.

Ethics is essentially about living in a compassionate and service relationship with others. An ethical society is one where people are focused on giving rather than taking.

The alternative is where people are out for as much as they can get. Self-interest predominates. People do not trust one another. They live in fear of what others are going to do to them. They build walls, hide behind shields, create powerful armies, strike first. They create enclaves of power and wealth and ghettoes of the poor and dispossessed.

Does any of this sound familiar?

An unethical world is a world of terror, fear and destruction; a culture of retribution and vengeance. Its final act is to consume and destroy the natural world on which all life depends. In its essence it is life-destroying.

Do we want to live in a world like that and pass it on in a downward spiral to our children?

If we don't, then we had best start to envision the ethical alternative and work very hard to create it. That's what tonight's program is about.

School Responsibility: Gerri Schwartz spoke of this initiative as a new and urgent responsibility for schools. Reflecting on her 40 years as an educator, she said that the institutions that carry the core values of our society tend to be opaque to the average citizen. It is not clear how they can be changed. The truth, however, is that they can be changed in incremental steps, which are cumulative and add up over time to significant change.

Teaching values used to be the responsibility of religious organizations, but over the last decades this influence has waned and moral relativism has set in. The only institution now available to teach values in a universal way for the common good is the school. It has to pick up the task, beginning in kindergarten. The Institute has been trying to get something moving on this in public schools for the past 2 years. We are ready to get some initiatives started in 2003-4 by working with specific schools in several school districts.

Living Values Program: Gudrun Howard reported that since she spoke to the Institute about the Living Values program last fall, there has been a steady increase in interest and activity across Canada and around the world. A training program for teachers will be held in Vancouver in August 2003 and 5 school superintendents will be attending. The strategy is to dovetail the program with the Provincial Social Responsibility Pillar. The program is low cost, teacher friendly and has the support of parents.

University Perspective: Bill Borgen spoke of his experience in implementing a similar program in an Edmonton school. The key is to get started and enable people to see that it works. We need to realize that there is no magic transformation. The effect of most systems is to try to bring things back to the way they were. Schools have to see that teaching values will help them to achieve their other goals of learning and socialization. The process can't be laid on, though the Provincial Social Responsibility Pillar gives relevance from the top.

Discussion: The audience broke into three discussion groups to discuss how to get programs started.

Report to Plenary: The following ideas were reported from the groups:

  1. Teachers have to see how the program is helpful to them.
  2. Having curriculum materials available is a plus.
  3. Best results will come from motivated teachers and administrators. We should try to find schools that are ready to act.
  4. We should ask teachers what they need.
  5. Grant money will be an incentive. Sources are Credit Unions, the Mel Sajek Foundation and the Tides Canada Foundation.
  6. Programs need to be professionally evaluated. The Canadian Evaluation Society is a resource.
  7. We need to approach Parent Advisory Committees to get their support.
  8. Endorsement from religious groups will be helpful, e.g., the Canadian Council of Churches.
  9. We should try to get into school Professional Development Days in 2004-5.
  10. It is important to sustain a program once it is started.
  11. We need to avoid being prescriptive and making unwarranted assumptions.
  12. The question to bear in mind is, What do you need to have happen in order to get the initiative to look the way you want it to look?


In closing the session Gerri invited people to e-mail her with suggestions of who we might speak to further. The e-mail address is

Next Meeting

June 23, 2003: 5.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m., Vancouver Public Library
Theme: Business and Sustainability
Topic: Building Business Beyond Integrity