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Character Education

Third Values Education Summit Convened in Australia

Australia-2021-11-13-Third Values Education Summit Convened in Australia

Melbourne, Australia—The third of a series of three Values Education Summits for 2021, sponsored by UPF-Australia and the International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP)-Oceania, was convened on November 13, 2021. Fifty participants, including educators, community leaders, academics from IAAP-Oceania, and UPF leaders, discussed the importance of values education. The content was transcribed and added to a position paper that will be shared with governments and other stakeholders to provide a comprehensive vision for values education. The moderator was Dr. Chris Sotiropoulos, CEO and co-founder of Global Opportunities Commercialisation. These summits will continue in 2022.

The first speaker was Mr. Terry Lovat, a professor emeritus at The University of Newcastle, Australia. He was formerly the chief investigator for the research projects that ran under the aegis of the Australian Values Education Program (2003-2010). The three significant findings of their work was that the schools that implemented values education had students who showed an increase understanding of values, which led to an increase in social and emotional wellbeing, and academic improvement. He said, “By creating an environment where values were constantly shaping classroom activity, teachers and students were happier, schools were calmer and student learning improved.” Mr. Lovat suggested that some years ago governments around the world stopped the values education trend in favor of back to basics educational outcomes. He argued that this was a mistake, as values education supports educational results.

The second speaker was Mrs. Anna Urban, principal of St John’s Greek Orthodox College in Preston, Australia, who spoke on the topic “Living Our Values Everyday.” Mrs. Urban has worked in education for 25 years, and for 11 of these years, as a school principal. She believes that fundamental to school success is that all key stakeholders in the community have a shared understanding of the vision, mission and values of the organization. Children and young people also need teachers at their school to understand that when they are stressed or anxious, they cannot engage in their own learning. Thus, the cornerstone of effective teaching and learning is a commitment to student wellbeing framed by shared values and shared expectations.

She also shared about the journey her school took to redefine their vision, mission and values, and define the shared expectations of the school community. When Mrs. Urban asked a parent what was most important for their child who was just about to commence the very first year of school, the parent said, that their child become a good human being, a responsible member of society and show compassion for others.

The third speaker was Dr. Magdalena Simonis, a general practitioner and president of the Australian Federation of Medical Women (AFMW). Dr. Simonis is also a health advocate; a researcher with the Department of General Practice, Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Melbourne; and a trainer and facilitator in domestic and family violence education for general practitioners and nurses.

She presented on the topic, “Learning Difficulties in Adolescents are not all Classroom Related Issues.” Dr. Simonis maintained that family dysfunction is a common cause of adolescent mental health decline resulting in learning difficulties and school failure. The wellbeing of adolescents is a whole of society issue, and as such, Australia’s Victorian Government’s Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) in conjunction with the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVIS) have been modified to permit a sharing of information across the services sector to support child wellbeing. In her talk, Dr. Simonis outlined how the schemes aim to support child and adolescent wellbeing and safety, towards achieving better outcomes.

The fourth speaker was Dr. Neil Hawkes, an inspirational speaker, educator, broadcaster, author and social commentator, who spoke on “The Transformative Power of Values-based Education.”  He also is a popular TEDx presenter, and his thinking is having a profound influence on education and more widely in society. Dr. Hawkes first gained international recognition when he was a head teacher in Oxfordshire, U.K. He worked with a school community to devise and implement a pedagogical system that would give pupils a transformational vocabulary based on values, such as respect, tolerance, humility and justice. The school community found that pupils were empowered to be self-leaders, with an active ethical compass that affected behavior, their thinking and the quality of their schoolwork. Today, Dr. Hawkes’ philosophy has spread into all aspects of society and is known as values-based living. He is a member of the V20 Task Force, a global community of values experts and practitioners, that is advising leaders of the G20 (Group of Twenty), 19 of the world's largest economies and the European Union, about the importance of values to humanity.  He is also the founder of The International Values based Trust and its educational arm Values-based Education (VbE) and the author of the bestselling book, “From My Heart, Transforming Lives through Values,” which celebrates the success of values-based education worldwide. Dr. Hawkes’ latest book, co-authored with Jane Hawkes, is called “The Inner Curriculum, How to Nurture Wellbeing, Resilience and Self-leadership.”

The final speaker was Dr. John Bellavance, vice president of UPF-Australia and coordinator of the IAAP-Oceania. He holds a PhD on Values in the Digital World from Monash University, Australia. His topic was “A Holistic Approach to Education,” which includes how individuals manage themselves and their relationships well, contribute positively to society and manage their natural environment. He maintained that this relies on: reasoning, emotion and behavior, based on: intellectual and creative abilities, emotional and social abilities that underpin wellbeing, connection with others and service learning.

The summit was supported by UPF-Australia; the Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP); the Center for Global Nonkilling; the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry; the Global Opportunities Commercialisation; the Global Somali Diaspora; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)’s Asia Pacific Network for International Education and Values Education (APNIEVE).

To view a recording of the event, please click here.

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