Teachers from 10 Ukrainian cities debate the values of the new Ukrainian school

The discussion about values of the new Ukrainian school was started by the experts of the project ‘Educational initiatives space’ of Ukrainian Catholic University. What values should those be? How will they influence the behavior of teachers and the organization of educational process? How relevant is the current interaction between teachers and pupils with those values? Teachers, participants of the special workshop ‘Values of the new Ukrainian school’ were looking for answers to these and other questions on December 6 in Lviv. Lviv has become one of the ten cities where such meeting have taken place. The others are Ivano Frankivsk, Lutsk, Kramatorsk, Kyiv, Dnipro, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Odesa, and Mykolaiv. The Institute of Leadership and Management coordinates one of the directions of the project - ‘Leadership based on values’, within which these workshops have been organized.

‘The subject of values has become quite popular in Ukrainian society. There is a threat of them being discredited because after the Revolution of Dignity everyone started talking about values. The ‘Concept of the new Ukrainian school’ stipulates the number of values which have to be introduced. When we started to study this document, we understood that there were no definitions of those values there. There was only the list of them. So, they had to be considered at a deeper level through a dialogue, focusing, examples, and to common understanding, since each of these values could be interpreted in a different way. We want to understand how interaction is organized in schools. What is it that we call a proper behavior, and what isn’t? Do we want to get an obedient pupil, or an individual, a responsible pupil?’, - says Ruslan Savchynskyi, the sociologist, expert at the project.

According to him, such meetings are designed, on the one hand, to urge teachers to ponder over the defined values and to start forming the understanding of them through a dialogue, and, on the other hand, - to understand the cultural nature of schools, those areas of threats and challenges which have to be taken into consideration.

‘The role of a teacher as someone who conveys knowledge is outlived. Teachers have to teach children to apply the knowledge. It’s called competences. The concept of the new Ukrainian school addresses it. It says that when leaving school a child must have certain skills, and know where and how to apply it. There is another special feature of this concept about schools dealing not with children’s bringing up, but forming values. However, it is not enough to merely articulate the list of these values or issue relevant orders, directives, and instructions. Values are not formed in this way. Values can be seen in behavior. This issue is very relevant now, and teachers, as well as the Ministry of Education, face it: what a teacher of the new Ukrainian school should be like? We fill the framework of the concept with contents, and in this way, we influence this process’, - says Nataliya Bordun, Director of ILM UCU. Participants of the workshop have been split into 4 groups, for the sociological purpose: aged up to 30 with less than 2 years of experience, aged 30-50 with 3-10 years of experience, aged 30-50 with over 10 years of experience; innovators. All groups have been debating the mentioned values: dignity, justice, care, respect for life, respect for oneself and other people, freedom, democracy, cultural variety, patriotism, respect for law, solidarity, responsibility.

‘We received a list of values and had to write down what notions we associate with them. And we made notes to each of the values: what really worked at school, and what didn’t. For some of the values, it was quite easy for us to find an answer, but it was rather difficult to talk about some of them. For instance, responsibility. Children are late for classes, do not make their homework, are not responsible for their actions, shift responsibility to someone else. We found a solution to this in the following: they have to set the rules themselves and to choose punishment for violations. If I haven't done something, then what am I ready to sacrifice? In my class we agreed on such a scheme: if I interrupt someone studying, then I am ready to take the week of this person’s duty at school. It has been difficult for us to understand how pupils interpret the word ‘dignity’. Most probably, they can be patriots. But not dignified patriots, because a dignified patriot respects fellow human beings. Whereas our children have problems with that. That is why we haven’t managed to find solutions for school problems in all the cases. And it worries us’, - Nataliya Radkevych, a teacher at general education school no.7, shares her impressions.

The organizers intend to analyze all the results of this workshop, and based on this analysis they will look for ways to help teachers to either change or confirm the values which the new Ukrainian school wants to see in its graduates. Since a teacher should not only be a person who speaks about values but a person who lives with those values and help the pupils to live according to such values.

 

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