Modeling Choice

Many years ago, a reader from Australia sent me the following note:

If we want kids to be caring, honest, generous, and responsible, we have to be caring, honest, generous, and responsible ourselves. As has been said, “Modeling is not just a way to teach; it is the only way to teach.”

Choice is essential to the teaching and learning of values. You cannot mandate generosity, caring, responsibility, honesty, etc. These values can only be promoted in an environment of choice.

You can only show honesty, caring, responsibility, etc. when you can choose not to behave in these ways. Many kids these days have huge amounts of freedom, but they do not have the responsible behavior to handle their freedom.

In schools we often believe that these kids know how to behave appropriately and are choosing not to. Maybe many of these children have never been taught the behaviors necessary to be responsible, caring, honest, etc. Or they have been taught the skills and behavior but have never been given the choice to choose to behave in these ways or not. Choice is the basic ingredient for the promotion of pro-social values.

(From Nancy Snow, District Guidance Officer, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia)

What are your thoughts on this concept? How are you modeling the values that are the keystone of a civil democracy (and a well functioning classroom)? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.