Using Values To Drive Our Culture – Jennifer Oaten
In my role as an educator, I have worked with people of all ages and this has given me the opportunity to learn about the values different people hold dear. It is interesting to listen to the stories of others and to hear what is important in their lives, whether they are 5 or 50 years old.
As children, our parents, family, and teachers pass their values on to us, and we live our lives based on what they have shared. As we mature, some of the values from childhood will be retained while others will become a priority as our lives change.
What are values?
Values are what we believe matters most in life and they inform our thoughts, words and actions. Values reflect our sense of right and wrong and inform the decisions we make every day. When we draw on our values to make decisions, we make a deliberate choice to focus on what is important to us. Values guide all aspects of life. They guide our home life, our school or work life, and our social life. Our values should also guide our online behaviour.
At Santa Maria College our shared Mercy values keep our community close to the beliefs we consider important. We are also fortunate to have the values shown by Jesus and Catherine McAuley to guide us. When values are shared, they build cohesion in a group. Everyone’s values are different yet as a school our shared values have the power to unite us.
Why are values important?
Our values are constantly reflected in the way we choose to behave. As individuals we may have values that we think and say are important, but do we back them up with our actions?
When all is going well, we don’t necessarily rely so heavily on our values but when there are challenges, difficult decisions or problems to resolve, that is when our values are most important.
Values provide the framework, or reference point, to help with decision making, guiding our interactions with others, resolving conflict or moving forward from situations.
Aligning your behaviour with your values and allowing them to guide your life choices offers you a solid foundation to steady and protect you through the ups and downs of life. Your values can help ensure you act in a way that matches who you want to be at your core. Knowing your values means you can develop your own opinions about important subjects rather than simply relying on emotional responses.
Questions to consider
It is important to decide what our values are, but also why they are important to us. Some questions to think about include:
- What values do you admire in your closest friends?
- What values were passed on to you from your family?
- Which of your own values do you feel most strongly about?
- What do you hope will be written in a biography about the values you lived in your life?
In today’s world, it may seem our society doesn’t hold many positive values. We seem to have a rise in discrimination, abuse of power, and greed, yet our own values can provide a framework for moving in a positive direction when faced with these challenges. Thinking and acting in ways that align with our core values makes us better people, and makes the world and our College a better place.