Values At The Heart Of Our Culture – Jennifer Oaten
As an educator, I have had the privilege of working with people of all ages, giving me unique insights into the values that hold significance for different individuals. It is fascinating to listen to their stories and discover what truly matters to them, whether they are 5 or 50 years old.
Values are the guiding principles that inform our thoughts, words, and actions. They reflect our sense of right and wrong and influence the decisions we make every day. When we consciously use our values to make choices, we prioritise what’s important to us. Values guide all aspects of our lives, including our home life, work or school life, and social interactions. They should also shape our online behaviours
The Heart of Santa Maria College
At Santa Maria College, our Mercy values keep us anchored to the beliefs we hold dear. We are fortunate to be guided by the values exemplified by Jesus and Catherine McAuley. When shared values exist, they foster unity and cohesion within a community. While everyone’s values may differ, as a school, our shared values have the power to unite us.
Why are values important?
But why are values important? Our values are reflected in how we choose to behave. It is easy to talk about our values when everything is going well, but their true significance shines through during challenges, difficult decisions, and problem-solving. Values provide a framework for decision-making, guide our interactions, help resolve conflicts, and propel us forward.
Aligning our life choices with our values offers a solid foundation that steadies and protects us through life’s ups and downs. Values ensure that our actions align with who we aspire to be at our core. In challenging situations, emotions can cloud our judgment, and we may react without thinking. Knowing our values allows us to form our own opinions on important matters.
There are various types of values we may hold:
- Family values reflect what our own families hold in high regard, such as respect for our parents, grandparents, and other family members. A cohesive family demonstrates respect for all its members, despite challenges and differences.
- Individual values are the principles individuals live by, like excellence, where they strive to do their best.
- Relationship values reflect how we interact with others in our lives, including family, friends, and colleagues. For instance, honesty is crucial in building strong relationships.
- Social values reflect how we, as individuals, relate to society. Examples include justice, where prioritising the marginalised becomes important.
Discovering your own values
Self-reflection on our values and their impact on our lives is paramount. Dedicate time to ponder what genuinely holds significance for you, and delve into the reasons behind it. Identify the values that steer your choices, including those you aspire to uphold but find challenging in certain circumstances.
Now, let us explore a few thought-provoking questions to ask yourself:
- Which values do you admire in your closest friends?
- What values were passed on to you by your family?
- Among your own values, which do you feel most strongly about?
- What values do you hope will define your life when someone writes your biography?
Living a life in alignment with our values leads to a profound sense of purpose and fulfilment. It paves the way for personal growth and self-discovery as we navigate life’s inevitable challenges. At Santa Maria College, we are dedicated to fostering an environment where our students can explore and embrace their unique values, learning to live authentically and in harmony with themselves.
By promoting empathy, compassion, respect, integrity, and justice within our community, we aim to empower our students with the necessary tools to lead meaningful lives. In today’s world, it may appear that society has lost touch with these values, with discrimination, abuse of power, and greed on the rise. However, it is precisely during such times that values become even more crucial, serving as a guiding light toward positive change.
Let us remember that values are contagious. When we embody them in our thoughts and actions, we inspire others to do the same. By consistently aligning ourselves with our core values, we become not only better individuals but also active contributors to a better world.
Together, we can create a brighter future for both our College and the world we inhabit.