Values, what are they today? I am applying for teaching positions at the moment. The last vacancy I applied for came back to me asking what qualities would I bring to the position. Iwas a little surprised at first, partly I think as a result of being a little overwhelmed by a big week with some emotional and physical challenges in it. I posted on facebook asking my friends for some feedback, mindful of my motto, (don’t ask a question you don’t want to hear the answer too. Well I have generous friends… however what they had to say resonated within me and I have been thinking how my “qualities” align with my values. Now I am quite happy with my values and have identified where most of my values have been learnt and the experiences that have shaped them. Those of you who know me will not be surprised at this. What I have been reflecting on is twofold however todays post is around values in parts of society or their experience of them.
Firstly I wonder how people who have been raised in the same era, same schooling and even sometimes in the same household, can have such differing values. I sometimes feel really out of step with some of my contemporaries with my values. I lament often the rise of individualism and consumerism, I understand it somewhat and have to fight it in my own life at times. Some times the personal is political and the political spills over into the personal. I have on my car an election sigh, a magnetised sign that endorses a candidate in my electorate. This gave rise to an incident today, nothing huge but a source of reflection.
At a gas station where I was filling up there was a car full of roughish looking young men, wearing gang colours as I got out they made a comment which I first attributed to being panhandled, I thought they were asking for money ( stereotyping on my part? Hmm) however they were commenting on my sign. Chur bro, awesome sign, yeah f that John Key he’s a racist #**# (you get the rest). Caught off guard, I nodded in assent about the support for the candidate but did not gain a chance to explain what I thought about our Prime Minister before they piled back into the car and departed for parts unknown with a chorus of” sieg”, and gang salutes. Now lets get something straight here, ordinarily saying “ sieg heil” to me is just not wise, especially at school, you better say a hail mary or five, and a few Our fathers in advance because I will exact some penance usually in the form of a history lesson sometimes followed with some community service at school for students. I find myself not alone on this matter http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/4569319/Sieg-heil-a-way-of-saying-hi-to-the-bros.
I am sickened to my shoes by such things, they well, let me just say are extremely disrespectful and trample all over the mana of people who sacrificed so much, so that we are free from that imprecation in our country and around the world. The ironic thing is that those who see it the most would have been among the first to be rounded up as part of Hitler’s “solution”, one wonders if this is a deliberate statement of defiance, ignorance perhaps or stupidity, perhaps all of the above as my daughter loves to say it just goes to prove that stupidity comes in more than one size.
I t does however highlight a continually growing issue that festers like some suppurating sore, a cancer that may become an epidemic. There is a growing group in society that is marginalised, trickle down theory has not eventuated, the poverty gap continues to widen and we have a problem with a significant group that are alienated from society. They see it in racial terms, they are Maori, they are poor and so it must be racist, that is the only lens thay have to see it through. I guess I should be glad that they are politicised, however it is probably unlikely that they will vote. This is a significant issue because they feel unrepresented and this further enhances their feeling of alienation, which comes with attendant deviancy including crime, violence and a rejection of many societal norms.
Back to my original reflection, this incident whilst it saddens me deeply that e have this societal issue it motivates me more to incorporate values into my teaching. Socialisation I hear the liberals scream, as they squirm like worms on a hot stone, yes I admit education is steeped in socialisation, I am however satisfied that if all I achieve with some young people is a realisation that they have some choice and that education can be a vehicle that prevents such poverty of spirit and body becoming a life sentence then I have succeeded. I will leave the final words to Robin Williams No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.