EDEV_505 Week 2_2

I enjoyed reading about your institution’s sense of value on integrity and heritage. I see many parallels between your situation and my own. Two points from your post require further investigation. The first is about the general nature of value statements and the second about an interesting comment you make about directionality in the purpose of values in education.

Many HEIs, including the one where I work, use aspirational, encompassing and noble statements of purpose in their mission statements that attempt to encapsulate core values and objectives for the organisations (Fugazzotto, 2009). Yet, the terms typically used are unproblematic. Who would contest the attempt, for example, to aim to produce students with integrity? What is at stake is the issues that are either ignored (but more on that another time) or the introduction of incongruities that arises when issues conflict with actions. In other words, it is relatively easy to declare a commitment to, say, integrity, but without having institutional systems in situ that protect and promote integrity, or even an operationalised definition of integrity, then the declaration may be problematic (Halstead & Taylor, 1996).

In your institution’s case, questions can be raised regarding the nature of the intersection of integrity and the national law. Where these concepts do and do not overlap becomes the place for investigation. The term ‘integrity’ has two potentially opposite meanings. The first points to notions of honesty and probity, but the second is closer to the Latin root meaning of ‘integer’ / intact, whole, complete. There can be a conceptual link between these meanings, i.e. a ‘whole’ person is one who has no discontinuity between action and value, but this link needs to be articulated. There may be an argument that when an institution uses the term ‘integrity’, they may wish the whole institution act according to a uniform set of norms and values, which may or may not be connected to the instigation of personal integrity at the level of the individual. In other words, having integrity may mean ‘uphold the values of an organisation’ and not ‘develop personal and strong individual values’. These two possibilities can introduce inconsistencies in how the single value is interpreted and acted upon. Additionally, I would be sceptical of predicating institutional values with a nation’s legal values because the latter are often politically informed and certainly culturally influenced.

The second point picks up on the directionality implicit in your statement that “the development of sets of value leads to academic excellence” (AlSaghbini, 2016). Barnett (2009) attempts to describe the path from education to attitude, the aspiration that good curricula engender the development of a good person. Rather than values aiding academics, Barnett wishes for academic work to instil particular values. This leads to the question of why we have values at all in education; Are values terminal points in themselves, i.e. they represent desired final states of being, or are they instrumental, i.e. they point to actions that allow for societal cohesion (Hitlin & Piliavin, 2004)? Barnett does not distinguish between terminal and instrumental values, but his argument points clearly to his emphasis on terminal value only. He sees education as the process that creates terminal values in students. Your direction goes the other way. Values are instrumental in allowing other processes to function, in this case, academic excellence through (presumably) co-operation, effort, compliance and so on. Having both types of value simultaneously is probably desirable. However, clarification of directionality may be useful for educators. Does my summary reflect your position adequately, or can you clarify where you stand in this matter?

Jim

AlSaghbini, H. (2016, April 18). Re: Case study: Clarification of educational values. Message posted to https://my.ohecampus.com/lens/home?locale=en_us#.

Barnett, R. (2009). Knowing and becoming in the higher education curriculum. Studies in Higher Education, 34(4), 429–440. doi:10.1080/03075070902771978

Fugazzotto, S. J. (2009). Mission statements, physical space, and strategy in higher education. Innovative Higher Education, 34(5), 285–298. doi:10.1007/s10755-009-9118-z

Halstead, J. M., & Taylor, M. J. (1996). Values in education and education in values. (J. M. Halstead & M. J. Taylor, Eds.)Values in education and education in values. London: The Falmer Press.

Hitlin, S., & Piliavin, J. A. (2004). Values: Reviving a Dormant Concept. Annual Review of Sociology, 30(1), 359–393. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.30.012703.110640

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About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a private university.
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