An Interview with…Dr Neil Hawkes, Values-based Education

Richard Hull, Director, Talk The Talk

Dr. Neil Hawkes is the founder of Values-based Education – a movement for cultural transformation. He has pioneered a new vision of education, which is practised around the world. Values-based Education inspires adults and pupils to adopt and live positive human values.
He recently chatted with Talk The Talk about education, communication and positive values.
You once said to me that communicative competence is at the heart of good relationships… How important do you consider the promotion of positive
communication values within schools to be?
I am a keen people watcher. I have always been reflective about my behaviour and that of others. Why is it some people seem to have an ease of communication, which leads to them having more opportunities to build positive relationships? When this communicative competence is underpinned by positive values such as trust and respect then people behave more authentically and build relational trust.
Therefore I think it is vital that students are given every opportunity to build communicative competence. A research project in Australia showed that this was a major outcome of Values-based Education (VbE).
Values-based Education inspires adults and pupils to adopt and live positive human values. Could you please tell us a little more about your promotion of these values in schools and the positive effects that you have seen?
Over the last twenty years schools have been adopting the philosophy and practices of VbE. The work really started at West Kidlington School in Oxfordshire that became the first school to underpin everything it did with universal positive human values.
The work soon spread to other schools that saw its benefits. Now there are about 20% of schools in this country that would call themselves values-based schools. What makes it so successful is unlike most of education it is not imposition led but is the result of the school’s community agreeing to live the values that it chooses. My book, From My Heart, transforming lives through values explains in detail how to achieve a values-based school. The success of VbE can be seen in the incredible spread of the work throughout the world.
Teachers today have so many things to think about. I recently read an article by Dr. Tina Boogren that mentioned that teachers make more minute-by-minute decisions than brain surgeons. Why should teachers find the time to focus on communication and positive values for example, when they have so many other things to do that they are directly accountable for?
A great question. The simple answer is that VbE magically decreases workload as behaviour and relationships are so improved by the process. Everyone is less stressed, happier and morale is positive.
Today’s youth are the solution to tomorrow’s problems. What advice would you give to educators to best nurture today’s youth?
Let young people nurture their authentic selves. Never criticise them as people but help them to develop all the positive aspects of themselves. Key role of a teacher is to help the students to release their inner creative dynamic.
If we were sitting together a year from now, celebrating a major change in education in the United Kingdom, what would that change be and why would it be so important?
That every school had become a values- based school. This would mean that we were nurturing a generation of young people who would be self-led and would make a fantastic contribution to the world’s future.

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