MECS Blog

Values for Middle School

Values for Middle School

Thursday, 22 February 2018  | Karissa - Assistant Principal - Secondary

In the teen years, part of the cognitive development that occurs is related to that of morals and values; it is a time when the young person is able to think about and define their own morals and values, rather than following (or not following) a set of ‘rules’ given to them by others. Questioning adult values and/or the values they’ve been ‘given’ is a part of this development. As this questioning is taking place, it is really important that we are explicitly teaching positive Christian values that are perhaps counter-cultural to the values that young people will be exposed to through the media and wider society. Research suggests that those who grow up with strong, consistent and positive values are happier, do better in school and are more likely to contribute to society; the values and lessons we teach our teenagers will shape the adults they become.

For many years the Middle School staff have wrestled with, focussed on and aimed to articulate their hopes and understandings of ‘who we want Middle School students to be’. The staff team have extensive study on what ‘makes teenagers tick’, ‘how to teach teenagers effectively’ and explored various ways of getting the most out of our students, investing in their ‘whole person’ development and maintaining a positive school culture. One element of this study, and articulation of desired culture, was to develop a ‘catch phrase’ to summarise our goals/ideas/thinking. (Like ‘Strong Hearts, Strong Minds’ in our Primary School, and ‘Faithful Learning, Faithful Living’ in our Senior School). Our struggles to articulate what we hoped for into a few simple words came down to the huge diversity of our audience; teenagers!  

Spanning across the three year levels, students within the Middle School range anywhere from 11 to 16 years old. That is a lot of years of development (body and brain) all contained within the walls of the Middle School! 

Therefore, after another series of meetings and discussions at the end of 2017, it was decided that a ‘catch phrase’ just wasn’t going to cut it. Rather, we made the decision to clearly articulate the values that drive the culture we are trying to create in the Middle School; the values that underpin our rules and expectations and that we hope each and every student will learn to emulate throughout their time in Middle School and beyond. 

After many hours of deliberation, the values of Humility, Thankfulness, Self Control, Cooperation and Adventurousness were chosen for their relevance to all young people. Whether displaying anxiety, impulsiveness, selfishness, poor self-esteem or emanating confidence, positive self-esteem and a growth mindset… each of these values meets the individual where they’re at, forms a wonderful base for rules and expectations, and assists to clearly articulate the culture we are trying to create in the Middle School.  

So what are these values about?

Humility

Often misunderstood or misinterpreted, ‘true humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less’ (CS Lewis). It is the quality of being courteously respectful of others. Acting with humility is not about denying our own value or self worth. Rather, it affirms the inherent worth of others. 

Thankfulness

Thankfulness is a wholehearted response. It stems from a consciousness of God’s gifts and blessings. It is a joyfulness that erupts into praise. Paul frequently encourages us in the Bible to ‘be thankful’ (Colossians 3:15), to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and says that our lives should ‘overflow with thankfulness’ (Colossians 2:7). 

“God gave you the gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you?” Anon

Self-Control

To think before we act. Self-control is about acting with our ‘wise mind’ rather than with our immediate highly emotional/irrational or highly reserved mindset. Self-control is the ability to control our own behaviour; sometimes this might also include ‘controlling’ our immediate response to ‘run in fear’ of a challenge. 

Cooperation

A willingness and ability to work with others to accomplish a common goal. To maintain positive relationships with family, teachers and peers. It is about taking responsibility for the part we play in helping to bring out the best in all. Cooperation is welcoming, open, works within guidelines, listens and values. 

Adventurousness

To stretch ourselves beyond our comfort zone. It is about taking risks (in learning and experiences) within the safety of the school environment. It is not about recklessness, but rather it is about challenging ourselves and maintaining a growth mindset. 

I look forward to seeing the ways in which the ‘explicit’ teaching of these values, along with some creative visual reminders impact the culture of the Middle School and the lives of our precious young people.  

The hope and prayer of the Middle School staff and myself is that these values will also resonate with you; that you will choose to live them out and hold them in high regard in your own homes. 

Just as students in the Middle School need to be guided academically, so too they must be guided in the values which we would like them to live out; those values that mirror Christ, bring praise to God and equip us to seek God’s Kingdom in education. 


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