Affiliates' News


Affiliate's News.  Updated 24.1.2024


Dear Affiliate

 

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you are doing to promote the IVET Foundation’s philosophy, through all that you are doing in your life.  Looking down our list of Affiliates, which will soon be published on this site,I feel deeply honoured that you all have chosen to join our movement for social change. You represent change-makers across all walks of life. Here's some news about some of you:


Professor Mark Williams - (Australia) 


Mark is Professor of Cognitive neuroscience and is based In Australia.  His book The Connected Species, helps us to understand why as a specie human kind will flourish through Values-based Living.  


Danny Mayson Kinder (Australia) 


Danny is Founder of b kinder foundation. See www.bkinderfoundation.org/ 


Richard Schwartz (USA)

 

Dick, who is the Founder of the Internal Family Systems (IFS), is seeing his transformational psychotherapy becoming a major method for supporting people in the world. It is helping thousands to release their own dynamic Self-energy.  Jane Hawkes (IVET Affiliate and Trustee) has been supporting Dick’s work, as an international program assistant (PA) both in the UK and abroad.  She is supporting an IFS training in the Middle East at this tragic time for that region. See https://ifs-institute.com/about-us/richard-c-schwartz-phd

 

Ava Shabnum Hasan (UK)

 

Ava is the Founder of Mentally Well Schools who produces outstanding resources for schools.  She works tirelessly to promote mental health and wellbeing. See https://mentallywellschools.co.uk


Professor Terry Lovat (Australia)

 

Terry has worked with the publisher Springer to produce the Second International Research Handbook on Values Education and Student Wellbeing.  You can find further info here https://link.springer.com/referencework/10.1007/978-3-031-24420-9

I can’t emphasise enough how important this book is, and I would like to acknowledge that some of you, including me, have contributed chapters.

 

Jason O’Rourke (UK)

 

Jason is the Headteacher of an outstanding values-based school.  Congratulations Jason on gaining a world profile promoting food education. See  https://www.tasteeducation.com

 

 

Floyd Woodrow (UK)

 

Floyd’s model for personal and organisational transformation, Compass for Life, is having a powerful impact on international businesses and other settings. I’m delighted to join Floyd’s team, when there is a need to take a deep dive into the East cardinal of the compass, which is Ethos.  Floyd has given me a platform to deepen the understanding of the role of ethics in our lives and organisations. See http://staging.compassforlife.co.uk


Marneta Viegas (UK)

 

Marneta is the Founder of Relax Kids and IVET’s latest Affiliate.  Relax Kids is a highly creative way of helping children to relax and be at one with themselves.  Her work is used in thousands of schools and her praises sung by countless teachers. See https://relaxkids.com


Gayle Avery (Australia)


Gaye is the CEO of the Institute of Sustainable Leadership in Sydney Australia.  See instituteforsustainableleadership.com 


Other News

 

I was deeply honoured to be invited to speak at the United Nations in Geneva last May.  I talked about the need for the world to embrace ethical leadership, without which the UN will, in my view, not achieve its sustainable goals.  I have just returned from Abu Dhabi where I was honoured to give a keynote on Values-based Education in the context of Islamic Values.

 

Congratulations to Andrei Stupu who spoke so engagingly at this year’s Values-based Education Conference.  Andrei, who lives in Rumania, has just been given a Fulbright scholarship.  His focus is on ethics, and he is an important contributor to my own thinking about ethical intelligence.

 

Finally, an important and exciting piece of news. In December 2022, a small group of us talked at a wonderful conference in Australia, set up by Suwanti and Ron Farmer, called Educating the Heart.  We decided that the time was right to form an international umbrella organisation that would be a place that all individuals and organisations involved in Values-based Education could gather and together have more impact on the world.  

 

This organisation has now been formed and is called GAVE (The Global Alliance for Values-based Education).  Nazreen Dasoo, who is Head of the Education at Johannesburg University is GAVE’s Chair.  She has vast experience and is the current Chair for UNESCO’s Values Education Committee.  

 

Wow! Such a lot of wonderful news that I am confident will bring hope to a troubled world.

 

Please keep in touch with me and make suggestions about how we can further strengthen our IVET Foundation. Together we are making a difference, especially by encouraging others to join us.

 

Warmly.

 

 

Dr Neil Hawkes

Founder of the IVET Foundation and Values-based Education (VbE)

https://www.ivetfoundation.com/home

 

 

Trustees: Neil Hawkes, Bridget Knight, Nigel Cohen, Jane Hawkes and Sue Jones


Affiliate Tim Amaral

Tim's article challenges us to see how current systems disadvantage the disadvantaged.  What do you think?

Tim has 30 years of teaching experience in the USA.  Through his personal qualities, and deep professional wisdom, he successfully  supports the  transformation of the lives of challenged and disaffected adult students. He has written this article for the Foundation, which we are sure you will find both challenging and impactful. You will sense how Tim has had to navigate a complex and flawed system that is not built on ensuring the self-worth of human beings. This is a great example from an Affiliate who lives his values and has impact on the lives of his students.   


Reforming Education is Not about Content, Cash, or Control.

It's about Need, Self-Worth, and Connection.

 

"You don't need an education to be of value.  You need an education because you are of value."  My name is Timothy Amaral, and that is the motto that guides my classroom where I teach high school equivalency skills to adult students of promise whose needs were not able to be met by the traditional educational system in the United States.  My students are often labeled as "challenging/challenged" by others, and in all honesty, they might scare the pants off many if not most teachers.  But the truth is that in their eyes, I can see the promise of family, I can see the promise of a childhood before trauma, I can see the promise of genius that is made, not born; and most of all, I can see the promise of a rich and vital connection to others that leads us to a deeper connection with our selves. It is my belief that it is a teacher's greatest responsibility to tend to the vulnerability that is required by real connection wherein there is a quickening of one's self-worth that simultaneously produces a kind of redemption and a kind of trajectory--a reclaiming of one's past and claiming of one's future.  Need, value, and connection are the real through-line of healthy, humane, ethical education, and in the end, produce the most impactful outcome of all--a bonded, civil society empowered in both critical thinking and compassion.   I speak of these lofty ideals as a way to highlight the all-too-common contrary experience of most of my students and many others who have had to navigate/survive the average American classroom.  This is not an exercise in feeling good.  It is about feeling one's own goodness.  The byproduct of knowing that something is fundamentally good is that we take care of what we consider good, and we don't take care of things that have a lesser value.  When we encounter the feeling of being made "less than," fear shows up.  Fear saturates education in America, and fear is the enemy of good learning.

 

As children, we first go to school with the naive expectation that the adults there may be new alloparents of a sort to take care of us.  We show up with our full range of natural human needs, emotions, and potentials; however, we are met with a system that ranges from exceptional on rare days to poignantly insufficient on its average days, to both covertly and overtly damaging on its all-too-common days. At this point, it is important to say now that no system can provide the perfect alloparent (Even parents can't be perfect parents).  Still, we can and must do better, and that can't be done without looking with clear and unflinching eyes at our shortcomings.  I am not speaking of the familiar mobius strip of accusations that pits parents against educators and educators against parents.  I'm talking about issues that are more opaque and which actually stoke that trauma-logic loop. 

 

The Numbers

Let's start with the practical and obvious.  Even if we limit ourselves to the most fundamental metrics of success for compulsory education, the shortcomings are clear:  approximately 52% of American adults lack literacy proficiency, 63% lack numeracy proficiency, and 18% failed to complete high school on time.  These numbers in real life represent millions and millions of our family members, friends, and fellow citizens who have to deal with absolutely unnecessary barriers for the basic navigation of the human experience. In fact, I don't think it's going too far to say that it looks as if education has to be compulsory in the U.S. because it is clearly so painful and insufficient, and many more children would drop out if they thought they could get away with it.  The reality is that most of us don't stay in school because it's such a wonderful thing in our lives; we stay because we have to. 

 

In the U.S., it is common knowledge that we are dealing with a system that is based on making laborers for an industrial market; we are not dealing with a system wherein human needs are normalized and embraced, wherein self-worth is central to everyone's experience, and wherein connection is considered as foundational to deeper learning as literacy is.  It's clear that for decades we have been hammering out workers, producers, and consumers, not people (who will do all those things anyway).  It is this ongoing disconnection from the reality of how we are built that is intuitively interpreted by every student who experiences it as a kind of rejection of the self. As dependent, tender souls, we show up to class, and what we expect to hear is "Your needs are normal, and as teachers, we'll do our best," but what we actually hear is "If you do not perform, you will not be loved and sustained by the tribe." What we expect to hear is "You have value in this world no matter what," but what we actually hear is "Power makes value, and those like you who have no power have no value."  What we expect is "I'll safely connect with you so you can learn all about life, yourself, and others," but what we actually hear is "Your vulnerable need for connection is a sign of weakness."  

 

The Betrayal of the Self

In spite of how excruciating this is, there is no denying that there are those who do well; but what does that mean--to do well in a model of behavior where your needs, inherent value, and sense of healthy connection are all sublimated if not pathologized?  What happens to your development as a person when the narrative you receive each day for hours on end is that your needfulness will face a spectrum of damage that ranges from lack to neglect to prohibition to abuse to trauma?  What story will you tell about yourself and the world?  What will you accept as normal?  If you internalize this narrative as a matter of survival, how will you treat others when you succeed and have the power?  Will you project it outward in a lack of compassion for others thereby continuing the cycle? "What they taught me to hate in me, I will hate in you."  When this translates into millions of individuals within a citizenry, you can understand why time and time again huge sections of the body politic are inclined to vote against others in a way that will simultaneously harm their own self-interests.  Ironically enough, this even plays out when it comes time to fund better education in one's own community.  How do you challenge the loyalty to such models once they have been internalized?  And worse yet, how do you find a place in the world when you don't do well inside this system?  

 

In the classroom, it's entirely natural for the human brain to become stressed and hopeless about this lack of congruency between one's real need and the false narrative.  School then becomes about threat and avoidance motivation instead of approach motivation.  When the teacher does respond to non-academic needs, students feel less "crazy" in that the humanity they know that are born with now gets validated, normalized and integrated into the educational experience.

 

Mistaking Power for Value 

When we mistake power for value we risk having our lives submerged in the undertow of warlord capitalism.  This rip current is so pervasive in the classroom that advertising and data collection run on both personal and school-provided electronic devices, academic trajectories are built for a ladder of success that more often than not leans against the wrong wall, and corporate financing of school board elections is exploited as an avenue for co-opting textbook content in a way that cynically switches science and critical thinking for anti-intellectualism, switches history for mythology, and switches creativity for utilitarianism or distraction.  Beyond the diffuse pain of unmet needs and the inexplicable feelings of abandonment, much of this is opaque to students.  Like fish who don't know that they are wet, our students don't know that their potential has been truncated and exploited by this model.  This is the tainted water we all swim in or drown in. 

 

Another upshot of this is that we are flooded with the belief that identity is nothing more than a commodity in the eyes the economic overseers.  In this torrent, self-worth is stripped from us and turned from the sacred into the profane.  As a veteran teacher, I now see the process of dropping out of school as a spiritual cry for help or at least an act of self-preservation by someone who is floundering in these dark waters.  When I validate the intentions (but not the behaviors) of my students who dropped, they will often feel relief to the point of tears at being understood for the first time.  When we establish self-worth as the foundation upon which all of our lessons are built, we shift from threat avoidance to an internal reward system, and the moral and ethical compass begins to reset.

 

Competition over Connection

When, on the altar of expedience and productivity, we sacrifice the trust-building vulnerability so necessary for connection, we increase the ambient threat in the classroom.  As students, we know that the experience is no longer about us and our needs.  The vulnerability that is necessary for connection is shut down, and this is the same vulnerability that is absolutely critical for deep learning (The brain can't relax under threat).  The presence of covert/overt threat and its negative impact on connection means that after years and years of acclimation, we can easily become numb to our own sense of abandonment and isolation as well as blind to our transferred contempt for others--especially for those who dare to show the same vulnerability we were taught to hate in ourselves.  In the average American school, there is no time for what is disparagingly called the "touchy-feely stuff" (the very qualities which ironically make us healthy and allow our best gifts to rise to the surface), and as a result, many of our children grow into emotionally malnourished adults desperate for belonging.  This is not by happenstance.  The amount of money, power, and influence impacting the lives of our children is obscene.  In the same way any predator in the wild knows that the odds of a successful hunt are increased when the targeted youngster is separated from the herd or flock, the political-industrial complex (that not only nurtures misery but profits from its expansion) knows that a break down in connection is an opportunity.   It is not uncommon for student devices to "coincidentally" start running advertisements connected to the lecture given in the classroom at the moment.  That is how ever-present the predatory marketplace for personal data has become.

 

Always there, but made more obvious by Covid-19, our modern isolation is but one symptom of the range of suffering (lack, neglect, prohibition, abuse, trauma) that primes our students for becoming adults who then take their place in the perfectly situated profiteering cycle of what I like to call narco-capitalism: lure, distract, supply, compel, monetize, repeat.  When caught up in this cycle from a young age, it is particularly hard to undo the behaviors and repair the damage.  And like all addictions, it is rigid, intense, irrational, and compulsive.  

 

Combine all of this with our lack of critical thinking, an abundance of faux-history in the clickbait universe, and often the blessing of many faith-based organizations and the stage is set for the addictive tribalism that rends our country in such a way as to keep the power players in power.  The first lesson that I teach in my social studies class is this: "Laws are made by those in power to keep themselves in power."  And in the U.S., money makes laws, and those laws allow neural pathways and reward circuits in the brain to be manipulated in order to set up lifelong compulsions that keep the money and power flowing in the same direction as always.

 

No, it's not a conspiracy; it's a business model that has gone viral because it is successful to the tune of trillions of dollars.  It's not just viral in schools, but in churches and NGOs too.  Just look at the overlapping Venn diagram of hypnotic code-word language that immediately identifies you to tribe and forces the brain to shift into involuntary threat responses that are only ameliorated by dopamine hits from tribalistic fantasies of inverting victimhood and superiority for monetized rage against the other.  The key thing that makes this different from conventional addictive behaviors is that instead of having a small community of "drinking buddies," we now have corporations who legitimize and propagate and millions of people who collude with us in the miserable illusion and self-servingly bless our behaviors while we destroy one another.   

 

In the classroom, the full weight of all this is incredibly burdensome.  It takes months of trust building with students just to begin to break the grip of this socio-political narcotic.  Keeping with the addiction metaphor, the amount of fear that floods the individual's system when the idealogy is challenged prompts the brain to shut down, and learning is made nearly impossible.  It's the equivalent of threatening to take a drug away from an addict just when they want it the most.  Particularly for those who have experienced suffering and trauma (those who are the most likely to drop from school), removing fear from the experience is critical.  Instead of thinking that connection is a weakness, we should be thinking that connection is actually necessary for good learning.   Human potential flowers most fully when done in good company.  

 

What Can Be Done?

All of this begs the question: As educators, we have human beings in front of us for eight hours a day starting as early as three years old with some continuing well into adulthood; how is it that we are powerless to change this system?  After more than thirty years in the classroom, I know with certainty that the real answer is that we are actually not powerless.  With every single interaction, we have a chance to be responsive to needs, reflective of worth, and connected at a humane level.

 

In some cases, we spend more waking hours with some children than the parents do.  We cannot wait for others to do what we should be doing in every interaction with our students, nor should we be asking for permission. If we stay aligned with or capitulate to the old industrial model, we need to ask ourselves hard questions about our own perpetuation of the dark waters within our country, our communities, our schools and ourselves.  

 

I am fully aware of all the pressures placed upon those of us who do the job.  I am also aware that it is tempting to frame this as an issue of finding the time to fit this into a busy schedule as if it were an exceptional adendum instead of the norm for how we interact with ourselves and others.  It bears repeating--normalizing and responding to need, putting self-worth before self-esteem, and welcoming the vulnerability of connection can all be part of the daily flow and can all be integrated into every exchange. We can clean up the water we swim in.  All three take no more time out of an educator's day than any other conversation, lecture, assignment or test.  In fact, I find myself with more time for solid academics because the sense of healthy community reduces threat, distraction and behavioral issues.  My students progress from extremely low levels of literacy and numeracy to being college ready.  That is in spite of facing issues varied as physical disabilities, mental health concerns, homelessness, incarceration problems, addiction, immigration, learning disabilities, poverty and very, very complex trauma (the most commonly shared background by the way).  Most graduates leave to go on to college and then to university, and their children follow them on the same path later because now it's normal in their family.  The social outcomes are even better because we follow this mantra:  "If you want to change the world, start with your community.  If you want to change your community, start with your home.  If you want to change your home, start with yourself."  In spite of being part of a larger system, we've found our starting place.  We clean our waters first.