Education is the most important tool to develop our nation. Why is it so important? Because education leads to increased intelligence, skills and cognitive aspects of society. Education not only improves the cognitive aspects of society, it also builds the character of a nation. Value Clarification Technique (VCT) has become the solution to increasing both the cognitive and character aspects of student learning in my class. Value Clarification Technique is a method of learning which helps to find the essential values in our life and to provide our students with exercises to help them choose the best solution in any moral dilemma.
Before I share an example of VCT in my civic education learning, I will share the purposes of VCT for our students. Firstly, with VCT, teachers can internalize the values of life for students with the students’ participation in discussion. Students can also give statements, questions, opinions and new ideas to help find the best solution of the problem or dilemma and to help other students to find the essential values of these moral dilemmas. Besides that, VCT helps to build the spirit of our students and helps them to become students who are both “head smart” and “heart smart”.
The challenging process of the VCT application for our learning is the discernment process. Discernment is the process of recognizing and discerning the difference between the kindness and the badness in order to solve a problem. It is very difficult to make the best decision, but I want to help you to find a method to choose the best decision in the frame of problem solving.
St. Ignatius divided the essential values of our life. What does this mean? In this concept, he shared that the ultimate goals of life must be directed to God (Ad Maiorem De Gloriam), and everything which supports our life has to be used for God (AMDG), for the greater good of humanity and ensure a peaceful world. Money, career, job position, personal assets and life are the means to achieving the true goals (AMDG). If we take money, career, job position and personal assets as the end goals, the true goals cannot be achieved. This is the principle which should direct our choice in the discernment process. And the important message from St. Ignatius is that, if the means to achieving our true goals turn us away from God, we must have the commitment and courage to leave these means and turn back towards God.
In order to support VCT learning in the class, teachers must have the stimulant to encourage the participation and motivation of students, for example with interesting case studies or problems which will prompt the students to think and to feel. Stimulants for VCT can come from a story, question and statement which will encourage the students to think, feel and ultimately to achieve self-awareness and the ability to make the best decision to find a solution for the problem in line with AMDG.
I will give an example of a stimulant story which could make our students think, feel and become aware.
John married Antonia in 1990. In 2005, Antonia became sick and was diagnosed with cancer of the hand. This situation placed a lot of pressure on John’s family. John panicked and became confused as he thought about his wife’s illness. In 2006, John met a doctor who had medicine to cure his wife’s cancer. The doctor gave the medicine a price of US$ 1000, and he said this price was final and couldn’t not be bargained. John only had US$ 100, and John tried everything he could to get enough money for this medicine, but to no avail. The money which John struggled to collect everyday was not enough to buy the medicine. Given the situation, John finally decided to steal the medicine from the doctor to cure his wife.
With this story, teachers can give the following stimulant questions to motivate the ability of students to think, feel and choose the best solution to solve this problem. For example:
- If you were John, what do you think the best decision would be between stealing the medicine or not? if John didn’t steal the medicine his wife would die. But if John stole the medicine, he would break the law and go against the value of religion.
- If you were the doctor, what would you do?
- What would your decision be to solve this problem?
This is the method to help build the capability of critical thinking, moral feeling, discernment and character of our students. With Value Clarification Technique I hope we can develop our students to become smart in heart, smart in mind, and able to make the best decision which directs us to God, humanity and a peaceful world. Thank you.