Values Go to School: Exploring Ethics with Children

Values Go to School: Exploring Ethics with Children, Jonathan Diamond Associates in association with the faculty of the Child Development Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, VHS $24.95, DVD $29.95

Ever since I viewed a chorus of kindergarten-age coaches shouting “Solve your problem!” to clashing classmates, I’ve wanted to steal their line and holler the same to the conflict-seekers in my life. Values Go to School, a thoughtfully constructed 27-minute video presentation, shows how they learned problem-solving skills.

The video includes four metropolitan New York area schools, featuring suburban and urban classrooms from kindergarten through high school. Two of the featured schools, Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School and Satellite Academy High School, are affiliated with or have connections to CES. Scenes of students and teachers engaged in conversation around issues of friendship, race, culture, and personal responsibility are juxtaposed with moments with students at home with their families; commentary from faculty members of Sarah Lawrence College’s Child Development Institute is also included. The message is clear: a child’s values first take shape at home. The video’s final segment, at Satellite Academy High School, shows most vividly how schools can interrupt negative patterns, create new insight and habits, and change students’ lives.

Families, educators, and students can use Values Go to School to spark conversations about why it’s important to talk about values at school and how to do it. In Values Go to School, students’ lives serve as content; respect for students and their experience is immediately clear. Being with students as they talk with each other and caring adults about their lives is emotionally powerful (as you watch, be sure that your Kleenex is nearby). “Right now, I’m just a little kid growing up in a big world, and I’m just trying to get used to it,” says a sixth grader at Fannie Lou Hamer Middle School. He says it with hope, because he’s in a school that knows, respects, and is prepared to support him.

Values Go to School can be ordered at or by calling 1-888-503-2291.