Values education in Drustu folk school in the context of sustainable development

Ojars Rode, Drustu folk school, and Elfrīda Krastiņa Daugavpils University, Latvia


Nowadays in our informationally fulfilled environment, it is important to help children to evaluate the various points of view and to build their own system of values. Values education is closely related to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of the society.

Drustu folk school (a private school in Latvia) for already 16 years has been engaged in creation of a values educational environment based on Latvian folk traditions. We incite our pupils to get aware of their sense of life and values by encouraging their internal motivation to develop the system of values and to live according to it.

The goal of this research is to evaluate the impact of values educational environment on a child's understanding of the values. Therefore, we have analyzed pupils' observation data, the results of their activities regarding the values, by using the content analysis of children’s creative works, as well as the survey and unfinished sentences methods.

The article reveals the way how a purposefully organized values teaching process may contribute to strengthen the children's values in all the aspects of sustainable development, i.e. cultural, social, ecological and economic.

Keywords: Sustainable development; sustainable education; cultural, social, ecological aspects; values; value education; values orientated learning process.


In the context of sustainable development, the main task of school is to prepare not only intelligent, but also good people.

The decline of interest in human values in the non-sustainable society (Salīte, 2009) has been revealed by philosophers already since the beginning of the last century. So, for example, P. Jurevičs (1998) analyzing the processes of culture, establishes that the material wealth often takes a special place in the creating of aesthetic values. According to P. Jurevičs (1998: 28-37), things themselves do not express ".. the need of a human soul whose fulfillment makes people feel happy... Our main wish is to fulfill our sense of life..."

Pauls Dāle (1994) characterizes people without awareness of their sense of life as fragmented and broken down identities, which are kept under the power of passions and impulses. He recognizes that a nation can accomplish its mission if it has a strong economy. However it may do it even better, in case it creates and maintains spiritual values.

For a half the century there have not been noticed any positive changes in this field. The scientists (Rubene, 1990) approve that we establish an increasing public attention to material well-being to the detriment of human nature expressing values in Europe. A. Pipere (1999, 63) also perceives the degradation. She characterizes the 20th century as a period of "cataclysms without precedent", when all the means are used to "transform the unethical into ethical" (Salīte, 2009, 8).

Nowadays educational system produces "market" items, and its main task is to create the greatest possible value-added (competitiveness). People are moving away from ethical, spiritual ideals and this process is reinforced by the consumer philosophy, which is typical to the market economy, or hedonism philosophy, as Jurevičs calls it. The pleasure of life (the cult of things, sexual needs, etc.) has become the main value, the sense of life. A. Līdaka (2005) notes in her research on values influencing factors, that the society is dominated by the cult of money and belongings, that many families have slight spiritual values or do not find the time for them. Thus, neither love, nor goodness and friendship do not appear in the values range of one third of 300 respondents.

Children feel distracted due to these problems of the world that surrounds them (Pipere, 1999). At best, they admit that money is the highest value of the life. State Employment Agency data show that only 23% of the nine form students are able to indicate their future profession.

In the context of sustainable development of the society (Salīte, 2002, 2008; Belousa, 2002) it is important to attain that the cultural, the ecological, the social and the economic dimensions of sustainability could develop in a balanced way. The cultural aspect is associated with cultural heritage, traditions and values, their conservation and development. Therefore, it is also associated with the community's identity. The social aspect is related to our harmonious integration into ecosystem and into the society. It considers each individual's ability to realize his or her place in the society, sense of life and ability to co-operate and to accomplish ourselves in the process of the development of the society. The economic aspect is associated with economic growth, employment, material quality of life, etc. Nowadays, the obvious dominance of the economic aspect has oppressed all the other aspects, so depreciating the values of other dimensions. The environmental aspect (Laizāne, 2009; Valbis, 2006) relates to morality of human action, with the understanding that everything is the one (Buiķis, 2001).

The unity (oneness) of the cultural, the ecological, the social and the economic dimensions forms a holistic vision of the world. Holism as a philosophical system is not closed and complete, therefore understanding of wholeness has been developing and growing up with new ideas.

What are the considerations that make the modern science to seek for new paradigms of understanding the world? Let us consider just a few theses. E. Siliņš (1999, 362) writes: "Nowadays we should renounce the partiality of reductionist thinking and try to look at the world from the holistic point of view." He also establishes that complex systems like the society and individuals are determined only when they are close to balance, but more often they are statistically undetermined. "New system features appear suddenly in the unbalanced system. We should use a holistic approach to describe them," notes E. Siliņš (1999, 361). Modern scientists (D. Iļjiško, 1999, K. Burāne, 2002) more and more often confirm the necessity to recognize that the critical, creative mind and the feeling heart are complimentary. The studies of Geikina (2006) and Reinvalds (2009) which analyze holistic approach to values education, consider the importance of religious aspect of education and reveal that the Christian ethics is the basis for teaching of such values as responsibility, empathy, tolerance, etc..

Values education

A. Broks (2005) describes a model of human activities. He notes that person's spiritual and material needs are conformed to his main essence. Person holds both physical and mental strengths, energy, he possesses the internal motivation. This internal motivation creates the action that is lead by the strength of mind. The result of this action makes us happy, because we have managed to express ourselves. A. Broks believes that today we ''have got stuck '' at the knowledge acquisition stage, while the values orientation or attitudes are being neglected.

J. Vanhear and P.J. Pace (2008) expess similar considerations. They conclude that the challenge of sustainable education is an integration of knowledge with social values and ethical experience. We should unite our mind, feelings and behavior in one wholeness. This process cannot be imagined without values orientation. Values orientation (Murniece, 1998) is determined by a person's self esteem and the system of his attitudes. The task of school is to build it up.

Values that are especially important nowadays are the "mental" and the ideal ones (Dāle, in 1994; Beļickis, 2000, Līdaka, 2006; Geikina, 2006; Valbis, 2006). They are relevant for the inner world of young people, for the harmony they need to create their attitudes towards the outer world.

So what is spirituality? Belousa (2002) defines it in a very brief and accurate way as an ability to cognize ourselves and to discover our true nature. J. Valbis proposes a broader definition (2006, 112): "Spirituality is an attitude of an individual which is based on a community and traditions toward what is or what is supposed to be the highest sense, the highest value and the highest truth that can be acquired in our quest for spiritual wisdom."

The foregoing points make us conclude that spirituality is not related only to the mind and to the knowledge. The holistic perception also allows relating the spirituality to the heart, that is still quite unusual category for science (Belousa, 2002, Burāne, 2002). The heart let us express our sensitivity, sincerity, respect, gratitude, trust, friendship, tolerance, empathy, sympathy, optimism, joy, love, etc. The mind lets us to realize these spiritual issues; however without emotional framework this understanding cannot reveal the sense of human nature. The same approach can be applied to our consciousness - it is not defined only by the mind but also by our heart education. If we want to realize the meaning of wholeness, we should feel it internally. Holistic feeling and conscience are very closely related categories. In the light of the wholeness position, the educational process should work with both, i.e. with the mental "education" and with the soul or heart "education." In case if the understanding comes just from the mind, the external motivation determine our actions. If external conditions or environment are changed, people change their attitudes. For example, we can make our mind understand that it is good to sort wastes into the containers of different colors. If there is a lack of containers and of the internal motivation, in the absence of a sense of wholeness, integrity a person will contaminate the environment again. On its turn, the sense of integrity cannot neither appear nor exist without heart education.

"The most important for making soul wide and strong is to have full and lasting affection to the true values, a commitment to a major challenge, to serving a higher law" writes Dāle (1994.49).


The range of values is broad (I Beļickis, 2000), it varies from elementary empirical everyday facts to transcendental issues. However, the higher position in the value priority scale is accorded to spiritual values. The main feature of the spiritual values according to I. Beļickis is their eternity. According to him the spiritual values are truth, beauty, morality, and holiness – the ones that include ethical, aesthetic and intellectual experience. In contrast to them, he mentions brutish values: sensual pleasures, physical well-being, material needs, etc.

Researchers try to divide the values into the groups. A. Broks (2002) calls all the values together for living-ready architecture. He includes in it five categories: Activity - initiative, assiduity, strenuous life , etc.; Independence - self confidence, self esteem, self-actuating , etc., Morality (feelings) - the attitudes and the skills to apply these attitudes in our life; Wisdom (mind) - the knowledge and the skills to apply this knowledge in our life; Cooperation - sociability, helpfulness, tolerance, etc..

The Living Ethics (Frolova, 1999) divides values into four groups: (1) Serving for the general benefit - sense of duty , public activity, initiative, readiness to serve humanity, selflessness, etc., (2) Heart qualities - unity, respect, politeness, trust, loyalty, friendship, tolerance, empathy, sympathy, love, conscience, etc., (3) Spirit force - patience, self-control, virility, capacity to overpass difficulties, etc., (4) Wisdom - honesty, veracity, sense of moderation, prudence, the ability to analyze, synthesize.

Kaļčičs (2004) speaks of five basic values: Wisdom, Love, Goodness, Justice, Truth.

G. Bēbedelis (2001) describes five groups of values: Love, Truth, Serving, Peace, Non-violence.

A. Līdaka (2005) marks out three groups of values: (1) Values related to a person's individual development, (2) Values that determine the person's interaction with others, and (3) Values which define relations between nations and peoples.

Š.Amošvili (2007) distinguishes "heart" qualities like love, noble-mindedness, conscience. T.Zeiferts (1993) finds in Latvian folk traditions such values as harmony, sensitivity, sincerity, love, loveliness. U. Heinss (1993) mentions generosity, love for parents, compassion, goodness. Kaļčičs (2004) writes : "Love is the basis of the life. It comes from the heart. That is why our main task today is heart education... "

Thus, if we compare the groups of values in works of different authors, we can observe many similarities in the names of the groups as well as their content. We have named the groups of values as following: Heart - love, generosity, respect, love of parents, friendship, and willingness to help, tolerance, empathy, compassion, kindness, goodness, happiness, gentleness, ability to forgive, loveliness, joy, patience, caring (for all living), conscience, sincerity, etc. Mind - openness, exactness, respect for all the religions, beauty, wisdom, honesty, intuition, optimism, truth, ability to differentiate, the ability to analyze, synthesize, self-analysis, perspicacity, evaluation capacity, the search for knowledge, etc.; Harmony - meditation, satisfaction, sobriety, discipline, strength, calmness, ability to resolve conflicts, time-value sense, independence, patience, self-control, duty, concord, the ability to focus, simplicity, etc..; Action - freedom, fearlessness, courage, respect for others, tolerance for the values of other cultures, respect for property, democracy, mental and physical health, sense of humor, understanding, loyalty, national consciousness, non-violence, non-judgment, self-control ability, autonomy, cooperation, etc.; Activity - responsibility, the fight against evil, diligence, labor virtue, love of work, untiring working instinct, and willingness to serve the mankind, initiative, perseverance, selflessness, dedication, creativity, public activity, diligence, ability to self-devotion.

Values education and the ways of its realization

According to A. Broks (2005), one of the aims of educational activity is to form the attitudes or to orientate values. Values orientated learning denotes a completely new paradigm in the education. Values education implies to teach or to learn to delimitate the essential and the non-essential, to distinguish the important things from the non-important ones in human life (Kravale, 2002). Kravale, who studies the values of young people, concludes that understanding of personal values contributes to the stability of character, to the purposefulness of action, and to the awareness of the sense of life.

The content of values education is values (Geikina, 2006). Values education provides personal spiritual and moral development. As a result, it contributes to formation of members of the sustainable society, who will be able not only to integrate harmoniously into the ecosystem, and the community, but he also to develop creatively its cultural values and the economy.

Values education can be realized either (1) by teaching values or (2) by providing an appropriate studying (living) environment (Līdaka, 2006).

1) There are two ways of teaching values: direct and indirect one. The direct values teaching supposes to make students understand the content of values categories, indicating perceptively what is good, and what is bad, and so on. The indirect ways actually should not be called for teaching, but for encouragement, discovery process of values that already exist in the hearts of children. J. Korčaks (1991: 22) writes: "... fortunately for the mankind, we can not compel children to comply with our educational influences and didactic attacks that are directed against their sanity and strong human will." The teacher can help a child to reveal what is hidden inside of him, by providing appropriate situations, which let him share other people's experiences, get them (learn them) to think, to be attentive, sensitive, selfless, helpful, which encourage him to explore the world.

(2) The school environment (Korčaks, 1991; Iliško, 1999; Dupkevičs, 2006; Guda, 2009; Valbis, 2006), in values education consists, first of all, of the physical space (objects, their location, materials, interior design, climate, acoustics, lighting, noise level, etc) which is a relatively inactive part. Secondly, the active part consists of people and the relations they form (inter-human relations and relations between people and objects in physical space). Thus, the second dimension is the social, psychological, and spiritual space.

Korčaks, describing the living environment of a child, distinguishes the following aspects: dogmatic, high-principled, life satisfaction and career environment. As attested by Daugavpils University researches in 2008 (DU, 2008), the most favorable environment for child's expression are the high-principled and life satisfaction ones. These environments are characterized by children's autonomy, mental balance, enthusiasm, sensitivity, self-esteem. Besides, personality of a teacher (personal qualities, experience, emotional world, philosophy) is of the great importance for a child at school. Regarding the role of teacher in the 21th century, A. Pipere (1999) as well as Amonašvili (2007) and Līdaka (2006), emphasizes his importance in the creation of the educational environment. Only the integrity categories orientated person, who is motivated to love, who is free and who holds high ethical values can be a teacher.

Interface environment or working environment is a place where the values system of children is built and where their values are found in the interaction process with the world. If the environment provides the child enough freedom to take and to express, then he does not have to hide behind the standards of courtesy, rules of conduct, traditions. Therefore, it allows him to act freely according to his own values. Thus, he applies them in his everyday life and builds his own experience. Individuals are characterized by internal force, which is seeking ways of self-accomplishment (Kroičs, Vucenlazdāns, 2002). Recognizing this personal identity's evolutionary force, we should provide that the environment promotes the individual self development using self-respect, self-esteem, and self-control mechanisms. The way Korčaks (1991: 21) characterized education more than half a century ago can be also applied to the current situation: "... the modern education is thought to make the child convenient, and so gradually, step by step it tries to lull, to oppress, to disable the child's will and freedom, his force of spirit." The " freedom" in Korčaks' understanding is the possibility to act according to the individual will, stimulated by his own instinct. Dāle (1994), Fihte (1991) and Hjūms (1987) have similar considerations: they give us two important concepts related to freedom, i.e. the mission, and the will. Dāle calls the "will" for the valuable personal organizing center. A. Pipere (1999) describes mentally free people as a personalities who are able to live freely and in any circumstances act in accordance with their choice, knowing that everyone has the right to decide how to live his life. In their turn, L.Tolstoy (1964) and R.Šteiners (2005) found out that the intrinsic nature of human will (the highest, and the true one) is not produced in the human socialization period, but it is already given to us in the moment of our birth. Thus the concept of freedom is compatible with what a child already possess and it corresponds to his highest (Fihte, 1991) nature. In other words, freedom is a possibility to realize in this world our individual entity (Rode, 2009).

Values education experience in Drustu folk school

Drustu folk school is a private school in Latvia where the values orientated learning process is launched with its founding date, and now we have already accumulated 16 years experience. The aim and the ambition of the founders were to create a lifelong learning institution that complies with the latest knowledge of pedagogy and psychology sciences. Since the first days at the folk school, working with preschool children we tried to realize a positive attitude atmosphere, to form family relationships between pupils and teachers. We involved teachers and parents who are familiar with the approaches of human pedagogy. The result was not long to wait. Some examples: we observed that children do not need supervision - they are able to work well and for quite a long time without teacher's presence (a positive attitude to work). We have never had violence expressions at school; the children were open-minded, friendly with each other and towards teachers. Children freely communicate with school guests, they always have their own opinions.

The values education in Drustu folk school is implemented using both values education methods in order to cover all aspects of the development of sustainable society:
- specially organized physical and mental environment for learning – the ecological, social, economic aspect;
- Latvian folk heritage (folklore, seasonal traditions, folk crafts) - cultural, social and economic aspect;
- school rituals (cultural and social dimensions);
- specific hours of thinking (holistic perception).

The physical and spiritual learning environment in Folk school

The learning environment was organized to create the optimum conditions for the indirect assimilation of values. So it supposed the conditions for self-evaluation, for forming relationships, for contemplation. It should have been an environment to meet each individual needs, to be emotionally balanced, to lead to pleasure of work, as well as free from the formalism and stressful situations (Iļiško, 1999 ).

The environment of Drustu folk school (Rode and Krastiņa, 2008) is specific by its arrangement of the physical space. Pupils' and teacher's desks are arranged in a circle. The SWOT analysis of learning environmental shows that the sitting in the circle promotes collaboration. Firstly, it helps to provide favorable conditions for communicating: everybody is in the same spatial positions (the teacher too), so nobody is ahead or in the back, in the first or in the second plan; everybody is equal; direct eye contact; no barriers; well can see and hear each other well. Secondly, such an environment requires less energy intensity. If the teacher is in the circle together with pupils, he can easily reach everybody, he can better see children - no one can hide behind the back of the other. Thirdly, it creates favorable conditions for mutual assistance, social values for survival, a positive emotional atmosphere of support. Fourthly, it promotes self education. The independent learning strengthens the pupils' self-organization forces (Pipere, 1999), it makes them to assume responsibility for learning because a teacher is here only as an advisor, a supporter.

One of the elements of stress in schools is a time limit. The small number of children in Drustu folk school allows maintaining a system where pupils define the length of lessons together with the teacher. The time that a child is able to focus on the work depends on many factors: environment, his mood and interest, his fatigue, his age, etc. .. According to our experience, we can entrust to children to determine the length of a lesson. In the result we make disappear the emotional stress of waiting the school bell. The children have always the opportunity to complete the work, as the completed job creates joy, inner motivation (love of the work). The removal of the time limit reduces also the teacher's stress to be late for a lesson, not to have enough time to finish the curricula.

In ordinary schools, the standard curricula, and the strict time limit defined for different subjects do not allow to take into consideration individual pupils' abilities, capacities. It creates much stress, and moreover, pupils who cannot fit into the prescribed period, do not reveal their true abilities at all. It is typical of these children to have either too low self-esteem (I can not (!), I am not capable (!)) or too high self-esteem (for those who overtake the others: I do not have to learn, as I already know better and can do better than others). In Drustu folk school we have removed the time limit for a subject or a curricula learning. This allows following each pupil's ability in one or the other subject, or any other circumstances. For example, pupils can continue their studies without psychological stress even though they are out of program's time limits (due to a disease or some child's special features). On the other hand, if children's capabilities are greater, they can go ahead without waiting, in order to master the subject either faster, or deeper.

The experience of Drustu folk school shows that the removal of time limit for a lesson and for the a subject or a curricula learning allows to individualize the learning process. Besides, we have introduced pupils' results record system. At the beginning of the school year, children together with the teacher establish a subject matter learning schedule intending self-evaluation possibilities for each topic. During the school year this schedule is controlled and adjusted according to each child's real abilities. Results record system enables both children and parents to get a clear idea of what is already acquired and what is still to follow. Results record system allows leaving pupils for the second year in the same form. Thus we do not require a child to learn again what he has once already learned. This system allows him to go ahead with the subjects that he has acquired successfully and to pass to the next degrees, and at any time during the school year to adjust the subjects where left behind. One more advantage of the results record system is that children, according to their interests (internal motivation) can proactively learn subjects that are not destined for his age group.

For the ecological dimension of values of education it is very important to involve pupils in environmental studies. Since 10 years Drustu folk school has created a special nature workshop "Green Path". It confirmed the outdoor educators Larss Uve Dalgren's and Anders Ščepanskis (2007: 25) statements that the diversity of outdoor environment can not be replaced by the closed space of a classroom. They write: "The natural environment reaches a child's senses much more strongly and more directly than any other medium." The interaction passes by participation, empathy, emotions, sensual experience awaken directly by the values object (Tunne, 1997), in an authentic environment.

This natural workshop is arranged outside the village, at a picturesque bank of river (Gauja) and occupies more than ten hectares. The central place is taken by sacred hill Piltiņkalns with a broad landscape view on meadows, forests, lakes. The hill is under the state protection like an archeological and natural object. The hill is specially arranged for traditional seasonal and other folk festivities celebrations. There is a source at the foot of the hills, under a centenarian spruce tree.

Then "Green Path" find its follow-up at the Gauja floodplain grasslands with very rich flora ant rare and biologically protected plants. Several settlements of the ancient history were built at the bend of the forest. There are the Mesolithic, the Neolithic, the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age houses equipped with the appropriate ancient working and hunting accessories. During the natural workshops of Drustu folk school pupils get familiar with ancient history, folk traditions, the natural world by living themselves through the ages. So they work with the appropriate historical tools, test the hunting traps, work in the 'the kitchen' of the Stone age, practice ancient technology of construction, as well as pottery, cooking, etc.

The teacher's personality has a great influence at the school environment. This spiritual influence is formed according to the teacher's sense of freedom and responsibility. It is characterized by mutual cooperation atmosphere that stimulates a child's self-development (Muhameģjanova, 2006). The teacher's role in this environment is to promotes positive values and to motivate pupils for independent learning. A teacher in Drustu folk school is part of the learning environment.

Folk Heritage values

Cultural values are revealed in evaluative activities. This can happen when we are "next" to the values, or when we are "inside" them. Drustu folk school has chosen to make emphasis on being "inside" values: working in traditional crafts workshops, singing folk songs, playing music, as well as preparing and celebrating the traditional seasonal festivities (Murniece, 1998; Jakubova & Davidov, 2002).

There is a number of contemporary studies (Suharevs, 1996; Arutjuņans, 1999; Lebedev, 2003; Konstantinova, etc., 2006;) confirming K. Young's (1990: 5) statement that, "Archetypes have always been and still remain the soul-life forces who want to be taken seriously .. want to be recognised ..."

Auseklis (J. Anspaks and others, 1991: 155), a teacher and an active participant of the first Latvian national awakening and said half a century ago: "... there is no doubt that folk songs have right to be introduced in our school.". To his mind, teaching folk songs at schools can achieve several purposes: Aesthetic purpose - to learn aesthetic laws; Mental purpose - virtuous attitude for the environment; Idealistic purpose - education of beautiful ideals; Historical purpose - folk songs are the best expression of the people's history; Formalistic purpose - the development of thinking. Dale (1994) recognizes that the aesthetical beauty has also his role in the spiritual education.

Latvian folk heritage is a multi-layered, and opulent, it is a value in itself. In Drustu folk school we currently use seasonal customs, folk songs and singing, music, folk crafts. The folk crafts workshops at school allow you to work with such natural materials as wood, clay, water, wool, flax, cotton, metal. The importance of folk crafts workshops is measured not only by its aesthetical values (form, color, compositions of colors, proportions, patterns, diversity of forms). They include also mental values because beauty objects encourage to look for the beautiful around ourselves and the beautiful in ourselves. In addition, the contact of sensory organs (tactile, olfactory, auditory, etc.) with organic materials allows a special feeling, sense of resonance, which leads to love for the natural environment. Besides, coming into contact with patterns, colors combinations and the other elements of folk art energetically arranges the environment (Celms, 2007), and consequently it influences people too.

Anyways, the emotions and the joy for accomplished work are of a great importance. The satisfaction for the things made in the craft workshops together with their joy for the results in general subjects will secure and strengthen the children's perception of work as a value. Working in the craft workshops develops children's intellectual and concentration capacity, their patience, develops aesthetical perception.

Drustu folk school rituals for values strengthening

Direct and indirect evaluation of values occurs during our "Morning circles". Everybody meet in the school hall for a half an hour in the morning. We start by singing together a folk song, appealing qualities that we want to obtain (« giving to others and not asking something from others », « it is the work and good words who make us better, not sleeping, or bad words »). So our feeling make us approach the good, and the beautiful we want in ourselves. L.Murniece (1998), who studied the effects of music on the values orientation, proves that music is as one of the arts that can influence all the aspects of human mental life - on our mind, feelings, will, and imagination. Thereby it can determine spiritual and holistic formation of the personality. After the folk song a conversation follows to share the events, feelings, and impressions of the previous day: new experiences, observations, results. It is a reciprocal opening of hearts. All the adults – employees and guests of the school – participate in the "Morning circles" on an equal footing. They share and evaluate their attitudes for the happened events, focus on the phenomena observed in the nature, etc. The rituals of the Drustu folk school realized the both of values learning types: discussing on them, and living them through our own experience.

Thinking lessons

During the Thinking lessons, as well as the "morning circles" we discuss and experience values. These lessons could also be called for philosophizing hours. According to K. Buran (2002), philosophizing as children's critical, creative thinking, contribute to the development of their high-quality thinking. Dialogue promotes such qualities as apprehension of integrity of the world, and a person's 'myself' in it, promotes the engaged and responsible attitude towards eco-environment: people, nature.

A.Broks (2005) identifies the values orientation with attitudes, which, on their turn, refer to deliberation.

Love as a value is found in a person through many individual aspects. It is the background for the absolute cognitive power, so also for the intellect. In "Heart education through ethics" Rode (2005) analyzes what intellectual activities can contribute to strengthening the qualities of heart.

During the Thinking lessons in Drustu folk school we propose pupils to speak on national and global problems, to seek their sense of life, to plan their life, to discuss values, to discover them in images (drawings, sketches), and by applying them in their own lives. This happens in common discussions about some life problem or category. Teacher and pupils take part in discussions on an equal footing. His role is to facilitate the discussion, to find out the questions the students are interested in and to help them to find answers and solutions via dialogue, cooperation, through individual values prism.

The research organization, methods and data analysis

To be able to evaluate Drustu folk school experience, it was important to identify what is the pupils' scale of values, perception of values, values dominations and orientations – due to learning in this values orientated environment. To get the most complete and reliable results the following activities were made:
- product analysis of the values for the activity of all of the pupils attending the school during last ten years;
- content analysis of students' creative works;
- survey and unfinished sentences method;
- analysis of teachers' observation data for the value orientation of pupils.

The research basis: there are averagely 15 pupils who attend Drustu folk school year high school per year. There are no special terms to admit a child into this school. The main criterion – if the child himself is willing to learn at Drustu folk school. Students should abide by the school statute, which requires respect and maintenance for school traditions. 22 children from different families have taken part in the study. 13 children come from full-families (have both father and mother); 9 children have only one of parents. The parents of 13 pupils are workers or farmers; 5 children's parents work in their cultural field, 4 families are the intelligentsia. None of the families is among the disadvantaged. We can see that the children come from different social groups, so their values found in this study are not simply social layer conditioned. Children's diversity is illustrated by the fact that about half of pupils come from other provinces that Drusti: Daugavpils, Plavinas, Riga, Madonas and Gulbenes district, etc.

Studying the children's creative work, questionnaires, tests, and observations, the research authors searched values according to the described above classification: heart, mind, harmony, action, and activity values.

For example, test forms developed using M.Staneki-Kozvoska's (1993) proposed "idea of the life-tree". The authors offer questions and unfinished sentences that are organized in the following order:
- "My life-tree soil" – a child's understanding of the environment where he grows (spiritual, social, economic, cultural), discovering its most important moments;
- "My life-tree roots" – a child's perceptions of the basic questions of life (sense of life, faith etc.);
- "My life-tree trunk" – a child's thoughts what a human being is, what I am;
- "My life-tree flowers" - these are feelings of a child towards himself and the others;
- "My life-tree fruit" - a child's behavior filling his duties and being in contact with other people.

The comparison of the life with a tree, used in these forms, is quite familiar to our people's mentality, and it children's imagination can conceive it much easily. The questionnaire form facilitated their participation in the study.

The questionnaires about the understanding of values were developed by asking children to describe their understanding of each value, or illustrate it from their own life experience. The results represent as follows (in bold letters – the described values; after the dashes – children's opinion; in italic letters - a summary assessment):
Equality - when all the thoughts are the same; when all the people to be treated in the same way - respect for others
bLove - these are feelings that we should feel for the other, either human or otherwise. And if you don't receive it, you can not live normally. Then you can become mad and die. If you don't receive the love, then you just CAN NOT live - love, the ability to analyze, holism.
Selflessness - it is that you protect yourself, your own beliefs - self-esteem, resolve for challenges.
Sense of responsibility occurs when you become responsible for something. .. when I am fencing I am responsible for not blow too strong; I am responsible for my cello and for playing properly in a concert; during the school theater performance, I am responsible for not to fall flat and not to make shame for the school; when I represent the school in the debates - responsibility (4), evaluation capacity.

Similarly, we have studied children's creative works, their self-evaluation. For example:
I am free because I can do what I want: to go, to run where I want. Sometimes my thoughts control me: "I can not do this, because I must do that" - the ability to analyze, autonomy, freedom.
I am quite bad because I tease the others, I'm cowardly and I offend the smallers. I am trying to become better - moral purity, honesty, aspiration for perfection.
I believe that my life has a special mission - self confidence, readiness to serve.
I live to love everybody, to care for others and to give birth to posterity - love, care, creating.

The obtained values were summarized in tables and charts. For example, we can see the child's B6 diagram (see Fig. 1.) where the marks on the rays show how many times qualities typical for these values categories appeared in his works.

Fig.1 Values summary chart for the child b-6

Observations attest that the child B-6 is friendly. He also studies at the music school and his dream is to become a musician. He has comprehensively gifted, he loves books. This child is in advance in his development vis-a-vis his peers and he is going to graduate from Drustu folk school at least one year earlier. The fact that he lays stress slightly more on the mind values than on the heart values, could be explained by the child's self-dependent and continuous self-education. The child lived in the boarding school during the working week all the school-year long.

Harmony qualities are the least expressed. Action and activity qualities appear a bit more, but their significance in comparison with the qualities of heart and mind are still low for this child. In summary we can say that the child b-6 is more mind and heart the qualities balanced personality.

Children's individual charts are quite similar. They are mainly focused on the heart and the mind values. The child's b-13 chart differs much from the results of other children (see Fig. 2).

Fig.2 Values summary chart for the child b-13

The child b-13 grows up in single-parent families – with his mother. He has a little sister. He lacks the will power for studies, and therefore he does not keep pace with their peers for the programs of several subjects. At home he often has mutual misunderstanding with his mother. The child likes animals, and he cares much about them. His dream is to become a veterinarian. It is possible that the lack of warmth in their relation with mother can explain the imbalance between heart and mind qualities observed in his values chart. The mind qualities are significant for the child, but it remains still as a deliberate, but unrealized value cause of little activity qualities.

Summarizing the results of the study for all the children, we obtained the chart Fig.3. The Here appears the number of qualities characteristic for values of all the Drustu folk school children all together.

Fig 3. Values summary chart (for all the children together)

Summary of teacher's observations of children values orientation:
heart - love to mother, friendly, willing to help, kindness, patience, careful
mind - open-minded, punctual, honest, true, ability to analyze, fair, observant
activity - assiduity, love of working, enthusiasm for work, aspiration to help others
harmony - satisfied, discipline, inner silence, serenity, good nature, easy to get on with
action - fearless, respect for property, non-violence, independent, physically fit

In their observations teachers see children more balanced than it appears in the analysis of children's works (see fig.4) . This could be explained by the fact that teachers observe the children only in the school environment, in their attitude towards learning, their progress. For these aspects harmony, action and activity qualities are more pronounced than in the children's life in general.

Fig. 4 Values summary chart : according a teacher's observations for all the children together

All in all, the study shows that mind and heart values qualities dominate for children of Drustu folk school. Activity and action qualities are also in balance. They prevail over harmony related values. Harmony of qualities are the least expressed. This could be explained by the fact that the children's personality is still in formation process. Children's independent interrelations with the world are still not widespread. Action and activity qualities mainly determin children's relationships with the society. They are less significant for them, while they feel well their family's protection and care.

Another value that appears clearly in children's works is the family. It shows its great importance in the child's life – in his mind and heart. It is also approved by teachers' observation – the children's attitudes qre determined by those that currently dominate in their families. The child's values can not be necessarily judged by his spontaneous action or behavior. The observations should be durable and in the varied situations in order to obtain a true picture.

Children's heart clarity can not be shown in a chart. There is much deeper meaning in their words. Here are some examples from children's creative works:
The friendship, the love, and the strength are the most important things in my life;
The reason of my life is to work and do something good for other – that's why I live! ...
The most important thing in my life is family, because all my sisters and brothers, the whole family give me love ...;
I live in order to do good things, to make pleasure to myself and to the whole world ....
I live in order to do something good for this world ...
I live in order to love ...
I believe that the reason of my life is to teach people to live friendly ...
I live in order to change the world for the best ...;
I live in order to explore the life ...

The study reveales that children observe critically their everyday life, they can distinguish the good from the bad, and to explain their affirmations. Children understand well the sense of values. They do dont define them but they give examples describing their own experience. Children are able to analyze both the behavior of others as well as their own behavior. They are able to evaluate themselves and their actions. Every child has a life dream or an idea of his future profession or occupation. They also see the way to make this dream true. Children evaluate the world and give their own solutions for the problems of the world. We can admire children's ideal, optimistic view on their future activities and the internal confidence of their mission and of the ability to carry it out.


The analysis of scientific literature and of experience of the Folk school reveals the necessity for targeted values education and its importance for the forming and strengthening of pupils' values. It also attests the importance of teacher's personality in values education, of the ways how teacher's values are revealed in diverse contexts. The actions of a child are not always determined by his values. It is important to observe children over a long period of time and in different situations to estimate their true values. In order to contribute to the development of children's values, we create mentally and physically balanced school environment which encourage their emotional experience.

A teacher should found the values education on co-operation and co-development, collaboration and co-equality with pupils. This means that we should transfer accent from general education on individual learning, and from teaching to learning by taking into account the needs, interests, capacities, values, mental, and other specialties of each child, by discovering their creative activity. cancellation of strictly defined, all equal-time limit for curriculum mastering would play an essential role for considering of child's individual characteristics, and for reducing of stress.

A very important aspect for maintenance of positive values are attitudes and traditions, which children transfer to each other, from one generation to the other (children's tradition).

In order to develop ecological, social, cultural and economic aspects of sustainable society, it is important that education process is based on the traditions that are nation-specific and self-corresponding traditions.

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