Teaching of values should start at home

I have been reading with amusement letters about schools needing to teach students values and moral.

I wonder how much the public knows about what is being taught in schools, both within the curriculum and outside of the curriculum.

There is only so much that schools can inculcate in children because, ultimately, it is at home where students, especially the younger ones, pick up and form their values system.

Take the tray-return system in canteens as an example. Students take the initiative to return them while they are in school, but when they get home, this learning is undone when their maids or caregivers clean up after them.

I have witnessed on numerous occasions at hawker centres when children were stopped by their parents from returning the trays, citing reasons such as "it's dirty" or "it's not your job".

Children will mimic their parents' behaviour and take on their societal views. Ask students why they feel a particular way about certain issues and, very often, they would cite influence from their family.

Educators often find their hands tied when it comes to how much they can do in terms of passing on values to students.

Such guidance is not extended to just a handful of students. In fact, in a typical school, it is a ratio of one form teacher to 40 students. And the contact time between individual students and their teachers is limited to hours in school.

The inculcating of values is not primarily the responsibility of schools, but that of parents.

Schools are already doing much to shape the values of students through programmes like Values in Action but, ultimately, it is the parents' responsibility to shape their own children's values (Values programme has lasting impact on students; Sept 19).

I encourage parents to find out what the schools are actually doing in this respect and to play an active part in ensuring that their children practise what they learn.

Parenting is not just about providing for children, it is also about shaping their values and morals.

Alan Kiat-Leng Lee