Diversity refers to valuing, respecting, and recognizing differences. It includes differences in sexual orientation, nationality, race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, and religion. Diversity also includes a wide range of experiences and characteristics of an individual like mode of communication, career aspirations, marital status, educational level, and background, leadership style, and other factors that influence the perspectives of an individual.
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Because of individual differences, perception of opportunities, decision-making process, suggestions, problem-solving, and processes of approaching challenges vary from one person to another and from one society to another (Robinson, & Jones-Diaz, 2005).
Robinson and Jones-Diaz (2005) state that the word “values” refers to beliefs, philosophies, and missions held deeply by an individual, a group of people, society, organization, or country, and they guide the decisions and behavior of the group. Personal values guide an individual in leading an honest life. Individuals are happy and proud when they honor their values. Failure to conform to an individual’s values may cause stress. Every person has a set of personal values that make him or her different from other people. However, an individual may not be conscious of some personal attributes. Examples of values include punctuality, self-reliance, hard work, generosity, persistence, integrity, and humor.
Human beings express their values in daily activities, such as interaction with other people as well as carrying out their normal duties. An individual’s decision on the choice of friends, careers, mates, entertainment, and religion is based on the values of an individual. An individual needs to understand his or her values while planning for his or her personal development because an individual’s codes of values play a very important role. A full understanding of an individual’s values helps one to make sound decisions and plan properly for his or her future (Robinson & Jones-Diaz, 2005).
Not all shared values are controversial. Interpretation of such values may vary depending on an individual and the circumstance. For instance, people interpret freedom to have different meanings. There are cases in which what a person considers just is unjust to another person. The Brotherhood of St. Laurence in Australia conducted a study to determine if Australians participated in debates about values in the country in 2002. The results of the study showed that people interpreted the term “value” differently. Besides, the level of personal reflection of values was not sufficient whereas personal behaviors, opinions, and values of individuals differed from those of the society.
As an individual, various values determine my actions, behaviors, and the choice of people I interact with. My values include freedom, equality, diversity, responsibility, ethical culture, and respect for the land. Although the same values are recognized and embraced in Australian society, I tend to differ with the society’s interpretation. This does not mean that I completely disagree with the community. However, there are areas I find society’s interpretation unnecessary and against my opinion. I will discuss the meaning of the above values and give the side of my opinions and why I differ with the society on their understanding.
Societal Values in Conflict with My Values
Like individuals, societies have to conform to certain values to achieve their objectives. If society is to succeed, it should have values that guide the decisions and actions of the society. When examined keenly, the success of a society must be based on certain core values that were adhered to strictly. Examples of societal values include: assisting the poor, improvement of the condition of the environment, creating an efficient and responsive government, and engendering unity and loyalty among the members of the community. Like other societies, the Australian society is based on certain values. Although the society lacks uniformity in the system of values to be followed, there are a set of values that have been agreed upon and are followed by the majority of Australians (Braithwaite & Blamey, 1998).
Australian citizens exercise freedom as well as the enjoyment of rights without interference. Australians enjoy the freedom of expression, freedom in the choice of religion, movements, and freedom of assembly. The media and the public are free to air information. My understanding of freedom is different. As much as social advocates for freedom of religion, speech, and movement, which is right, I believe the government should have a say on boundaries beyond which individuals should not cross.
For instance, I do not believe in the press airing information before getting the consent of the person. Some religions and movements that may be a threat to the safety of society, like, cults should not be allowed. I believe parents and the elderly should have a say on what the youth term freedom because the youth may get into problems in the name of exercising freedom (Australian Government, 2005).
According to the Universal Declaration, Australians are entitled to equality and protection from any kind of discrimination based on language, religion, socio-economic, family, educational background, language, and culture by the law. I believe that in cases of opportunities, people should practice justice instead of practicing discrimination based on gender, race, or ethnicity. This will ensure equal treatment of people (Australian Government, 2005).
Diversity is highly valued in Australia. It is the ability to solve problems in a peaceful, non-violent, and constructive way. Diversity has been supported by the majority of Australians. Embracing diversity has contributed to cooperation and social cohesion evident in Australian society. I believe that the only way to solve problems is through harmonious ways. Violent ways should never be applied in solving problems because they can make the problem even worse. For instance, fighting should never be applied as a conflict resolution method because the results may be dangerous (Horne, 2002).
Australians emphasize community and personal responsibility. Individuals should be accountable for the actions and decisions they make. Additionally, an individual has the duty of defending the rights of other people and participate actively in the activities of the community for the benefit of the society at large. I believe in engaging in activities that bring benefits to me and the rest of the members of society. Society should benefit from my work/project as much as I do. I hold that an individual should consider other society members, the needy, and the poor when deciding on the projects to undertake (Horne, 2002).
Care and Respect for Land
According to Horne (2002), Australians place a high value on land. Indigenous Australians believe in protecting the land because it was handed down by ancestors, therefore, annoying the spirits through the destruction of land may lead to punishment. Australians care and respect land because it displays the distinct soils, plants, wildlife, landforms, and climate in Australia. Because of the above reasons, Australians recognize the need of caring for their unique continent, which is an island. I believe in caring for the land to maintain its productivity.
The role of the culture of ethical behavior founded on care, respect, and integrity is valued and recognized by Australians. Integrity means consistency, trustworthiness, and honesty in actions and values. Honesty means doing the right according to the law. Caring means feelings of empathy, compassion actions, and concern about the wellbeing of the poor and those in need. I consider engaging in activities that benefit me and other community members as honesty (Horne, 2002).
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Behaviors/beliefs valued in my Schooling
To facilitate unity and cooperation in schools, the running of schools is based on various values. Many schools have core values, founding statements, beliefs, and vision statements. My school was based on several values like hard work. Students were encouraged to work hard to excel in academics. We were taught to have respect for each other and teachers as well. Obedience to rules and regulations of the schools was highly stressed. Other values included responsibility for an individual’s actions and fear of God.
Sources of Values/beliefs
Beliefs are truths that an individual holds deeply about life. Beliefs are an individual’s thoughts about what characterizes life. Beliefs are not universal truths. What is true for a person may be false to another person. Examples of beliefs include belief inequality.
A belief that an individual does not have control over events occurring in life or superiority and inferiority depends on factors like race and gender. Beliefs and values comprise vital elements of an individuals’ or society’s asset. Beliefs and values are similar in that they are aspects of life that define what a person perceives as the truth of life. They differ in that beliefs are directed outwards whereas values are self-oriented. The values of my school were derived from the rules and regulations of the school, religion, society, and laws of the state (Flowers, 2002).
Implications of Values/beliefs in my Profession as an Educator
The values and beliefs I learned at school are of much help to me in my teaching career. This is because they have become part of my life. The spirit of hard work is still in me. This has enabled me to work and cover the syllabus in time and the performance of my students is always the best. I have no problem interacting with my colleagues and students because I have respect for them. Obedience, fear of God, and responsibility has always contributed to my good citizenship because I know what is right. I am obedient not only to the laws of the state but also regulations of the educational institution I work in. My good values have always made me the best in whatever I do in my teaching profession.
I have borrowed my values and beliefs from the utilitarianism theory of ethics. The theory was founded by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill. Utilitarianism is derived from “utilize,” a Latin word that refers to something of value. The theory focuses mainly on the consequences resulting from the action. If the consequences of an action are good, the action is morally upright. The main objective of the values that guide my behavior and decision-making process is to bring positive impacts on my life (Mill, 1871).
The most important aspect to remember about values is implementation. Implementation of values strengthens and energizes everything related to the value. An individual’s implementation and commitment to values give energy to an individual, which contributes to the well-being, achievement, and success in one’s objectives. Adoption of values in societies energizes community members toward the achievement of the objectives of the society.
Australian Government. (2005). National framework for values education in Australian Schools. Web.
Braithwaite, V. & Blamey, R. (1998). Consensus, stability and meaning in abstract social values. Australian Journal of Political Science, 33(3): 363-380.
Flowers, C. (2002). Values and civic behavior in Australia: Project report. Web.
Horne, D. (2002). An Australian compact: What are the core values that all Australians might share? Web.
Mill, J. (1871). Utilitarianism. New York, NY: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer.
Robinson, K. & Jones-Diaz, C. (2005). Diversity and difference in early childhood education: issues for theory and practice. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.