The first two world café events revealed values as being integral to learning. Values serve as anchors or roots grounding people as they seek meaning in life. Value is from the Latin meaning worthy or strong. The French word for value is valoir which is related to the English for valour, courage, and spirit. Values are universal and timeless and can serve as bridges cultures and generations, spanning arbitrary and artificial boundaries. Beliefs are founded on, but do not replace values. Values remain constant, but beliefs will be redefined over time.
Values are difficult, if not impossible, to measure. For example, what criteria measures compassion? Instead, we can ask, “What evidence is there that a compassionate person can have a positive impact on children’s learning?” Or, “What evidence exists that children learning to care for others, their communities, and the world are successful in their learning?” What would a love for learning, for others, and for the world look like, feel like, and sound like? Parker Palmer might ask, “What colour is this love for learning and the world?” Do love and compassion animate the human spirit to learn, serve, and care?
When we first fall in love, passion fuels the relationship. Gradually, passion balances com-passion. Humans are capable of learning to attend to activities and others. Learning, in this context, is relational. Passion for life-long learning has counter-weights: compassion, patience, care, integrity, and empathy. Maturing children require gentle, caring patience to achieve success. Learning, a partner for life, brings wholeness and integrity in life. Empathy and compassion open hearts and minds to learn about the other and the world.
Paradoxically, learning and teaching exist in challenging and complex, yet safe relational webs embracing subjects and personal histories. If parents, families, and communities value life-long learning, as a holistic process, children can become successful in their learning.