Education Editorial: Respect

By: Bill Bosher - email

This week our minister made the observation that we should each have installed a "respect" meter. This would be a gauge for the respect that we extend to others…like an air quality control instrument …and maybe we could express respect in particles per million.

But this illustration is far less about finite differences and more about fundamental values. How much do we respect each other?

Thomas Lickona, a development psychologist, runs a Center for the Fourth and Fifth R's (Respect and Responsibility). Dr. Lickona says that we have a "crisis of character".

He notes that we have the highest suicide among young people between 15 and 24 than any industrialized nation in the world. Between 1965 and 1990 juvenile arrests increased by 300%.

He recently cited a 10-year study of 70,000 middle school students where only 37% of the young people responded yes to the statement "Students in my school show respect for one another."

While "what young people know and can do" is critical to preparing for the world of work…whether you stop along the way for college or not…important to success is respect. When employers call me for a reference, they do not first ask about the GPA (grade point average), they want to know if the student can get along with other people.

There are no standardized tests for respect…but there are standards. Dr. Lickona refers to them as moral knowing, moral feeling and moral doing.

Where I have met a little bully, I started looking for a big bully somewhere in the family. We emulate long before we educate.