Please note: the site Waarden & Normen is under construction.
In the near future we hope to offer you an English index.
Nevertheless, you are most welcome to take a first look in this learning environment.

The Project Waarden & Normen was initiated by the Dutch Minister of Education to provide students and teacher educators tools for professional development.
The Projectgroup is dedicated to fostering communication, cooperation, training, curriculum development, and research that links moral theory with educational practice. The Waarden & Normen program supports self-reflective educational practices that value the worth and dignity of each individual as a moral agent in a pluralistic society.

The web site Waarden & Normen intents to link together students, educators, scholars, and citizens who want to share their views and work, and learn more about research, practices and activities in the area of moral development and education.

  • If you are an author and would like your article to be included here, please send your contribution.
  • If you know of additional resources, please send information.
  • Your comments are very welcome.

Mail to: j.g.valstar@wxs.nl

Internet Links
Studyplace 1 on this W&N site contains useful links to (English / German) Internet resources/organizations/institutes in moral education / character education, education for democratic citizenship, service learning, etcetera.
See Online Articles Studyplace 2 on this W&N site.


[published in 1997]

Values and morals in the class

Children can sometimes react very keenly to moments in a lesson when values are at issue. They need no jargon to do so, but simply formulate what they think. For example:

'But Miss, I thought I could say what I think of it!'

'It didn't matter what you thought of it, the teacher agreed with everyone. What are you going to learn from that?'

These are statements by children, commenting on the lesson with trainee teacher Petra. The 'De Bus' demo CD-Rom shows lesson fragments in which Petra talks to her class about their behaviour during a trip on the bus. Neither the pupils nor Petra herself had offered an older woman a seat. The children and the teacher were all too involved in their own affairs. The woman had reacted by writing an angry letter to school. The headmaster thought it very annoying and asked Petra to deal with the issue in her class. Petra used the incident as an introduction to talk about morals with the children, and about values such as 'respect' and 'responsibility'.
On using the CD-Rom, we see how Petra is very clearly imposing her opinion on the children at one point in the lesson, without giving them the opportunity to express their own opinions. In the next lesson fragment she does listen to the children but does not discuss what is 'right' or 'wrong'. She closes the lesson with the comment that there are always two sides to an argument. The children's comments show that they did not agree with either of Petra's approaches.
You could also say that Petra was indoctrinating one moment, and the next she was neutralising values. These poles are a clear indication of the tension involved in working with morals and values in the class. As will be clear by now, the demo CD-Rom has been designed to deal with the sub-aspect of the conventions. The values ecology of the school will be approached comprehensively in the final programme.

How do you do it?

Every teacher will recognize those problematic teaching moments from his or her experience. Something suddenly happens which requires a reaction. One pupil makes a discriminating remark about a fellow classmate, for example. Or the teaching material invites you to take a moral standpoint. What role is most suited to the teacher in such situations?
When applying self criticism to one's own behaviour in such situations, the conclusion will probably be that some situations were handled better than others. Maybe you abused your own power in the class or your verbal skills. On the other hand, maybe the other extreme was true: you failed to make use of the pedagogic moment, even though it concerned an undesirable expression or action.

The Latent Curriculum

Such situations occur and the teaching materials regularly invite teachers to take a moral standpoint, which is why future teachers must be offered teaching experience and practice situations while in training, in order to prepare them for the practical situations.
Alongside the pedagogic moments which occur in the class, there is much more education in terms of values and morals within the context of the school as a whole. The school can be seen as a micro community in which pupils and teachers spend a number of hours per day and in which they are permanently confronted with values and morals. This occurs consciously and openly, for example in the explicit design of the identity of the school. However, it also occurs less openly and consciously.
Pupils are faced with democratic or authoritarian behaviour by teachers and head teachers for example; they experience the control exercised by the group, are confronted with bullies and forms of discrimination, and experience the atmosphere involved in dealing with differences of the sexes. They must keep to school rules, rules when working, co-operation, participation, fraud, etc. Pupils meet other children in school who are positive or negative role models. This latent curriculum is of particular influence when it comes to the development of values and morals (Klaassen, 1996).
Trainee teachers must recognize the effect of this latent curriculum so that they can apply it in a pro-active manner in their daily working practice.

The influence of the discussion on the pedagogic assignment

It was indicated above that values are always an issue in the education process. This particular aspect of education has been paid plenty of attention in the discussion of the pedagogic assignment which has been initiated over the past years.
This discussion has had consequences. We shall limit ourselves to the field of teacher training for primary schools. The theme of values and morals is found in directional documents such Beroep in beweging (Profession on the Move - a profile of primary school teachers), Startbekwaamheden Leraar Primair Onderwijs (Primary School Teachers' Starting Skills - SLO, VSLPC), Het gemeenschappelijk leerplan pabo (the teacher training statement of principles, Process Management Teacher Training publication) and the Kerndoelen Basisonderwijs (Key objectives of Primary Education - SLO).'Beroep in beweging' gives the following description of the 'values and morals' task profile:

'Teachers are conscious of values and morals. They apply them in their dealings in and outside of school. They aim to detect and remove their own prejudices. They try to form an opinion which is both balanced and defendable. They are aware of the philosophy or ideology which play a role among the people with whom they are involved. They are able to link choices based on values and morals, to this knowledge, inspired either by their own philosophy or ideology, or purely from a professional point of view. In all cases, they are capable of justifying their choices, also in critical reflection of the philosophy or ideology which is under discussion, where possible.'(24,25)

In the fourth version of 'Startbekwaamheden Leraar Primair Onderwijs' (Primary School Teachers' Starting Skills), the theme of 'values and morals' is a regular feature of the 'basic attitude' section in the detailing of starting skills. An example is:

'The new teacher can supervise the development of values and morals among his pupils in education, partly by laying a link with his own orientation of values and with their experiences, their environment, with the social and philosophical traditions and current situation, and the detailing of this in the principles and/or the school concept of the school.' (29)

In Het gemeenschappelijk leerplan pabo (teacher training statement of principles), the task group indicates that society is increasingly emphasizing 'increasing and urgent demand for personal interpretation and explicit expression of values and morals.' (22) Education has a task in this:

'Education is an important factor for society in many perspectives. ... In a moral sense because education contributes to a caring and ethical society'. (20)

The discussion on the pedagogic assignment emphasizes that the school must help pupils to develop skills and attitudes in order to function as responsible citizens in our democratic society. In the document entitled Kerndoelen Basisonderwijs (Key Objectives of Primary Education), which is an important indicator for the contents of the teacher training curriculum, this aspect is detailed as follows:

Pupils take part in group activities. This means that:

  • a. they treat other people respectfully;
  • b. they act according to generally accepted morals and values;
  • c. they respect differences in philosophy and culture;
  • d. they dare to give their own standpoint in the group;
  • e. they take account of the feelings and wishes of others;
  • f. They dare to support members of the group who have deviating standpoints. (9)

There is plenty of attention for the pedagogic assignment at the level of the directional documents in which the ideal profile of the profession is described and ultimate terms are formulated. The contents of these documents is in line with the intentions of the national discussion.

An important challenge for the training colleges is then: how can you translate these orientational concepts into your own teacher training course? You are faced with questions such as: To what extent is the issue of the pedagogic assignment explicitly dealt with? What can be changed or improved in terms of training didactics? How can the starting skills referred to be given form and content with a view to the intended ultimate terms?

The Overijssel project

The 'Values & Morals' project group of the five teacher training colleges in Overijssel was initiated at the end of 1996. The project group task is at the practical level. The profession profile, ultimate terms and starting skills must be translated into a concrete programme for training practice.It is a complicated task. Unlike other professional fields, there are no specific concepts or institutionalized traditions on which to fall back. There is not (yet) a network of teachers working on the theme of values and morals.
The project group began by exploring the discussion on the pedagogic assignment and possible relevant aspects. The first publication of the project group, entitled Het paradoxale proces (The Paradoxical Process, Valstar 1997) reports on this. It also indicates the direction which must be taken in terms of the context and a training didactical approach.The second publication, Multi mediale interactieve leeromgeving waarden en normen (Multi media interactive learning environment for values and morals -Meerveld 1997), follows on from the basic document. It gives an initial answer to the questions of form and contents required in designing a multi media learning environment for values & morals.

Values & Morals' programme at teacher training college

The draft programme of values and morals comprises a number of levels.
The distinction of levels is essential in indicating that the pedagogic assignment is not limited to a sub-aspect of teacher training. The pedagogic assignment in education requires an integral approach.


The starting point of the programme is the students' own (preliminary) knowledge. As adolescents, they have their own values and morals. Once the students have followed the programme, they are better equipped to reflect on their subjective concepts. They can relate their values and morals to their actions in and outside of school. They are aware of their own prejudices and aim to form an opinion which is both balanced and defendable. Philosophies and ideologies play an important role. Students learn to include their own values and morals in their working concept. They can also lay a link between their working concept and the identity of the school.


Students must become aware of a number of value issues within the context of school processes, not only in (teaching) situations in which values and morals are explicitly referred to. As soon as students enter a school, they are confronted with the effects of the latent curriculum. Once they have followed the programme, they are better equipped to reflect on the implications of the latent curriculum. They have insight into the influence of this curriculum and can deal with this consciously and pro-actively.

    Level 3: INSTRUMENTS

Students who wish to lend form to the pedagogic assignment need a set of instruments. Once the students have followed the programme, they are better equipped to apply the instruments in question in their own daily practice. They acquire know-how, insight, skills and attitudes which are necessary in order to work responsibly at the formation of values and morals in the school context

Examples of such instruments are:
Knowledge of moral development. Teachers know how children think and reason when it comes to moral issues and they are capable of applying this knowledge in terms of development of educational situations. They use experiences and events with which the children are confronted as the starting point for their moral development.
Strategies of values education. Teachers have knowledge of various strategies (values clarification, values development, values transfer and values communication) and can apply them in a complementary fashion. Responsible application of 'values transfer' deserves extra attention because children in the lower classes of primary school in particular are still in the enculturation phase. New teachers have insight into all kinds of pitfalls which may be met, such as moralization, indoctrination and neutralization. They can also work by concepts such as perspective exchange and interactive competence.
Modelling/imitation teaching. Teachers are aware that learning is a social process whereby all kinds of models play a role. The fact that they themselves are a figure with whom the children identify must not only be paid attention but must also steer the pedagogic action.

The students must be able to apply the above 'instruments' cohesively in the various subject/teaching areas and in activities beyond the subjects themselves. Primary school pupils are being prepared for life in a democratic society. The Values & Morals programme concept therefore confronts prospective teachers with realistic dilemmas and teaching situations which affect the social and societal practice of the primary school. With this in mind, education in democratic citizenship will also be a point of attention.

Back and forth between perception, practice and theory

The design of the Values & Morals programme is as far-reaching as the pedagogic assignment as such. The project group is convinced that the challenge of the pedagogic assignment can be seen as a challenge throughout the school. The various programme components can be offered in an integrated fashion within the existing fields of training. A separate subject for values and morals is not desirable within the teacher training concept.
The project group plans to supply products for the levels described above (own values and morals, the latent curriculum, the instruments).

The approach is based on three components which are interlinked and influence one another, namely:

  1. the professional qualities which a student must acquire as a whole. These include the professional attitude, the skills, know-how and insight required to fulfill the educational assignment. The ability to reflect on one's own perception of the aspects situated in the various levels plays an important role.
  2. Secondly, the professional practice in which the student learns to develop professional qualities. This mainly concerns the practical training activities.
  3. Thirdly, an inventory will be made of what the teacher training college can offer in terms of practical theories from a pedagogic, psychological and professional (didactic) point of view. This specific know-how can further improve the student's learning to reflect on his or her own professional practice. The movement back and forth between own experience and perception, the practice and the theory can lead to well based professionalism.

Interactive and multi media

The contribution which the project group wishes to make with regard to realization of the programme is a multi media interactive learning environment. The choice of a learning environment (a well prepared, relatively open situation in which active learning can take place) is based on the constructivist view that learning should take place actively and independently. Interaction between the student, who is responsible for his or her own learning process, and the learning environment offered, the student's own (preliminary) knowledge can be discussed to begin with. New knowledge can then be constructed. The use of information and communication technology (ICT) in the learning environment offers many possibilities. To give an idea, a description will be given of the first sub-design of a multi media learning environment, which comprises the demo CD-Rom 'De Bus' and an internet environment. The CD-Rom is not a finished product, but rather a prototype from which the project group has learned a great deal. This CD-Rom is used at participating teacher training colleges at the moment. The evaluation data of users (students and lecturers) plays a role in the development of the following products.

The CD-Rom in the learning environment

The main learning functions offered by the CD-Rom are as follows:

- practical situations and exercises
- key concepts and terms of reference
- interactive instruction
- activities for lesson preparation.

We shall illustrate these functions on the basis of the first prototype.
As already indicated in the introduction, the student users of 'De Bus' CD-Rom are confronted with video fragments of trainee teacher Petra.
They are brought into contact with a number of instruments which teachers can use in the education of values and morals. They become acquainted with the 'pitfalls' of indoctrination, moralization and neutralization of values and with the method of perspective exchange.
Throughout the programme, the student users are invited to analyse Petra's activities and to give their views on the events. They can consult literature in a database for that purpose. The programme also indicates which concepts are relevant to particular fragments. Via the opinion of the mentor, a practical training pal, a teacher training lecturer and a few of the schoolchildren, the users can inventorise what happens during Petra's lessons. They are invited to record their evaluations as they progress through the programme.
Finally, they are requested to design their own lesson on the basis of the areas of attention already registered by them. Lesson preparation forms have been included for that purpose and all kinds of lesson suggestions can be gained from the database.

The CD-Rom is an attractive learning environment for students. It combines elements which are separate in the standard aids to learning. The practical situation is found on this CD-Rom in the video fragments. The student can simultaneously learn from the relevant theories and is constantly invited to think and process those thoughts in an own working concept.
The multi media approach stimulates students to switch intensively back and forth between their own experience and perceptions and the theory. This can lead to functional know-how for use in teaching practice.
The process of reflection is most effective when two or three students work through the programme on the CD-Rom together. Thanks to the link to the W&N internet site, the learning process need not be limited to the students' immediate environment. It can be extended through contact with fellow students 'all over the world' and with no end of experts, also outside of school.

The learning environment and internet

The options offered by internet will become a real element of the multi media W&N learning environment in the near future. The interactive element can then be optimally used: not only in the sense of 'pre-planned interactivity' as is usually the case in a CD-Rom, but also in the sense of own, self-oriented input.

Users will soon be able to link up the 'Values & Morals' (W&N) web site (presently under construction), where interested parties can find extensive background information on the pedagogic assignment of education and also references to other web sites with interesting and up to date information on issues concerning the teaching of values and morals. The W&N site will also offer suggestions for primary school lessons, thus supplementing the learning environment of the CD-Rom with the latest know-how.
A second new option offered by internet is the communicative function. Via internet, trainee teachers, their lecturers and primary school pupils can participate in discussion groups or communities of learners at the local, national and international levels.
A number of important concepts in teaching values and morals are perspective exchange and interactive competence. These are skills which require a long learning process, which is probably endless. These skills can also be developed via electronic communication. E-mail can be deployed as a medium for students at all levels of education. It allows for communication about views and practical situations in which values and morals are important. The exchange from a distance can enrich learning processes; certainly also learning processes in the context of teacher training.

A following phase in the Values & Morals project is the use of video conferencing. Values and morals need to be experienced in a true life situation, which can best be achieved in direct 'live' confrontation. E-mail gives the opportunity to communicate in writing, but this misses the non-verbal signals as an elementary source of information. Video conferencing can play an important role here. Students, pupils and teachers can see each other as discussion partners. Individuals and classes can hold direct discussions together, can establish, execute and evaluate projects together. If required, any number of people can take part in the discussion worldwide.
Video conferencing is also ideally suited for students to experience live class situations, so that they experience contexts and situations in which values and morals are explicitly discussed in a much more direct and involved manner. In other words, video conferencing can be a very practical and usable enrichment of the values and morals learning environment.

This is only the beginning

This article mentions a number of options for a multi media learning environment for values and morals. It will be clear that there is still plenty to be done in detailing this learning environment. Plenty of work is being done to detail and design the Values & Morals learning environment. New options must be tested in terms of their effectiveness. The project group is in the midst of a process in which it deploys try outs and evaluation to progress step by step. Reactions and new ideas are most welcome of course.


BRONKHORST, J. Towards an integrated multi media learning environment for moral education. Paper presented at the ATEE conference, Macerata, 1997

FORUM VITAAL LERAARSCHAP, Beroep in beweging, beroepsprofiel leraar primair onderwijs.(Profession on the Move - a profile of primary school teachers) Utrecht 1995.

HERTVELDT, F., VANNESTE, P. en WYLIN, B., Internet, een nieuw didactisch medium, (Internet, a new didactic medium) Antwerp, 1997

HUFFMAN, H.A., Developing A Character Education Program, Alexandria 1994.

KLAASSEN, C., De pedagogische opdracht in een postmoderne tijd. (The pedagogic assignment in a post modern era) VELON magazine 1993, 4.

KLAASSEN, C., Socialisatie en Moraal, Onderwijs en waarden in een laat-moderne tijd. (Socialisation and Moral, Education and values in a late modern era) Leuven / Apeldoorn 1996.

MEERVELD, J. (red), Multi mediae interactieve leeromgeving waarden en normen, Projectgroep Waarden & Normen Lerarenopleidingen Basisonderwijs Overijssel, (Multi media interactive learning environment for values and morals - Project group for Values & Morals in Teacher Training for Primary Schools in Overijssel) Hengelo, 1997

VERENIGING DE SAMENWERKENDE PEDAGOGISCHE CENTRA, Startbekwaamheden Leraar Primair Onderwijs (Starting Skills for Primary School Teachers) (Fourth version), Utrecht, 1997

STEVENS, L.M. (voorzitter), Hoofdlijnen van een gemeenschappelijk leerplan pabo, uitgave Procesmanagement Lerarenopleidingen, (the teacher training statement of principles, Process Management Teacher Training publication) 1997

VALSTAR, J.G., Basisdocument: het paradoxale proces, Projectgroep Waarden & Normen Lerarenopleidingen Basisonderwijs Overijssel, (The Paradoxical Process - Project group for Values & Morals in Teacher Training for Primary Education in Overijssel) Hengelo 1997.

VEUGELERS, W., Docenten en de pedagogische opdracht van het onderwijs. (Teachers and the pedagogic assignment of education) VELON magazine 1994, 4.