Children’s Values: Glass Half Empty, or Half Full?

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Children's Values
THE PROVERBIAL GLASS OF MILK: Is it half full, or half empty?

THE PROVERBIAL GLASS OF MILK: Is it half full, or half empty?

What values should our children learn?

The new Pew study we’ve consulted this week asked about 12 different values, discovering that Americans have common ground—six values that most people agree are important to teach children. There is disagreement about six other values.

Should we interpret the findings as a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty”?

As we discussed this week, “being responsible” is the topmost value Americans believe is especially important to teach children. Common ground also includes hard work, being well-mannered, helping others, independence, and persistence. Big divides appear when it comes to the values of religious faith and tolerance, as well as the values of obedience, empathy for others, curiosity, and creativity.

It is interesting that Pew decided to emphasize the divides in its report. The subtitle, for example, is “Sharp Ideological Differences, Some Common Ground.” The first sentence of the report notes the general trend of increasing political polarization, and says that “differences between conservatives and liberals extend their long reach even to opinions about which qualities are important to teach children.”

The survey results split right down the middle—widespread agreement on six values, disagreement on six other values. An equally valid subtitle could be, “Common Ground, Some Ideological Differences.”

Why did Pew decide to emphasize the divides?

Controversy sells better than good news. Emphasizing that political polarization extends to how we raise our children is newsworthy and eye-catching. The good news of agreement on many values for children is not an attention-getter.

Do you interpret the Pew results as a “glass half full”?
Or, as a “glass half empty”?
Does good news or controversy draw your attention?

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