The story of Values and Visions began in 1989 when two things happened. Firstly, I watched as teachers in the UK were being put under great pressure to comply to externally imposed demands from an ideologically driven government. Teachers were being forced to fill in tick boxes at the expense of their own professional integrity and the values they held dear. I noticed that some teachers got through these pressures very creatively and emerged stronger than ever while others became stressed, went off sick, took early retirement or simply left the profession. I wanted to understand what was happening and why some were crushed and others got through safely. The second thing that happened was that in an act of unprecedented unanimity, all the many denominations in the church agreed, at the World Council of Churches 1989 gathering, that there was the need for metanoia, a radical internal shift of consciousness, and they called for educators to respond to this by bringing peace education and spiritual awareness into schools.
I remember realising that I needed to get on and do something: respond to the challenge; find ways to enable spiritual awareness work in education; find ways to prevent life in school from becoming soul-destroying for teachers or children. I knew it was possible to transform problems into positive, unlimited change because I had seen teachers do it. I just needed to understand what the process was and how to make it available to others.
Gradually the right people emerged. We (Sally Burns and Georgeanne Lamont) had met in 1988 and began working on V&V in the early 1990s with a solid group of supporters. They came from all faiths and none: Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, atheist and agnostic. What we discovered was to form the framework for transformation which, for the last 26 years, has been used in countless schools and organisations, including multinational companies, small and medium-sized businesses and public services such as hospitals, to help them become happy, thriving, effective places for us to learn, to work and to be fully alive.
Values and Visions: A Handbook for Spiritual Development and Global Awareness was published in 1995 and sold over 20,000 copies. It was translated into Japanese and distributed there too.
Now over 26 years later, spirituality is still a word that is controversial and which many shy away from, but the need for inner strength is greater than ever if we are to find peace in a peaceless, consumerist world, if we are to be effective in a violent chaotic world, if we are to be happy in a world based on a materialism that actively fosters discontent and stress, and that threatens our survival.
Because of this urgent need, two and a half years ago we set out to rework Values and Visions for today’s world. It is much more global. It is for a wider age range (8-16), so that we are able to reach teenagers troubled or concerned by what they see in the world. It addresses full-on how we find meaning and purpose in an uncertain and volatile world, how we maintain our stability in an inherently unstable world and how we bring this capacity into education.
The new book uses the framework for transformation we all came up with long ago and which has been tried and tested in rough terrains in a wide variety of settings for twenty-six years. Together, we will enable young people to find meaning and purpose, to develop inner strength and hope, to gain a deep understanding of themselves and the values which will see us, together, get safely through these troubled times.
We would love others to join us in helping let this way of learning and living flow into schools and other organisations. Share with us your ideas and thoughts, your experiences of V&V, both old and new and let us work together towards our vision.