Values of parents: interpreting results of a survey of parents in terms of contemporary social change and educational policy directions

  • Hans Peter Muller


A survey of the values of parents of children in a primary school in the Western Cape provided significant although limited empirical material for the discussion of contemporary social change and educational policy in South Africa. The parents surveyed were mostly white, higher middle income class parents, who experienced life and work as very competitive, perceived themselves to be competitive as well, had a high level of satisfaction in their working life, felt themselves to be free and were generally satisfied with life. It was found that these parents give the highest priority to the development of the self-confidence and imagination of their children. This was a consistent pattern in their expectations for home and school formation. This finding is interpreted to be consistent with Ulrich Beck's expectation of value change in Second Modernity. The finding is also interpreted to mean that one could expect a high level of resonance between an education system that is value driven and the priorities of the parents. If parents want children to have a high level of self-esteem and a developed imagination, an education system that is not value driven but rule governed and/or simply performance orientated would be in conflict with their values. However, a closer look at the National Department of Education's specification of a values-driven education revealed an important gap between the motives for the Department's interest in a values-driven education and those of the parents. This gap will have to be bridged if schools in pre-dominantly white middle class areas are to align themselves with the national Department of Education's ideals of value formation in schools.

South African Journal of Education Vol.24(2) 2004: 159-169

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100