3. Cultivating positive attitudes and values in a learning ecosystem

Cultivating positive attitudes and values in school can occur formally or informally. An increasing body of research suggests that students develop their attitudes and values in a large learning ecosystem, nourished from childhood and influencing students’ well-being as well as cognitive development into their adult lives.

One of the questions that arises with values and attitudes teaching is whether they are visible in the curriculum and taught explicitly, or left implicit and “caught” by students informally, as a result of their experiences with learning activities in the classroom or as part of their broader school life. Examples of explicit teaching include discussion of values and attitudes during formal gatherings such as assemblies, or specific approaches such as case studies and role plays, or engagement of learners in targeted classroom activities meant to develop their sense of accountability and duty (Maphalala and Mpofu, 2018[1]). Some countries have subjects such as moral education and ethics, or consider moral education or ethics as part of the cross-curricular themes or competencies and embed them into relevant subject areas (OECD, 2020[2]) (OECD, 2020[3]).

Values and attitudes that are not necessarily specified in the curriculum can also be “sought” or something that students might “aspire” to have or be. Teachers and parents often seek to cultivate a school or home culture with a certain set of values they believe to be important. Students often aspire to values modelled by their friends, siblings, teachers, parents, or professionals from the real world who may be engaged in values-oriented philanthropic activities, for example writers, musicians, or athletes, whom students might admire as role models.

The concept of a hidden curriculum is also relevant here. It refers to unspoken or implicit values, behaviours and norms that exist in educational settings, conveyed or communicated without awareness or intent (Alsubaie, 2015[4]; Jerald, 2006[5]). Teacher beliefs play a key role in this hidden curriculum and are a critical dimension of teacher quality in relation to non-academic competencies, when considering their observed practices in the classroom and their students’ perceptions of effectiveness (Witter, 2020[6]). Witter’s review suggests that student-centred beliefs about teaching and deeply oriented beliefs about learning correlate with better cognitive outcomes for students (Witter, 2020[6]), indicating that consciousness of values and beliefs is essential for pedagogical intervention.

To analyse how students develop their attitudes and values, not only being taught in formal learning settings, but also in informal and non-formal settings, a much broader analytical framework is necessary. The OECD E2030 project has set out a multi-layered ecosystem framework to curriculum change (with micro-, meso-, exo-, macro- and chrono-systems) (Figure 3.1). This can illustrate the complex landscape in which students learn from many people, including those other than teachers; even from animals and nature; from home, school or neighbourhood/community environments; or through the roles they are given to play; and learn from reflections on the experiences or events they have gone through.

A selection of proverbs/sayings from Japan and New Zealand below illustrates how it has been long perceived that attitudes and values are learned in a holistic environment, including formal, non-formal and informal learning (Box 3.1).

Research points to an array of localised contextual factors and the reciprocal relationships among them that affect curriculum design and implementation (Bronfenbrenner and Morris, 1998[8]; McLaughlin, 1990[9]; Spillane, Reiser and Reimer, 2002[10]; Tichnor-Wagner et al., 2018[11]).

The OECD Education 2030 ecosystem approach to curriculum analysis (Figure 3.1; Table 3.1) reflects the scope and complexity of systems that interact, build upon and influence one another, which have an impact on an individual’s development through life. The model recognises the interactions between system levels, the students and their environments, and how these affect student learning. At the broadest macro-level, cultural and societal beliefs about the purpose of education are overarching influences that have an impact on curriculum design, implementation and student learning (OECD, 2020[12]).

The ecosystem approach to curriculum redesign provides a framework for consideration of how values and attitudes can be an integral part of the redesign process.

From students’ perspectives on how the ecosystem approach can be applied to their own learning, they highlight the important role of attitudes, values and skills, such as trust, empathy, and co-operation, as integral components that can connect all the people across these different layers of the learning ecosystem (Box 3.2).

Curriculum redesign and implementation is a complex process that involves the intersection of multiple policy dimensions, a range of people and diversity of places (Honig, 2006[16]). Thus, the complex learning ecosystems can also be re-conceptualised through these three dimensions, which can cut across the micro-, meso-, exo-, macro-, and chrono-systems:

  • The policy dimension of curriculum redesign and implementation includes the goals, tools, documents, programmes and resources associated with the redesigned curriculum. This can include, for example, national curriculum, standards, or learning objectives (macro), teacher licensing and training (exo), school-level policy and guidance documents (meso), lesson or unit plans in classrooms (micro). Top-down approaches to curriculum design and implementation suggest a clear delineation between those who design curriculum (e.g. experts, government officials) and those who are given, or mandated, a curriculum to implement (e.g. teachers). Bottom-up approaches to implementation grant autonomy to local district, schools and educators, often involving students themselves, to design, make decisions about, and implement curriculum. Top-down and bottom-up approaches emphasise an iterative relationship between curriculum design and implementation, suggesting that how a curriculum is designed impacts implementation and how implementation unfolds reshapes the curriculum design (Tichnor-Wagner et al., 2018[11]; Tichnor-Wagner, 2019[17]).

  • People include all of those who play a role in designing and implementing curriculum. This includes, for example: students, teachers, parents, school leaders (micro and meso), teacher educators and community members (exo), and administrators, policymakers, and the media (macro). Teachers of course implement the curriculum, which is informed by the needs of the students in the classroom. They also can participate in the design phase. School leaders and administrators typically play a more significant role, but, as discussed in the policy dimension, other stakeholders should also be involved.

  • Places, or the varied contexts in which a curriculum is taught, shape implementation. This includes individual teachers’ prior experiences and beliefs; the level of trust among administrators and teachers; how school leaders frame and prioritise new curriculum; the vision that school leaders set for the school; opportunities for teacher collaboration and the nature of those interactions; available resources such as money, materials and time; competing policy demands; and workplace norms such as trust, communication, and collaboration (Bryk, Camburn and Louis, 1999[18]; Coburn, 2001[19]; Coburn and Russell, 2008[20]; Chapman, Wright and Pascoe, 2016[21]; Cheung and Wong, 2012[22]; Hamilton et al., 2013[23]; Stringfield et al., 1998[24]; Wohlstetter, Houston and Buck, 2015[25]; Priestley and Biesta, 2013[26]; Simmons and MacLean, 2016[27]).

Students, teachers and school leaders, as well as their educational environments, are part of a larger ecosystem in which parents and communities also play a role. At a government level, it is evident that there is extensive support for curriculum content to include attitudes and values and that this is promoted within the broader ecosystem, from teachers and parents to all wider educational stakeholders. Students can co-create learning environments in their classes, supporting teachers’ explicit and hidden curricula. They can be aspirational to others or role models in fostering attitudes and values among their peers. Different strategies are in place to make sure the whole curriculum is effectively implemented.

Stakeholders at all levels are responsible for teaching values and attitudes throughout students’ educational journeys. Students are learners but also active observers who seek and absorb attitudes and behaviours to which they are exposed in their social environments. Parental support is crucial for a healthy and solid social-emotional development. Teachers are known to be the main creators of classroom cultures and direct influencers of students’ growth mindset (Bryan et al., 2021[28]), and, in general, values drivers, even without intent; their influence is developed from early childhood education and care. Finally, the influence of local communities, foundations, private companies and other social partners can be essential for encouraging students’ passions, career and personal ambitions, as well as motivation for lifelong learning.

Putting students at the centre of learning implies taking into consideration the values that matter most to them. When asked about which values should be part of the curriculum and therefore implemented in schools, students have strong opinions, based on their own experiences and aspirations for their societies. In feedback, students indicated that personal and school experiences, both positive and negative, and expectations for their adult lives were what influenced the values and attitudes they considered during their time at school.

Curriculum designers face challenges related to incorporating values in curriculum, such as resistance to inclusion, and difficulties in reaching consensus across diverse stakeholders on which values (if any) to include. While these difficulties may seem common across systems, they are not generalisable across contexts. A study in England showed that students expect schools to help them develop particular values as part of the education of the whole child. The study, which examined the perceptions of over 5 000 students aged from 10 to 19, reported that students expect teachers to engage in character-development education about the values which can assist in their holistic development (Arthur, 2011[29]). Curriculum designers may be heartened to know that students themselves appreciate that curriculum covers values in addition to disciplinary learning.

At OECD Education 2030 workshops and related opportunities for collaboration and sharing of ideas, students discussed how cognitive and social/emotional skills are prerequisites for further learning, developing student agency and ensuring well-being. The following personal reflections highlight the values and attitudes that students considered as imperatives of curriculum design (Box 3.3).

As highlighted by Tara (Box 3.3), it is important to provide students with space where they can feel safe and learn from failures. This is particularly important for students’ well-being, and part of the conditions that make students’ learning more effective and enjoyable. For this, it is important to avoid creating excessive pressure to learn new and more content, as well as anxieties and stress about exams (OECD, 2020[2]); this can be deeply rooted in the culture with attitudes and values such as fear of failure, fear of losing, or fear of missing out (Box 3.4).

To shape a better future towards increased well-being of individuals and the planet, today’s society needs a new narrative and a big mindset shift, along with systemic change, for which revising the goals of education set out in curricula is of fundamental importance.

How can these attitudes and values students aspire to develop with their own sense of purpose help them to thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s world? Research suggests that social and emotional learning is correlated with increased student academic outcomes and highlights the importance non-cognitive factors play on psychological well-being and the education of the whole child/learner (Darling-Hammond and Cook-Harvey, 2018[44]; Farrington et al., 2012[45]; Weissberg and Cascarino, 2013[46]; Kanopka et al., 2020[47]; OECD, 2021[48]).

How will such skills, attitudes and values support students to enhance their learning and well-being or further develop other types of skills, attitudes and values? The following section will summarise some of the recent findings from the OECD data and literature that are relevant to the types of attitudes and values considered as part of future-ready competencies in the OECD Learning Compass.

A recent OECD report shows, for example, that students’ social and emotional skills are strongly related to their psychological well-being and that 15-year-old students who describe themselves as highly creative also tend to report greater levels of persistence and eagerness to learn new things (OECD, 2021[48]) The study also reported that students’ social and emotional skills are strong predictors of school grades, irrespective of students’ background, age cohort and location. This is particularly the case for attitudinal skills, such as persistence and curiosity, which are strong predictors of student performance among 10-year-old and 15-year-old students (OECD, 2021[48]).

The impact of quality values education is not limited to students’ affective development and well-being; it also has the potential to improve their academic progress (Benninga et al., 2003[49]; Benninga et al., 2016[50]; Lovat and Clement, 2008[51]; Zins et al., 2004[52]; Berkowitz and Bier, 2007[53]). Students who understand and internalise values and attitudes may, in turn, be more motivated to learn and engage in critical thinking activities. Indeed, incorporating values into education has the potential to promote behaviours that make learning more effective for students.

PISA 2012 results showed that two of the most important ingredients for success in school are the motivation to achieve and being goal-oriented (OECD, 2013[54]). These attitudes allow students with less ability but more determination to be better able to pursue and achieve their goals than students with more ability but who are unable to set objectives for themselves (Eccles and Wigfield, 2002[55]; Duckworth et al., 2010[56]).

These attitudes are also crucial beyond school: being motivated and able to successfully set and pursue goals can be driving forces behind lifelong learning for future citizens (OECD, 2013[54]). These aspects, e.g. goal-setting and motivation, are deeply connected with the concept of student agency in the OECD Learning Compass (OECD, 2019[57]).

PISA 2018 data showed that when students had higher motivation and self-efficacy, set more ambitious learning goals, and valued school more, they scored higher in reading, mathematics and science. The data also showed that students scored higher on reading when they reported greater co-operation among peers and that students who reported having a growth mindset scored higher in PISA. Furthermore, the analysis suggests how student attitudes are interrelated across different aspects, e.g. students with a growth mindset valued school more, set more ambitious learning goals, reported higher levels of self-efficacy, and displayed higher levels of motivation and lower levels of fear of failure (OECD, 2019[58]).

As discussed earlier, hidden curriculum can play a positive or negative role in education at a system or school level; therefore, it is important to be aware of its potential and how it may manifest in school (Alsubaie, 2015[4]). Teachers may employ a hidden curriculum to complement official curriculum’s expected values, or to encourage learners to develop behaviour patterns that are valued in society (Cornelius-Ukpepi, Edoho and Ndifon, 2007[59]).

Teacher self-awareness and self-reflection are necessary to making a valuable hidden curriculum an explicit adjunct to the intended written curriculum. The OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 project is currently exploring the types of competencies future-ready teachers need, and is working on the teacher-related concept-making and vision-making, e.g. new interpretations of teacher agency and teacher well-being. The visions will be developed into the OECD Teaching Compass, which will mirror the OECD Learning Compass.

The following section will explore research findings and cutting-edge practices regarding teachers’ increased support of student learning and well-being; e.g. teachers’ self-efficacy, collective teacher collective self-efficacy; teachers’ perceptions of a subject discipline's boundaries; teacher agency, co-agency; mutual trust, respect and responsibility – with students and parents; and relationships, school climate, and growth mindset classroom cultures.

Teachers' attitudes and beliefs of expectancy and self-efficacy have been found to promote student cognitive engagement and achievement in academic activities (Archambault, Janosz and Chouinard, 2012[60]). In past decades, a number of studies pointed out the important role of teachers’ self-efficacy on student achievement outcomes (Anderson, Greene and Loewen, 1988[61]; Midgley, Feldlaufer and Eccles, 1989[62]; Mujis and Reynolds, 2000[63]). Different studies have proven that teachers who possess a high sense of self-efficacy and believe in their capacity to help students learn are usually more satisfied with their own work and with their students’ behaviours and learning abilities (Pajares and Graham, 1999[64]; Tschannen-Moran, Hoy and Hoy, 1998[65]; Caprara et al., 2006[66]).

Other studies confirm this – teacher self-belief engenders positive attitudes, such as greater professional accomplishments, more stimulating relationships with colleagues, and higher enthusiasm regarding their role as teachers (Evans, 1998[67]; Ross, 1998[68]; Tschannen-Moran and Hoy, 2001[69]) – attitudes that will in turn have a positive impact on students’ motivation, and on their willingness to keep involved and on task, and their positive attitudes towards school (Ashton and Webb, 1986[70]; Evans, 1998[67]; Soodak and Podell, 1993[71]; Ross, Hogaboam-Gray and Hannay, 2001[72]). Teacher enthusiasm and support also predicted student enjoyment of reading (OECD, 2019[58]).

At schools in which teachers’ collective self-efficacy is strong, students perform better and the influence of individual characteristics, such as socio-economic status and ethnicity, on achievement is reduced (Bandura, 1993[73]; Newmann, Rutter and Smith, 1989[74]; Archambault, Janosz and Chouinard, 2012[60]). This is highly aligned with the concept of agency, co-agency and collective agency, not only for students but also for teachers.

Children’s epistemic curiosity in the classroom is in large part directed by their teacher and their perceptions of the subject discipline’s boundaries (Bernstein, 2000[75]). For example, in secondary schools, there is a tendency to teach individual subjects in silos, apart from other subjects. When subject compartmentalisation becomes entrenched, consideration of wider contexts or the scope of real-world problems can be diminished (Billingsley et al., 2016[76]). This has been illustrated in a scenario where students walked out of a history class and a science class with different explanations as to why the Titanic sank and different perceptions of who was to blame.

In a world that rewards individuals who can create, apply and synthesise knowledge (OECD, 2013[77]; OECD, 2016[78]) examining big questions and real-world problems helps to build student resilience to misinformation and can improve students’ attitudes towards learning. For example, participants in a big questions workshop called ‘Renoir’s Painting’ used scientific and artistic ways of investigating to address the question: “How did audiences see and react to Renoir’s portrait Madame Léon Clapisson when it was first painted?” (see (Billingsley and Windsor, 2020[79])). Another example of the workshop was to question whether robots can ever be persons succeeded in developing participants’ appreciation of the strengths and limitations of science and the distinctive natures of different disciplines in a real-world context (Billingsley and Nassaji, 2019[80]).

These workshops aimed and succeeded in increasing students’ epistemic insight and in particular, their epistemic curiosity and their critical thinking about the nature, application and communication of knowledge. Pedagogies and practice that assist young people to become knowledgeable require learning spaces that cultivate intellectual and moral virtues like wisdom and compassion, alongside pedagogies that enhance students’ capacities to work with uncertainty and consider different disciplinary perspectives (Billingsley et al., 2018[81]) (OECD, 2019[82]).

When teachers have high expectations, believe students have the ability to learn, and take responsibility for students’ learning, students are more engaged, feel more competent while they are learning, learn more, use fewer avoidance strategies when facing difficulties, and perform better (Feldlaufer, Midgley and Eccles, 1988[83]; Lee and Loeb, 2000[84]; Stipek and Daniels, 1988[85]). Moreover, regardless of students’ abilities, when teachers trust students’ potential and ability to learn, students feel more competent and report greater engagement and achievement (Brophy, 1983[86]; Connell and Wellborn, 1991[87]; Goddard, Tschannen-Moran and Hoy, 2001[88]).

The recent health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has changed priorities globally. New values have emerged as part of tackling the crisis, to both guide responses to possible future crises of this same magnitude, and to learn from this situation. In essence, the pandemic provided teachers and parents with the opportunity, though unplanned, to assess the extent to which children and young people successfully exhibited or demonstrated what emerged as essential values and dispositions such as trust, respect, responsibility and reliability during this time (Lambert, 2020[89]).

School climate can be conceptualised as students’ sense of belonging, disciplinary climate and teacher support, among other features (OECD, 2019[58]). A report on the inclusion of values in the Australian curriculum indicates that education about values has the potential to positively impact school climate, the classroom environment and teacher-student relationships, therefore supporting better student learning outcomes and more positive attitudes and behaviours (Curriculum Corporation, 2003[90]). Values education can also improve interactions between students, which in turn contributes to more harmonious and productive learning environments (Lovat, 2011[91]) (Flay and Allred, 2010[92]; Goodwin, Costa and Adonu, 2004[93]; Snyder et al., 2009[94]; Watson, 2006[95]).

A positive school climate is recognised as being critical for students, teachers, parents and school leaders. Research conducted with 480 adolescents from urban schools in Sydney, Australia, found that non-instructional aspects of the school experience, such as the relationships that adolescents had with adults at school and with peers, were protective factors that contributed to their resilience and academic achievement (Wasonga, Christman and Kilmer, 2003[96]). Values in curriculum that promote behaviours and attitudes around co-operation, enthusiasm and self-efficacy among students and teachers may, in turn, relate to better performance.

Classroom cultures with growth mindset help to support and galvanise student motivation, behaviour and performance by giving students an adaptive way to make meaning from everyday academic experiences. Research shows that students guided by a growth (vs. fixed) mindset tend to pursue goals that emphasise mastering challenges (as opposed to goals designed to bring positive and avoid negative judgements of their ability). They tend to view failures and setbacks as signs that they need to exert more effort and try new strategies (rather than as signs that they lack ability), and they tend to see mistakes and confusion as an important part of the learning process (rather than an indicator of limited potential) (Murphy et al., 2021[97]). New strategies are needed to achieve new vision, cultivate new school cultures, and new competency-based curriculum, which highlight the important role that attitudes and values can play. The experience of a school in Israel illustrates how a new skills-based curriculum incorporated co-agency and collaboration as essential components of its development (Box 3.5).

In a study of teachers’ exemplarity, Vivienne Collinson (2012[98]) identified sources of teacher attitudes and values, the most quoted being:

  • family and personal environment;

  • other teachers or role models;

  • vicarious learning;

  • daily routines and experiences;

  • reflection;

  • inquiry;

  • government politics or political leaders.

Teachers interviewed for her study identified two additional sources of values and attitudes: philosophy/ religion (as a source during adulthood, not simply from family and close associates during childhood) and intensive, post-certification professional development over a period of time. The study highlights the important role of teacher professional development on values: “well-designed professional development may be able to help teachers surface, articulate, understand, and synthesise their own values into a coherent worldview and to appreciate how their values and attitudes affect their work and those whose lives they influence” (Collinson, 2012[98]).

While consolidated research has shown that parental backgrounds (e.g. their social, economic and cultural capital) as well as the home environments (e.g. books at home, safe and secure environment) can affect their children’s learning and well-being, the actual activities they are engaged in, as well as their beliefs and behaviours at home, can also make a difference either positively or negatively. For example, excessive demands from parents and/or parental pressure to help their children succeed in school, which may seem natural and well meaning, can take a toll on children’s academic performance and well-being.

All parents can make a difference for their children and play an important role in their children's development of attitudes and values. For example, In the PISA global competence analyses introduced in Chapter 2, a positive association was found between parents’ attitudes towards immigrants and those of their children across all 14 countries that collected data from the parents’ questionnaire. This suggests that parents can play important and complementary roles in developing a positive intercultural and global understanding among adolescents. Parents can transmit not only knowledge about global issues but also attitudes and values; as role models, showing interest in and understanding other cultures, demonstrating tolerance towards those who are different from them and awareness of global issues that affect us all.

In PISA 2015, parental involvement in their children’s education and lives were found to be positively related to their performance in science (OECD, 2017[99]). Not all forms of engagement are equal, however. Figure 3.3 shows that parental activities that may not necessarily be school-specific, such as eating the main meal with the child around a table or simply spending time talking to their child are also positively associated with students’ higher performance in science. On the other hand, more direct support related to science learning such as helping with homework, obtaining science-related materials or discussing how science relates to everyday life has shown negative associations (OECD, 2017[99]).

This suggests that parents’ knowledge about a subject and support to their children in this subject-specific area may not be as relevant for their children’s performance as some of the more routine actions that are rooted in parents’ values and attitudes, such as valuing an enriching parent-child relationship, considering it important to spend time or eat together, and caring for how their children are doing in school and in life.

Research shows the importance of parents supporting their children at home with homework when they are young, but adolescents and pre-adolescents seem to benefit more from different types of parental support as they transition into more autonomous stages of their lives (Fan, 2010[100]; Hill and Tyson, 2009[101]; Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2010[102]).

The occurrence of these parental routine and relational activities at least once a week has also shown to be positively associated with greater levels of students’ life satisfaction (Figure 3.4). Research has shown the positive effects on children of high expectations combined with responsive and warm parental support (Burns, 2019[103]); (Georgiou, Ioannou and Stavrinides, 2017[104]; Kalimuthu, 2018[105]), but when those expectations are unrealistic, from either parents or teachers, children are likely to suffer.

Parents face enormous pressure to help their children succeed at school, especially as students approach important transitions, such as preparing for entry to university, which often requires that they pass competitive entry examinations. Parents may also have their own high expectations throughout their child’s development about how well they need to achieve in school.

Unrealistic curriculum demands may cause teachers to assign some of the content that cannot be covered in the classroom to homework, for example, expecting them to learn by themselves. While homework can be used as a tool to support students’ motivation and achievement, when it is excessive it has a negative impact on students’ mental and physical health (Bempechat, 2004[106]). Excessive study hours can be translated into less time for students to engage in other critical activities for their development, such as sleeping, exercising and having time for socialising with family and friends, and may not necessarily lead to better student learning (Chraif and Anitei, 2012[107]; OECD, 2016[78]).

Parental responses may include a load of additional school-related materials, or over-involvement in helping with homework. This can aggravate school environments already experiencing curriculum overload (OECD, 2020[2]), which in turn leads to homework overload. Homework overload and/or excessive parental expectations can also lead parents to schedule after-school private lessons/tutoring, a practice that is common in Asian countries where a shadow education system has developed (OECD, 2020[2]; Bray, 2007[108]). Specialised tutoring services are common in Korea (hagwons) and in Japan (juku) as well as in parts of Europe. In an effort to boost students’ achievement and their chances of being accepted into prestigious universities, this tutoring can add a substantive load of supplementary demands on the already burdened lives of students and inadvertently lead to negative psychological and educational outcomes (OECD, 2020[2]; Bukowski, 2017[109]).

As mentioned, high parental involvement is positively related to better psychological adjustment and life satisfaction as well as improved general physical health among adult children (Burns, 2019[103]; Fingerman et al., 2012[110]). On the other hand, parents’ unrealistic expectations of their children’s success, coupled with overly protective attitudes can exacerbate the emotional and mental pressure on their children. A recent OECD report shows the uncertain benefits of “helicopter” parenting, i.e. when parents figuratively “hover above” their children to protect them from harm. Children of helicopter parents are less likely to become resilient, show lower levels of psychological well-being and are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, and to engage in risky behaviours such as binge drinking and sexual risk-taking such as among college students (Burns, 2019[103]; Odenweller, Booth-Butterfield and Weber, 2014[111]; Lemoyne and Buchanan, 2011[112]; Segrin et al., 2012[113]; Bendikas, 2010[114]). These students also tend to experience lower academic outcomes, such as lower grades, lower level of engagement at school, as well as lower self‐efficacy and resilience (Burns, 2019[103]; Shaw, 2017[115]).

The issue of intensive parenting or the over-involvement of parents has received much public attention, in particular, with some new terminologies to categorise hyper-parenting especially among (upper) middle class parents, such as “over-parenting” and “tiger parenting”, in addition to “helicopter parenting” (Ulferts, 2020[116]). Since parenting can support or hinder the development of a certain attitudes and values in children based on parents’ own attitudes and values, careful attention, observation and reflection is required on the ecosystemic relationship between parents and children, in particular, when supporting co-agency between the two.

Resilience is an important component in helping individuals reconcile tensions and dilemmas and overcome adversity. The PISA 2018 findings point to academic resilience1; in 64 of 77 countries, the more academically resilient students were those who reported having more support from their parents, having a growth mindset, and experiencing a positive school climate (OECD, 2019[58]).

PISA 2018 has also shown that there are external factors influencing students’ attitudes, such as parents’ emotional support, teachers’ support and school climate (OECD, 2019[117]) This is particularly relevant when students experience the effects of long-standing conflicts, and complex health, environmental and well-being challenges. Bouncing back from loss and defeat is essential for working productively towards solutions. And, thus, it is of particular importance that policy, school and curricula set an explicit goal towards equity and student well-being (OECD, 2021[118]); in particular, for students who may lack parental support, who have lost their parents, who are victims of child abuse or child neglect, or who need to provide care for their parents at the expense of their own learning and well-being.

Positive attitudes and dispositions to learn have crucial relevance for developing a lifelong learning mindset in students. While individual attitudes and dispositions to learn largely develop early in life – starting in the home, and continuing through kindergarten and throughout the schooling years – the benefits carry on into adulthood (Tuckett and Field, 2016[119]). In fact, individuals who have positive learning attitudes are more likely to engage in further learning throughout life (OECD, 2021[120]).

The recent OECD Measuring What Matters for Child Well-Being report states that early caregiving experiences lead children to form internal working models, representing beliefs and expectations they hold about themselves, the social world and relationships (OECD, 2021[121]). Children who feel secure and safe in their environment enjoy higher self-esteem and self-confidence, and are able to self-regulate and be resilient. Insecurely attached children have difficulties self-regulating and managing stress, and are more likely to experience relationship difficulties in adulthood and encounter difficulties in rearing their own children (Howe, 2005[122]).

Early attachment security is found to influence measures of emotional health, self-esteem, agency and self-confidence, ego resilience, and social competence in interactions with peers, teachers, romantic partners and others (Suess and Sroufe, 2005[123]). Attachment security is also an important consideration in treating childhood health and behavioural difficulties and neurodevelopmental disorders (Rees, 2005[124]).

However, issues are often raised for children transitioning from the culture of early childhood education and care to the school culture, which is often moving more towards teacher-centred from child-centred, and more towards academic subject-area focus from interdisciplinary learning and well-being, for example. The OECD analyses on the transition suggest that the focus should be revisiting the vision, purpose and values of schooling and making schools ready for children, not children ready for school (OECD, 2017[125]).

Portugal ensures continuous learning across different levels of education through “clusters”. While the Portuguese curriculum frameworks are organised by age groups (OECD, 2020[2]); these curriculum frameworks can be interwoven by using a coherent theme from early childhood to young adolescence, for example, STE(A)M carefully designed for developmentally age-appropriate practices (Box 3.6).

Community can play a significant role in shaping and reshaping the attitudes and values students aspire to. By encountering new cultures, learning about power (balance and rebalance), and discovering what it means to be a member of a society, students can find their communities to be a powerful source of values and attitudes education (Schultz, 1990[126]). Involving students within communities can be a solution to the long-time dichotomy between theory and practice that has always existed in the educational process (Schön, 1983[127]; Schön, 1987[128]).

Students who have participated in school-sponsored community service programmes describe their service experience as a critical turning point in shaping the direction of their educational programme, as well as of their future vocational choice. The opportunity to encounter the needs of their community in a structured way has helped lend focus to the rigorous study they undertake in their academic programme (Schultz, 1990[126]). Indeed, volunteering and collaborating with external members of society, such as associations or foundations, can provide opportunities to put into practice theoretical learning on values and attitudes.

In the spirit of learning in a wider ecosystem than simply that of the school context, schools are creating programmes and methods to link lessons and school life to post-school life. These approaches promote student autonomy and are designed to build power of choice and positive expectations regarding their school career, professional and personal futures.

The following stories are examples of programmes that link school education to broader, integrated and authentic learning. The competencies, including attitudes and values, learned through such programmes are believed to endure for life after-school. Box 3.7 illustrates how collective impact can be brought out by combining different approaches e.g. curriculum autonomy and flexibility, student profile development and monitoring, pedagogical framework, and collaborative partnerships e.g. among schools, vocational education and training, and higher education institutions.

Embedding values and attitudes in curriculum has consequences for society as well as individuals (Harrison, Morris and Ryan, 2016[129]) by helping students develop a greater awareness of the wider community, and understanding of the impact of their attitudes and actions on that community (Farrer, 2010[130]). A qualitative study in the United States reported that a group of students receiving values education was able to demonstrate a deep understanding of conflict management, as reported by their teachers, education counsellors and administrators (Khoury, 2017[131])

The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals Indicator 4.7.1 is agreed as the “extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment”. As discussed in Chapter 1, the development of attitudes and values (e.g. “respect for people from other countries”) are integral to “global citizenship education” and it is increasingly embedded in different subject learning, while countries/jurisdictions make different choices on the extent to which it will be integrated into curriculum and into which subject areas it is embedded. Furthermore, when it comes to actual classroom practice, careful design is required in order to boost student agency, e.g. ignite a sense of purpose in children and students discovering the global-local continuum. A school in Germany has a school culture based on UNESCO’s four pillars of education and below is one student’s experience of this approach (Box 3.8).

The need to develop resilience has been a constant throughout phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Education systems needed to respond to school closures, to the challenges of online, hybrid and distance learning as well as maintaining student and teacher well-being.

A recent study on tertiary education students in China and South Korea showed that online teaching and learning demonstrated resilience in students (Lee et al., 2021[133]). However, resilience is not an innate disposition or personality trait that emerges in a crisis, it can be a value developed through distance learning activities. Those involving group-based learning, such as discussion forums, are most effective when they include a level of teacher presence and teacher-learner interactions (Tsai, Ku and Campbell, 2021[134]; Bernard et al., 2009[135]; Naidu, 2021[136]).

Resilience has helped education systems to continue working effectively to find solutions to support distance learning and students’ mental health issues related to isolation. Japan provides an example of this education system resilience, responding to the need to strengthen and prepare for potential or existing crises (see Box 3.9; IIEP-UNESCO (n.d.[137])).

Inciting the closure of schools for a long period of time, COVID-19 has accelerated education inequality, and increased achievement gaps between students who benefit from full-time schooling and tutoring in school and those who do not. Closures have also disadvantaged students who could not afford compensatory resources for the lack of access to school and those who lack sufficient equipment or internet connection at home to succeed in digitalised education. These kinds of disadvantages provide focus on the values of equality and equity as important curricula inclusions.

The attitudes and values in the learning ecosystem will be further elaborated in the forthcoming OECD Education 2030 publication, focusing on understanding curriculum change as part of a larger ecosystem change, scheduled to be published in 2022.


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← 1. Academic resilience is defined as performing well in reading (top 25% in the country) despite being socio-economically disadvantaged.

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