Full Review by Dr. Shelley Carson
"The family has created an inspiring book – A Garden of Values: Cultivating Values, A Nature Inspired Way - about how they developed, indeed how all of our families can develop, a set of mutual values to follow in a modern life full of uncertainty, distractions, and overemphasis on status.
We need to take a step back with our families and identify the values that are truly important and that will keep us on the path through life that we always meant to take. Reading this short book may provide that step.
How can we discover the values that are important to us as a family unit?
How can we incorporate these values into our daily lives when we’re together and apart?
And how can we reinvigorate our own lives through our connection with nature?
Titus Yong and his children Chloe and Aeron, along with cameos by other family members, provide their unique and thoughtful answers to these questions, accompanied by lovely and meaningful photographs that they have taken throughout their own quest to develop a Garden of Values.
I highly recommend this book as breath of fresh air, and a model for how a busy and accomplished family can still find time to develop and live important and life-affirming values together."
Full Review by Chua Shi Qian, Natalie
“What are my fundamental values and how can they stand the test of time?”
“How can my students develop their identities and lead purposeful lives by anchoring themselves in values that they hold dear to?”
I begin to think about these questions after reading the book, “Garden of Values – Cultivating Values, A Nature-Inspired Way”. Dedicated to families and learning teams, the book takes a deep-dive at unpacking what it means to put values into action.
To this end, a first principles approach is taken where the author and his family co-constructs what it means to live a purposeful life. It is one where the family, as a collective unit, is aware of the values that matter most to them and chooses to uphold the values in daily life. This is in contrast to the didactic approach of listing down values and functionally suggesting ways to live by them. The former approach (which is what the book advocates for) is more sustainable as it harnesses the power of intrinsic motivation.
As an educator, I find that it is important to know my beliefs and values well before I seek to influence my students to do the same. After all, others will not buy what we do not believe in. The challenge is to drill deep and unearth the concept of “self”. For example, a person who relishes the beauty of nature may initially think that he prioritises the value of “beauty” when a deeper dive may reveal his desire for “harmony”.
There is potential in facilitating the self-discovery process in the classroom by reading and discussing the book with students. As values serve as the internal GPS that gives purpose to a person’s career, there is scope to embed the teachings of this book in the school’s Education & Career Guidance (ECG) curriculum.
Some suggestions as follows:
Prioritisation of values by the students can be done at the early stages of the ECG curriculum. This is done to build self-awareness, an important milestone that complements the downstream phase where students are introduced to different careers (which feeds into the virtuous cycle by further building on the student’s understanding of self). Teaching tools to adopt include Circle Time which encourages students to tune in to the thoughts of others. This mode helps sharpen the students’ thinking and sense of identity.
As beliefs and values are contextual (having arisen from life experiences), it is useful for the student to revisit his/her thoughts at least once a year across their number of years in the school. A student’s individual journal to document the prioritisation of values and the thinking behind the prioritisation over the years is important. This provides clarity on the development of the student.
To sum up, I highly recommend this book to all educators. An introspective piece of work. Get a copy now!
Review by Caroline Tan
(About Carolyn Tan: she is a co-founder of Thrive35, a social enterprise that connects and strengthens communities through creative collaborations.)
"Garden of Values offers a sneak peak into the lies of the authors' family.
It is interesting how to family builds their source and aspirational values through learning about and appreciating nature.
Thought provoking questions are also posed after each chapter to help users to apply the sharing in that chapter. There is much to learn from the family.
The confidence, creativity, character and brightness of the two children are testament to the impact of cultivating good character values by parents from a young age."