A Shift in Self-Identified Important Virtues, In-Class Project

In my Speech Foundations class today we did an interesting class project.  We were put into groups and we had to come up with a list of what we thought were common virtues that we thought were important as a group.  When all of the groups were done, the lists were put on the board.  Then the professor circled all of the themes, the virtues that showed up in most of the lists.  What stood out was that people in the class value family, friends, religious tolerance, honesty and loyalty (to friends and family).

The professor said that this simple class project is an interesting way for her to judge society as a whole, since the things that are listed change over time.  She said she’s been doing this same class project every semester since she started teaching, and she looks like she’s in her early 60s, so I imagine that goes back quite a ways.

She said that when she first started teaching, money was at the top of every list.  Students were very concerned with money, both having it and making lots of it.  Interestingly enough, the only list on the board that contained ‘money’ was from a group of people who were all first generation immigrants.  I imagine it has to do with perceived financial capacity.  Our economy may be faltering, but people are still generally taken care of, whereas people from other countries might not have those same safety nets, or might have family back home that they’re concerned about.

The next thing she pointed out was that most groups didn’t place family and friends on the list prior to September 11th, 2001.  She said that ‘religious tolerance’ and similar ideas started showing up shortly after that.  Her theory on the addition of family and friends is that after people died in an attack here in the US, it made people realize that they might not actually see their family or friends later.  Something could happen, so people started to value those ideas more, and perhaps their friends and families too.

I think the appearance of religious tolerance on these lists comes from the deluge of information people are exposed to now, in light of the war with Middle Eastern countries.  This conflict has been portrayed as a clash of civilizations and more often as a clash between religions.  To combat rampant fear of every ‘other’, ideas of religious tolerance, especially towards Muslims, has become prominent in everything from TV to classrooms.

The point of the exercise was to demonstrate what type of audience the class is.  It’s a Speech class, and the most important part of writing a speech is knowing who your speech is intended for.

9 thoughts on “A Shift in Self-Identified Important Virtues, In-Class Project”

  1. good article! i can understand why immigrants value money above the other things. you got that right, its because they dont have the same security back home. most filipinos i know who arent rich here, thrive well overseas when an opportunity is presented to them. its because we know how hard life here and when we are given a chance to do well in life, we take advantage of it. the only drawback is, some immigrants forget (or even deliberately try to forget and also even deny) where they came from and put so much priority on success in terms of amassing money


  2. RonW: I wouldn't doubt it Ron. Not at all. I've seen the way TSA agents slouch around in the airport. They're obviously low class and poorly educated in general.


  3. also 48 “other” TSA employees (molesters) are to be put on administrative leave as of today. Probably because they lied about graduating high school.


  4. RonW: Ooooh. Looks like some positions are opening up in the government sanctioned sexual molestation field. Perverts and molesters all over Hawaii must be celebrating and getting their resumes together!


  5. Peter L: I think people always valued friends and family, but it wasn't a conscious thought. People took it for granted maybe. The majority of the class is from the New York area and were kids when the Trade Towers were destroyed, so they grew up with a fear that most Americans never experienced in childhood. At least in any recent generation. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.RonW: I had to look that up, so I assume you're just wondering why people aren't that interested in money anymore? I have a feeling that ideas of racial, social and religious equality have been pushed hard in school to the point that students are more idealized and less practical by the time they get to college. Not that it's a bad thing. It's a nice change from the hordes of people that damn near worship dollar bills.


  6. Hmmm… Thats really interesting. i would have thought family/friends would have been there constantly throughout all the semesters. well that was an interesting read, once again you have saved me from boredom and given me something to think about! thanks bradley, keep up the good work.


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