Values Are Caught and Not Taught

According to some people, values are caught not taught. It means that values or behaviors are learned from the people who practice them, instead of being told. We catch these values by seeing them lived by example. The values that we actually live are caught rather than merely taught.

Factors affecting values formation of a person include:


Parents have the greatest influence on a person’s life. From the moment that we were born, they became our role models.When we toss values out for our children, we should keep in mind that these values must be sound and well-thought. Usually what happens at home shapes a person’s values and traits. For example, if at home the children have a high respect for their parents, then outside, those children might have a high respect for authority too. Whereas, when at home the parents are always fighting and arguing with each other, the tendency is children will become bully when they are outside. Thus, children caught either positive or negative values without even taught.


Schools are usually seen as more than just knowledge providers. They are required to teach students honesty, fairness and equality inside the classroom despite diveristy of culture. But this is easier said than done because teaching morals to students involves more than just cognitive (knowledge) level.

According to Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains, there are three realms of educational activities:

  1. Cognitive: mental skills – knowledge
  2. Affective: growth in feelings or emotional areas – attitude or self
  3. Psychomotor: manual or physical skills – behavioral skills

Skills in the cognitive domain revolve around knowledge, comprehension, and critical thinking on a particular topic. The affective domain typically targets the awareness and growth in attitudes, emotion, and feelings; and the psychomotor domain focuses on change and/or development in behavior and/or skills.

Often than not, we focus a lot on the knowledge aspect of character. The cognitive level is also important, but in the field of education, teachers should focus on how to help the learners consistently put values into action by:

  1. showing a good example to them,
  2. living what they preach, and
  3. doing what they talk.


Aside from the parents and teachers, values of the people also might become affected by the people around them like their peers, relatives, neighbors, and others. Whatever the environment generally accepts, people think of it as right even though sometimes it is wrong.


The media also provides a great influence in shaping up a person’s values and traits. From the telenovelas, to celebrities, to music icons, people tend to copy what their idols are doing. In this case, people are not taught but rather caught the values portrayed on TV.

People often say that character is developed when it is both caught and taught. It would flourish best when we accurately teach the skills needed to put values into action. Yet, these skills must also be lived. They need to be part of our everyday life because if we merely talk about the values that we have, without enacting them, most likely, values are caught and not taught.

Thus, values cannot just be taught in a formal sense because the application of these sets of values for one to personally adopt must be acquired or caught through modeled and observed behaviors outside of oneself.