Transforming Values through Education

Transforming Values through Education

         Viewed in historical context, schooling or formal education in today’s India presents a stark contrast to the dominant ideals noted in its indigenous tradition. In the contemporary period schooling has a clear emphasis on skills and information geared toward financial benefits. It does not address the needs and aspirations of the people, society, and nation in general. In some way it aggravates the problems by alienating people from their cultural ethos and heritage. The training of the mind in isolation is proving dangerous for the holistic development of children. The head, heart and hand, all
three need to be coordinated for the fullest development of human potential. The holistic development requires attention to physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual aspects of development. Development needs to be orchestrated within the framework of values. In the context of our commitment to the Constitutional values, education is to be viewed as a medium to inculcate and promote the same in students. To this end, it is important to realise that values are caught and not taught. Thus it is the way a curriculum is transacted in terms of concrete processes and activities that the students imbibe the values. The abstract knowledge of values does not go very far.



         The values have to be woven into the curriculum, school environment, and teaching-learning process in a way that these facilitate transmission of values in children. Learning needs to be illustrative of values in action. The lesson in any subject, be it mathematics, civics, Hindi, science or English may be designed, deliberated upon, and imparted in such a way that they necessarily invite value related reflection and action in a natural fashion. Similarly, the delivery of subject content may have in-built elements of sharing, participation, and care. By value informed design of the modes of interaction between students and students, students and teachers, and teachers and teachers within the school setup, possibilities for developing and reinforcing values may be created. This requires commitment and determination on the part of teachers and investment of the system to stand by the values they admire. Being alert to the occasions in classroom interactions, possibilities can be created to learn, practise and enact values.

Integration of values and education, thus, may be viewed at three levels – curriculum, school and classroom environment, and teaching-learning process. Let us attend to these elements.

1. THE CURRICULUM

      In the Indian context the relevance of values to the framing of curriculum has an interesting history. The Sergeant Committee felt in 1944 that a curriculum devoid of an ethical base would prove barren in the end. The role of religious and moral education in the growth of character was expressed by the Mudaliar Commission in 1953. In 1964, the Kothari Commission Report also concluded that there was a need for preparing the youth to face both ‘work’, which could be compared to living and ‘life’ which is higher and more sublime than ‘living’.

       Curriculum does not only include academic activities but co-curricular activities also. Thus, every activity may convey implicitly or explicitly a chosen value. To organise any curriculum in such a way as to inculcate values, we need first be aware of the objectives of the curriculum. There should be a focus on an all round development of children by covering cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. There shall not be over emphasis exclusively on the training of the mind. Emphasis on an all round development assumes that personal and social qualities, interests and values too form an integral part of education.

At the Nursery level some rhymes/songs can be used which highlight the fact that God loves all his children without any consideration of high and low births, religion, creed and status. Games, both indoor and outdoor, which instil a sense of equality among the children (for example khokho, hide and seek) may be played. Teachers to teach all children (whether someone is the ward of a village pradhan, MLA, MP or an ordinary citizen) on the footing of equality, especially on matters of arrival at school and departure from it.

(1) At the Primary level some tests and stories should be recommended which inculcate a feeling of oneness among all sections of society, irrespective of caste, creed, status, etc.

(2) At the Middle level, religious tolerance, mutual respect for people of different sections and statuses can be communicated to students using different texts; group activities may be planned which instil mutual cooperation and harmony among different pupils.

(3) At the Secondary level, texts highlighting equality among nation States, irrespective of their size and population can be used; group activities (like drama or play) may be planned which will inculcate a feeling of unity in diversity. Caution may be taken to divide the groups in a harmonious way so that strong and weak students are evenly balanced on both sides.

(4) At the Post Secondary level, special courses may be provided on egalitarian values and their imperative need for a balanced society; projects and outdoor activities should be planned to involve students (through NCC/ NSS) in community-service activities/adult literacy programmes and adventure.

  • Children’s Literature

            As you know, children’s literature plays a very significant role in imparting values. Choudhuri (2005) opines that children’s literature reflects values in a more gentle and propositional manner rather than being prescriptive and narrative. He further goes on to say that Panchtantra tales invariably convey a moral. They teach values. India has developed its unique children’s literature that promotes national pride and culture. Choudhuri says that most of children’s literature in Indian languages is based on the traditional Indian literature like folk tales, mythological stories, retelling of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata stories, Jataka stories, and other popular tales of Birbal, Tenali Raman, Gonu Jha and others.

         You will be benefited by reflecting on the importance and need of using the rich resource of Indian classical traditional tales and folklores in the contemporary context. Due to nuclear family system and absence of time with parentsfor storytelling, such resources can be used. Choudhuri mentions folklore as very important in inculcating values. In a Bengali local folk story, Manik Pir, a local faqir with the status of a folk god, evokes goddess Lakshmi, imploring her to help a poor Muslim hut builder, Murad Kangal. In no time, Lakshmi proceeds to prepare an elaborate meal to help  Murad Kangal feed the two hungry faqirs, Manik and Gaj. Choudhury feels that this simple narrative evokes a shared memory, where religious and canonical boundaries hold little meaning and offer a pluralistic discourse.

2. THE SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM ENVIRONMENT

          The culture and the philosophy of the school is a powerful source of inculcating values. Depending on the atmosphere of the school, children acquire sensitivity to different sets of values and ideals. Similarly, the physical environment of the classroom and ambience of the school communicates certain values that may facilitate or hinder development of values. The arrangement of desks or chairs encourages particular modes of interaction for certain topics in the lesson. Given an ample space and a small class size, the circular or oval arrangement of chairs encourages active student engagement (Vosniadou, 2004).

3. THE TEACHING-LEARNING PROCESS

           The inculcation and transmission of desired values inherent in the curriculum is realised through the teaching-learning process. The teaching-learning process does not merely include delivering the specific content with a view to perform (or excel!) in examinations. The teacher-student interaction holds a very significant place in the teaching-learning process. Mahatma Gandhi believed that students learn not from their books but from their teachers as well, which are their role model. The various elements of the teaching-learning process thus play key roles in conveying desired values to children. To foster values like secularism, democracy, andegalitarianism, the teacher has to first inculcate these values in her and be a model to her students.

   It is desirable that there should not be any scope for discrimination, stereotyping or hierarchy based on the categories of gender, caste, class, religion, etc. With the concept of inclusive schools in place, we also need to make our classrooms inclusive in a true sense. Equal opportunities for
participation and success needs to be ensured by the teacher. Since values are learned better when they are not taught directly, the teaching-learning process should be organised to provide scope for experiential exercises. Through involving students actively in discussion, dialogue and practical activities, the teacher may make them think and reflect on human actions and events (Seshadri, 2005). For this, different perspectives from other cultures and contemporary realities in various parts of the world can be consulted and values of national and international integration can be arrived at.
Media resources can also be utilised for the same. Asking students to think critically about the media content in terms of values, bias and prejudice being conveyed can facilitate students to have individual views about existing context of our society. Cooperative learning is another way to foster the values of equality and tolerance. Giving opportunities to students to work in groups will give them scope to negotiate compromise and work together towards a solution.

4. Evaluation/Assessment

            Continuous and comprehensive system of evaluation covers scholastic as well as non-scholastic aspects of students’ development. Evaluation of attitudes and values is one aspect of the scheme. But a dilemma and ambiguity regarding evaluating values can be observed. Srivastava (2004) lists different issues related to the same, such as whether values should be evaluated at all or not; which technique or a combination of techniques is more suitable for evaluating values; whether all the students should be assessed on all ofthe values or some should be compulsory and others optional. He further says that observation shall remain the main technique of evaluation of values. Such evaluation cannot be carried out at fixed times, rather it has to be continuous.

Enabling students to think critically is another aspect that forms an essential part of the teaching-learning process while facilitating value inculcation. Media resources can be best utilised for this purpose. Asking students to think critically about opinions, arguments and evidences, and detect bias and prejudice can facilitate students to have independent views about existing context of our society. But it is equally important for the teacher to facilitate critical reflections towards a direction

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