Philosophy of value-oriented education– iii
(Issue of “FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES”)
We are passing through a critical stage of a battle between the best possibilities and the worst possibilities. At a time when forces of unity and harmony can triumph and science and technology can be used to abolish poverty and deprivation, precisely at that time, the forces of violence and gravitational pulls of impulses of the lower human nature are pressing forward on a global scale. Rationality, in which humanity has placed great trust for arriving at the fulfillment of its ideals of true knowledge and comprehensive knowledge, appears to be overtaken by the forces of Unreason. It has, therefore, become imperative to explore deeper and higher dimensions of human resources by means of which we can successfully work for the victory of the ideal dreams, which have inspired the onward march of civilisation.
It is in this context that the theme of education for character development has emerged with some imperative force. And our eyes have turned to the dimensions of values, the dimensions of will-power and the dimensions of cultural, ethical and spiritual potentialities. These dimensions have not yet been sufficiently explored, but we have begun to uncover what lies in our present framework that would meet our urgent need to uplift ourselves and the coming generations.
In India, our constitution has been wisely prefaced with the ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity in its very Preamble. It has guaranteed
certain basic fundamental rights and it has given a chapter on Directive Principles of the State Policy, which although not legally enforceable, embodies ideals and values, which are salutary for the progress of India on the lines which had come to be articulated and cherished during the Freedom Struggle.
In 1976, realising that apart from Rights, there is a need to emphasise responsibilities, obligations and duties of the citizens Article 51A was inserted to lay down certain fundamental duties. It is to that Article that we have recently turned our focal attention, with the hope that its operationalisation in the field of education would bring about a new climate of recovery of forces that can re-generate national ethos, unity and integrity.
Government of India did well, therefore, in appointing a high level committee, in July 1998, to operationalise suggestions to teach fundamental duties to the citizens of the country. This Committee was chaired by Mr. Justice J.S. Verma, the former Chief Justice of India, and it submitted its final Report to the Minister of Human Resource Development on 31st October, 1999.
The Verma Committee has done well to highlight the work which has been done by the International Interaction Council in drafting a Declaration of Human Responsibilities.
This Council had a preliminary meeting in Vienna, Austria in March 1996, April 1997, and the Plenary Session was held in Noordwijk, Netherlands, in June 1997. On 1st September 1997, the Inter-Action Council proposed a universal declaration of human responsibilities, just one year before the 50th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations. A number of former prime ministers, former presidents, and leading personalities in the fields of thought and practical action have endorsed this draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities. The basic point that has been made by the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities is that the concept of human obligations serves to balance the notions of freedom and responsibilities. Without a proper balance, unrestricted freedom is as dangerous as imposed social responsibilities. It declares, in effect, that if we have a right to life then we have the obligation to respect life; and if we have right to liberty, then we have the obligation to respect other peoples’ liberty too. In other words, the golden rule of responsibility is that we do not do to others what we do not wish to be done to us; or that we should do unto others as we would have them to do unto us.
This draft declaration reaffirms that the time has come to talk about responsibilities, about obligations. It also shows that the action taken by the Government of India to set up a Committee of Teaching Fundamental Duties was timely and that while we have talked for decades of value education, the time has come to take decisive action in implementing the programmes of value education.
Let us recall that various commissions and committees of the Government of India have underlined the importance of value education and important recommendations have been made to distinguish morality and spirituality from religious creeds, so that imparting of moral and spiritual values
does not come within the purview of the prohibition that is laid down in the Constitution to impart religious education in educational institutions that are financially supported by the Government. Dr. Radhakrishnan had made a distinction between a religious education and education about religions and advocated that there is no constitutional disability in imparting education about religions in our educational system. The Sriprakasa Committee had advocated moral, emotional and cultural education as understood in their widest connotations. The Kothari Commission recommended value-education that is in coherence with the development of science and scientific temper. The National Education Policy, 1986, devoted one full section to value education.
Unfortunately, our curricula, by and large, have changed little or only marginally. The main difficulty has been that there has been a long drawn out debate on what values should be promoted and what place should be given to the study of religions, which are closely connected with value systems. In answer to this debate, there is one thing which is very clear, and that is, the Fundamental Duties, which have been listed in the Constitution, which re-presents national consensus and which has some kind of binding force.
The Fundamental Duties include, first and foremost, the obligation on the part of the citizens to abide by the Constitution and to respect its ideals and institutions. In large terms, this would mean obligation to secure justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as also the values that are embedded in the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of the State Policy. In declaring that these duties will include the
obligation to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom, we have a wide spectrum of values, spiritual, moral, economic, social and political. Again, in laying down the obligations to value and preservation of the rich heritage of our composite culture, the Constitution has stressed the wide range of values that have come to be cherished right from the times of the Veda to the present day, which has played a role toward assimilation and synthesis. Again, in laying down the duties to develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform, the emphasis has been laid on the value of truth, knowledge and freedom from dogmatism and obscurantism – all that is valuable in modernism. In requiring everyone to protect and improve the natural environment and in renouncing practices that are derogatory to the dignity of women and in developing compassion for living creatures, some of the most pressing problems of contemporary times in the fields of environment and empowerment of women has been taken into account. Finally, by insisting on striving towards excellence in all the spheres of individual and collective activity, a great ideal has been stressed in respect of the perfectibility of the individual and the society and their harmonious relationships.
This is not an occasion to bring out the implications of these duties and salutary effects that the operationalisation of duties in the field of education could bring about. It must be said, however, that this operationalisation should be regarded as a good beginning in the right direction, although the highest goals of man-making education of which Swami Vivekananda spoke will imply a still greater effort and
we should not lose sight of this higher goal and the need for still greater efforts.
There is a dimension of values, which transcends the dimension of duties. That dimension is the spontaneous perception and commitment to ends-in-themselves. If I love a friend only as a matter of duty, it is, in a sense, not as valuable as I do so out of my spontaneous appreciation and admiration for him and for his achievements and qualities. Love for my own country as a duty is inferior to the love of a patriot that arises spontaneously in his heart and soul, as he looks upon his country as the very source of his breath and life. Search for truth is an end in itself; search for goodness is an end itself, search for beauty is an end itself; and they have to be encouraged not as duties but as irresistible demands of our being as we begin to uncover deeper and higher depths of our selves, which transcend the limitations of egoism.
Self-knowledge and self-control are the true foundations of value education. As Socrates had pointed out, virtue is knowledge, and it is when knowledge is rightly pursued, that pursuit of virtue attains its right place as a spontaneous action and it has lustre brighter than that obtains in performance of our duty.
These reflections have two important consequences in our formulations of value-oriented education. Firstly, value-oriented education does not merely remain a matter of do’s and don’ts; it becomes a process of exploration, and it crosses the border of constraints that are felt in the performance of duties and leads us into a realm of freedom of which discipline for performance of duty is a happy product. Secondly, value- oriented education opens before us the gates
the harmony between truth, beauty and goodness, which impart to us the sources of true humanism and even our true godliness.
It is necessary to bring out, even though briefly, these important dimensions of value- oriented education, since it will help us better to prepare our curriculum of value- oriented education in its wider aspects, and also to prepare corresponding programmes of teacher-education.
The role of the teacher in education is irreplaceable, and unless the teachers’ programmes or training are conceived in the light of the full implications of value- oriented education, we shall not be able to equip the teachers with the right inspiration and with the required tools. If value-oriented education has suffered so far, it is because teachers’ training programmes fall short in many ways of an ideal system. We require redesigning of programmes of teachers’ education, both pre-service and in-service; in a certain sense, we need to overhaul our entire system of teacher-education, keeping in view that value-oriented education is absolutely imperative and unless a good teacher is himself value-oriented, we cannot fulfill the objectives of value-oriented education.
We have to realise that methods of value-oriented education have to be different from those, which are required in respect of many other subjects. The reason is that in value-oriented education what we need is not merely the cultivation of cognitive faculties but also affective and conative faculties. One cannot merely give lectures on values and expect to fulfill the objectives. Just as swimming cannot be taught merely by lecturing, but by leading the learner to jump into
the water and help him in the practical art of swimming in the midst of water, similarly, value-oriented education requires of the teacher the ability to inspire the students to enter into the waters of life-situations and give him practical abilities and art of practicing values in concrete situations of life. In a sense, it may be said that valueioriented education is perhaps the most difficult domain among all domains of education.
Without going into details, it may be said that we need to undertake a three-pronged exercise in the teacher education programmes:
Firstly, our programmes must be so inspiring that teachers come to look upon the task of teaching as sacred;
Secondly, the curriculum of teachers’ training programme should have the component of the theory of value-oriented education, both in terms of the foundations of Fundamental Duties and of the values, which lie beyond the domain of duties; and it should have also a component of practical art of the practice of exploration of values in life-situations.
And thirdly, the duration that is normally assigned to teacher education programmes should be sufficiently enlarged. A most salutary combination would be to propose an integrated programme of teacher education of the duration of four or five years on the completion of class XII, leading to a qualification equivalent to post-graduation. That has also consequences for career development and other aspects relevant to the structure and framework of teaching profession. But this is an aspect, which needs to be looked into separately.
In any programme of education for value-
orientation or for character development, we need to ask three important questions. Firstly, we have to determine with greater precision what we mean by character and how the development of character can be stimulated and nourished through the processes of communication and information, cultivation of faculties, and the methods by which the states of consciousness, which express themselves in virtues can be stabilised. For character development is concerned with what may be called being or the central core of the individuality, which tends to grow into universality and sovereignty of transcendence. Indeed, the concepts of individuality, universality and transcendence can be communicated to some extent in the form of information which relates to the history of these concepts and how these concepts have been interpreted by different thinkers, scholars and practitioners and how they have been applied in life and in the development of civilisations and cultures. Indeed, this information can kindle the inner urge of the individual to grow inwardly and to fashion the processes of learning, which can properly be called the processes of learning to be. But still, the part played by communication of information in the development of character is only peripheral or of primary importance and not of chief importance.
A greater part is played in the character development by the development or cultivation of faculties and if we study numerous faculties that human personality comes to posses, we shall find that they relate to four main groups namely, (1) those which pertain to understanding, comprehension, synthesis, universality, knowledge and wisdom; (2) those that relate to will-power, fearlessness, courage, heroism,
control, mastery, power and strength; (3) those that relate to imagination, sensibility, emotional refinement, harmony in relationships, friendship, co-operation, loyalty, allegiance, and unfailing love, and (4) those that pertain to skills of expressions, patience, perseverance, endurance, love for precision, and detailed execution of command, order, system and search for perfection. Unfortunately, in our curricular framework preponderant emphasis is laid upon communication of information, but no deliberate attempt is made to the task of stimulating the cultivation of faculties; and yet, if faculties develop among our students, they do so because faculties have an inborn stress in themselves to push forward their developments. But a more rational and careful curriculum should provide guidelines, occasions and exercises by which faculties can be cultivated consciously and systematically.
But of even greater importance in character development is the role-played by development of attitudes and states of consciousness. The depth of seriousness, which accompanies the process of search or quest, will determine the quality of search or quest and its eventual success. And the states of seriousness result from the cultivation of sincerity. If we examine closely, we shall find that what we call virtues are basically manifestations of certain states of consciousness; it is virtues that constitute character; and the stability of character depends upon the stabilisation of those states of consciousness which constitute virtues. How to develop, therefore, virtuous states of consciousness and how to stabilize them should constitute a major constituent of education for character development.
Closely connected with this first set of questions is the second set of questions which relate to the aim of life. The moment we raise the question of aim of life, we begin to address ourselves to something that is central in our being, in our potentialities and in what we can become and can be fulfilled. No great character can be built where the aim of life remains a matter of doubt or tends to be neglected or retained for consideration or amusement in our hours of idleness or superficial leisure. Indeed, the theme of the aim of life should become a theme of exploration, and during the process of exploration one has to pass through periods of doubts, periods of long reflection, periods of experimentation and even of uncertainty. Educational process should provide both time and scope for this kind of exploration and every student should be provided with enough material in respect of this theme. Indeed, no prefixed aim of life should be proposed and no indoctrination or dogmatic assertions should be thrust upon the mind and heart of the student. But the educational process should allow each student a process of exploration, experimentation and reflection as a result of which a mature decision is arrived at as to what aim of life one should pursue. It will then be seen that the quality of life and the quality of character reflect the quality of aim of life that one determines to realise.
Finally, there is a third set of questions, which are also relevant to the development of character. These questions relate to the ways and means by which students become conscious of the methods of learning and methods by which character can be developed. In other words, character development has to become a conscious process, a deliberate process, voluntary
process. Students have to become conscious of the psychological complexities and how the tangles of instincts, desires, emotions, will-force, powers of thought, and imagination and the powers of aesthetic, ethical and spiritual consciousness can be understood, disentangled and yet controlled, mastered and harmonised. This perhaps is the most important part of education for character development. Here we have to focus upon the process by which students can gradually become conscious of their inner being, of their potentialities, of their own character so that students can take upon themselves the task of fashioning and perfecting what is best in them.
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