Philosophy of Value-Oriente Education - i
There is a need to clarify the term, value. Evidently the word ‘value’ is not to be taken in the sense in which it is used in Economics. The word ‘value’ as understood in the context of educational philosophy refers to those desirable ideals and goals which are intrinsic in themselves and which, when achieved or attempted to be achieved, evoke a deep sense of fulfillment to one or many or all parts of what we consider to be the highest elements of our nature. In a sense, it may be urged that the word ‘value’ is basically indefinable since it denotes a fundamental category and it is itself the highest genus of that category. At the same time, there is a common understanding as to what is meant when it is said that Truth, Beauty and Goodness are the supreme values of life. They are intrinsic in character and they are ends in themselves. They are considered to be the most desirable ideals and they occur to us whenever we try to conceive of those states of our being or becoming in which we are likely to find some kind of ultimate fulfillment.
All true education is fundamentally a process of training whereby the individual is enabled to embody, progressively, those values which we in our highest thought and aspiration come to regard as something most desirable.
If the human nature is analyzed, it is found that there are various energies in us which can be distinguishable under various categories, such as physical, emotional, mental, aesthetic, moral and spiritual. These energies are mostly latent in us and
only a part of them are actually active. Even the active part of our energies needs to be developed and directed towards their highest development and towards their highest point of fulfillment in their respective values. The task of education is not limited merely to the development of our active energies but also to bring out our latent capacities and lead them to their rightful goals and ideals.
The teacher should therefore have a sound knowledge of the psychology of man and should know the secrets of the principles underlying the development of both our active and latent capacities.
In the present system of education, we are too preoccupied with the mental development; and we give a preponderant importance to those qualities which are relevant to the present examination system. We are thus not giving so much of importance to the development of the powers of understanding as to the powers of memory. We do not emphasise the development of imagination as much as we emphasise the power of knowing facts. We do not give importance to the pursuit of Truth as much as to the pursuit of piecemeal assemblage of topics and subjects which are prescribed in the syllabus. Recently, attempts have been made to ameliorate this situation and some place is being given to physical education and aesthetic education. But the situation is far from satisfactory, and when we come to the domain of moral and spiritual values, the situation is confusing and it seems, a deeper exploration is required before we give to ourselves some definite idea as to what they mean and what place they can be given in our systems of education.
The situation in regard to moral and spiritual
values is complicated by the fact that there are today several powerful trends of thought in the light of which morality has come to be regarded as something relative and spirituality is being dismissed as some indefinable category of irrationalism. It is sometimes held that scientific method is the only door to knowledge, while morality and spirituality can at best be a kind of emotional response. It is, therefore, sometimes argued that what needs to be advanced in our educational system is scientific method and scientific knowledge and that each individual should be left to do what he likes in regard to his moral and spiritual tendencies. As against this, it is being increasingly felt that no education can be complete or even worthwhile if it does not provide to the individual not only the knowledge of the history of moral, religious and spiritual ideas which are a great part of the human heritage but also a non-dogmatic but disciplined process by which the individual is enabled to embody those values which seem to our human thought as indispensable to the survival of human race at the present critical juncture of human history and to the eventual development of a greater civilisation than we have had hitherto. It is, for instance, universally agreed that pursuit of peace is one of the most desirable things that we should encourage in education all over the world. Nobody seriously argues that peace is a value, which each individual should be left free to pursue or not to pursue and that it should have no place in our educational system. And, we may note that pursuit of peace implies the pursuit of a number of interrelated values such as unity, harmony, mutuality, friendship, faithfulness and sincerity. As a matter of fact, there is in the realm of values an intimate interrelatedness, and once we admit
any given value, we are perforce led to admit the entire range of values.
Nonetheless, it must be admitted that it is not easy to settle the question as to what precisely is the relationship between the realm of values and the realm of knowledge, how precisely pursuit of science and pursuit of values should be related to each other, and how precisely we should encourage the pursuit of values in our system of education. There are, however, some guidelines that we can derive from the contemporary educational thought and from some of the great educational experiments conducted in India or elsewhere.
In the domain of physical education, the values that we ought to seek are those of health, strength, plasticity, grace and beauty. In the domain of emotional education, the values that we ought to seek would be those of harmony and friendliness, of courage and heroism, of endurance and perseverance and of irresistible will to conquer the forces of ignorance, division and injustice. In the domain of the mental development, the values that we ought to seek would be those of utmost impartiality, dispassionate search for the Truth, Calm and Silence, and widest possible synthesis. The values pertaining to the aesthetic development would be those of the vision of the Beauty and creative joy of the deepest possible aesthetic experience and expression.
Values that we should seek in the moral and spiritual domain are those of sincerity, faithfulness, obedience to whatever one conceives to be the highest, gratitude, honesty, benevolence, generosity, cheerfulness, selflessness, freedom from egoism,
equality in joy and suffering, in honour and dishonour, in success and failure, pursuit of the deepest and the highest, of the absolute and ultimate and progressive expression of this pursuit in thought, feeling and action.
It would be observed that the pursuit of the above mentioned values is not intrinsically related to any particular moral or religious doctrine or any particular spiritual discipline. One can pursue these values as something intrinsic and as ends in themselves, irrespective of whether one holds any particular doctrine of ethics, religion or spirituality. Whether one belongs to one religion or the other or to no religion one can pursue these values devotedly and zealously. This point is extremely important in the context of the Indian situation where there are a number of religions, including atheistic religions, and where there are people of no religion. This is again important in the context of the fact that our Constitution clearly states that “No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of the State Fund” and that “No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State or receiving aid out of State fund shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institution or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institution or in any premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto.”
A question is often raised as to whether there is any valid distinction between moral and spiritual values. In answer, it may be said that much depends upon what we intend to include in our definition of the word ‘morality’ or in the word ‘spirituality’. In Indian
thought, the distinction between morality and spirituality has been clearly made and we have two definite terms, naitika and adhyatmika, having their specific and distinguishing connotations. The word ‘morality’ connotes a pursuit of the control and mastery over impulses and desires under the guidance and supervening inspiration of a standard of conduct formulated or in consideration of man’s station and duties in the society or in consideration of any discovered or prescribed intrinsic law of an ideal. Morality is often conceived as a preparation for spirituality. Spirituality, on the other hand, begins when one seeks whatever one conceives to be the ultimate and absolute for its own sake, unconditionally and without any reserve whatsoever. Moreover, while morality is often limited to the domain of duties, spirituality is fundamentally a search of the knowledge (sakshatkara) of the highest and the absolute by direct experience and manifestation of this search in every mode of living, thinking and acting.
What is called religious, and what in Indian terminology is termed as dharmik is clearly distinguishable from the moral and the spiritual. The differentia by which religion can be distinguished from morality and spirituality are:
Both moral and spiritual values, particularly those which are enumerated above, can be practised
irrespective of whether one believes in one religion or another or whether one believes in no religion. Both morality and spirituality can be independent of rituals and ceremonies and of any acts specifically prescribed by any particular religion. And both of them are independent of any authority except that of one’s own free and direct experience.
It is thus clear that education in moral and spiritual values is quite distinct from ‘religious instruction’. What is required is instruction and training in the entire realm of values – physical, emotional, intellectual, imaginative, aesthetic, moral and spiritual, which can be pursued by any individual irrespective of whether he accepts any religion or no religion.
In addition to the values which are enumerated above, the value-orientation in education must also include, specifically, those values which are being promoted by UNESCO of which India is a Member-State. This would mean that our educational system should encourage the value of world peace, international understanding, and unity of mankind. UNESCO has also put forward through a comprehensive ideal and value, namely, “to be”. This ideal has been highlighted in the Report of the International Commission on the development of education, which was constituted by UNESCO in 1971. While explaining the ideal of “to be”, M. Edgar Faure, the Chairman of the Commission, stated that one of the underlying assumptions of the Report is “that the aim of development is the complete fulfillment of man, in all the richness of his personality, the complexity of his forms of expression and his various commitments"1
1. Learning to be, 1979, Paris, p – vi.
The ideal of “to be” is distinct from the ideal of “to acquire” and “to possess”. The ideal of “to be” refers to that direction of effort which leads individual to look deeply within himself and to find in his inner being the source of his varied potentialities, and the source of a fulfillment in some kind of perfection that transcends egoism and which rests in a vast and integrated self-hood.
It is pertinent to note that the Indian educational thought has constantly emphasised the value of wholeness of integrality and comprehensiveness. In Indian thought, a distinction has been made between the ego and the self, between aham-bhava and Atman. According to the Indian thought, whereas egoistic personality is ridden with self-contradictions and internal conflicts, the true self or the true individual is the integrating centre in which varied personalities are harmonised. Integrated personality is thus a recognised ideal that the Indian educational thought has held out as one of the supreme spiritual values. In its fullness the idea of integrated personality connotes the perfection of a fourfold personality that harmonises wisdom, power, love and skill in works. It is therefore recommended that the pursuit of this fullness of integrated personality may be regarded as one of the highest values which should be pursued in our educational system.
There are, indeed, certain other values which are uniquely Indian, in the sense that even though these values may be shared by India in common with other countries, they are pursued in India either with a certain special zeal and dedication or pursued with a certain speciality or completeness. For example, the
value that we attach to the ideal of tolerance is something special in India. In fact, the word tolerance itself is not adequate to convey the intended meaning. In the ordinary idea of tolerance, there is still a feeling that our own preferred idea is somewhat superior to the other contending ideas. On the other hand, what is peculiarly Indian is the sentiment and the recognition that various principal contending ideas are all equally legitimate ideas and that superiority lies not in holding one idea as some preferred idea but in trying to find such a synthesis that each idea finds its own highest fulfillment in it. What is uniquely Indian is that the value and ideal of synthesis has been pursued throughout the long history of Indian culture as a most desirable goal – and that too repeatedly and with a very special insistence. Therefore, a special emphasis should be laid in all our learning process towards the seeking of synthesis not only as an ideal of intellectual development but also as a cherished ideal of Indian culture.
Along with the basic idea of synthesis, there is also the accompanying idea of unity, mutuality and oneness in diversity. That in spite of there being varying centrifugal forces, there are also supervening, powerful and harmonising centripetal forces operating in the Indian life and that the Indian culture finds its deepest fulfillment not in any exclusive denial but in comprehensive affirmation (or in denial of all denials) need a special emphasis. And our education should be so reoriented as to give a pre-eminent place to the pursuit of the culture of unity in diversity.
Similarly, what is meant by secularism in the Indian context is uniquely Indian. According to the
Western idea, secularism means a tendency or a system of beliefs which rejects all forms of religious faith or worship. It means something that pertains to the present world or to things which are not spiritual or sacred. In the Indian context, however, secularism means comprehensiveness in which all religions receive equal protection, treatment and respect, and in which there is place for everyone whether he belongs to one religion or another or to no religion. Again Indian secularism encourages us to approach everything, whether material or spiritual, with a sense of sacredness. In Indian secularism there is freedom for the propagation of each religion without hindrance or bar and there is also the freedom to promote and propagate synthesis of religions. At the same time, Indian secularism insists on the promotion of moral and spiritual values which are common to all religions and to no religion as also on the promotion of a synthesis of science and spirituality. Secularism so defined and understood is thus a very special value that is uniquely Indian.
There are several other Indian values which require a special mention and which should find their right place in our educational system. The sense of joy that is behind various festivals in India which are shared by people of the country is something which can be understood only when one enters into the heart and soul of Indian culture. The Indian idea of the rhythm of life and the law of harmony, expressed by the word “Dharma” is also uniquely Indian. The place that India has given to womanhood and to motherhood, in particular, is again something very unique to India, and which cannot be explained in terms which are
current in the world. Again, the value that we attach to the pursuit of knowledge, to the pursuit of purity, to the pursuit of wisdom is something unique, in the sense that these things are valued most and they are cherished most, and on the call of which we are inspired to renounce everything. All these and many other values which are uniquely Indian should be encouraged and fostered.
There are indeed certain elements which are Indian, which are basically contradictory of the true Indian spirit, such as casteism, regionalism and fanaticism. These have, of course, to be rejected, and they should find no place in our educational system. India has always opposed ignorance and division. This has been India’s dominant theme, and even today, our Indian system of education must declare itself opposed to anything that produces ignorance, superstition and division.
It is noteworthy that the great Indian values, some of which have been mentioned above, became dynamically vibrant during the period of India’s struggle for freedom. In fact, this period was marked by the rise of great men and women who embodied these values and enriched them. Again, it was during this period that these values guided and shaped great movements and events. Thus a study of our nationalist movement provides a perennial source of inspiration, and a special emphasis should be laid on this study in our educational system, particularly, in the programmes related to the training of teachers.
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