ROTARY CLUB OF COIMBATORE TEXCITY
DESABHAKTA SOCIETY OF COIMBATORE
Address Delivered At
TEACHERS INDIA 2000
By KIREET JOSHI
"HOW TO MAKE EDUCATION VALUE-ORIENTED?"
8th November, 1997
PSG INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES AUDITORIUM, PSG MEDICAL COLLEGE, PEELAMEDUM, COIMBATORE
It is a matter of privilege and happiness to have an opportunity to meet teachers who are gathered here to prepare themselves for India 2000. Indeed, teachers are the makers of tomorrow, but the prerogatives of the makers carry with themselves corresponding responsibilities.
It is refreshing that your Agenda has spelt out some of the root questions like what is education and also some of the fundamental issues which must be confronted boldly and squarely, if we are to prepare for India a happier and a brighter 2000. Among these important issues, the most important is related to value-education. The question that has been formulated for our consideration is: how to make education value-oriented?
In fact, education rightly defined is automatically value-oriented. Value education is the very definition of education; for the ultimate justification and the very process of education consists in transmuting impulses, emotions and thoughts into higher modes of culture. Both in theory and practice, education must bear this fundamental imprint. It is because education has ceased to be education, it is because education has gradually become a prison house of various kinds of walls of artificiality, of mechanisation, of de-personalisation, that we feel offended by the whole structure of education and we are now wondering how we can make this house of education to blossom into a garden of values.
At the deepest level, the answer to the question that we have raised is that the entire system of education needs to be thoroughly transformed. It is not as though we have to add a new dimension of values to the present system of education by some kind of grafting; what is needed is to touch the very centre of education, touch its very kernel, and irrigate it with fresh water so that in all its sinews, vessels and organs, values bloom and flow with all the life-giving fragrance. This is the programme that we need to put before ourselves.
But, practically, how should we go about this task?
We had recently a Conference in Delhi which was organised by the Desabhakta Trust in collaboration, with the Dharam Hinduja International Centre of Indic Research. After due deliberations it has chalked out a minimum programme and has presented to the country a “National Agenda for Education". It has made an appeal to the people not to leave the subject of education in the hands merely of bureaucracy or governmental machinery but to involve themselves in initiating and aiding through various programmes and activities, so that, first, education gains top priority, secondly, the child and the youth are declared to be the sovereigns of the country's concerns, and, third the entire society is constantly inspired to turn itself into a learning society. This Agenda declares that the crisis through which our country is passing today is the crisis of character, and it cannot be met without radical change in the objectives, contents and methods of education, so as to place character development at the centre of our educational endeavour. It further adds that there should be holistic approach to character development and all aspects of personality, — physical, vital, intellectual, aesthetic, ethical, and spiritual, — should be emphasised. The entire Agenda is value-oriented and advocates reiteration of objectives of education that underline value-oriented integral development of personality, synthesis of science and values, promotion of national integration and international understanding and peace.
These objectives are often repeated and they sound so charming even in the speeches of those who give them as a kind of lip-service. What is needed, however, is that these objectives are not only to be announced but they should be made vibrantly alive to the contents and methods of education. If Macaulayan system of education which aimed at producing clerks is to be redesigned so as to fulfil the dream of Swami Vivekananda of man-making education”, we need to involve everyone connected with education, — and teachers most prominently, — and everyone has to take a pledge to understand his/her own role in education and to fulfil it honestly and sincerely.
It is often argued that unless the system is first changed, nobody can fulfil his/her role in education. This is a sweeping statement and it can be reasonably argued that no system can be changed unless the consciousness of all concerned is first changed. Therefore, even while working for the change of the system, — and for the total change of the system, let us begin to work upon ourselves, and we shall find that even in the present circumstances, even in the conditions that obtain today, each one can contribute quite a great deal.
The first practical thing, — and I use the word "practical” deliberately — is that teachers must consent to be ready to work upon themselves to develop the right attitudes, to perform their work and their tasks with the sense of dedication and to devote themselves to the service of the children whom they happen to be the real trustees. The emphasis on education for character development, for value-orientation, for transforming education and to value-education, — imposes on the teachers a very special responsibility. As character can best be imparted by the living example of the teacher, a high standard of ethos must become an indispensable part of the teaching profession. Considering that the teacher is the bridge between the past and the future, and carrier of cultural heritage from generation to generation, it must be expected from every teacher to become a perpetual student of the lessons of history and of the quest of the knowledge by the aid of which brighter future can be built.
We speak today of the child-centred education, but only the teacher can give concrete shape to this concept. For it is only the teacher who can introduce dynamic methods which would place the child in the centre of the learning process.
At the same time, corresponding to higher demands which must be made on teachers, the society has to ensure that the career graphs of teachers should be greatly revised and congenial conditions are created for teachers so that standards are equivalent to those or high quality of life.
The role of the teacher must be supplemented by the role of the students, of the parents, of the educational adminsitrators.
But all this is only the first step, although an extremely important step. This will create a favourable climate for a greater change in the educational system. The next step is to bring into prominence those aspects of education which contribute greatly to value education but which have remained neglected or have been given only a peripheral place in the present system. It is here that we need to underline the role of art in education. The first aim of art education is purely aesthetic, the second is intellectual and the third and the highest is spiritual. Music, art, and poetry may be viewed as a perfect education for the soul. They are, when properly used, great educating, edifying and civilising forces.
We have to ensure that every child with artistic talents gets right encouragement to develop his/her talents and to express them. We have also to ensure that every child is helped to understand and appreciate the uplifting role of art. The same rule should apply in respect of the development of skills instead of different crafts.
Physical education is another domain which continues to be neglected in our present system. We must underline that some of the best qualities of character can be developed through physical education, particularly those of sportsmanship, team spirit, practice of fair play, acceptance of success and failure with grace and equanimity. Therefore, physical education should be so designed that these qualities and virtues get right nourishment and encouragement.
Along with physical education, we must provide opportunities for the development of the national spirit of discipline. Scouts and guide
movements as also NCC and NSS should not be allowed to remain in the periphery. Students should be offered the possibility of participating in one or more of these channels. We must also make them utilisable for the requirements of national defence.
Vocational education should also be looked upon as an essential part of character development. No personality is complete without the development of skills for which vocational education provides ready means. Our system of education should be so redesigned that every student should have the possibility of at least two years training in the skills suitable to a chosen vocation prior to any terminal point in the system of education, — particularly prior to the end of elementary education.
All these measures may be looked upon as the second step.
We may now come to the third step, and here we are bound to recommend certain radical measures:
(a) first of all our contents of education need to be greatly revised, and in this revision we have to provide for a core programme of what may be called “man-making education" of value education. This core programme of value education should have an intellectual dimension, ethical dimension, and aesthetic dimension. These three dimension should also be related to overarching and every- comprehensive umbrella of spiritual education where the values of inner life and universality and oneness are emphasised, both in theory and practice. In order that this core programme get easily interwoven with various branches of studies, teaching-learning materials should be so prepared that illustrations are taken, preferably in the form of stories, plays or poems relating to the domains of language in literature, history and geography, science and mathematics and of other domains from where vastness of universe gets related harmoniously with human life and with life in general. Great values like the ideals of truth, self-control, self- knowledge, heroism, sincerity, honesty, endurance, faithfulness, and the rest best can be communicated through appropriate stories or great passages of literature. Parables from various religious and secular literature and biographical and legendary stories can also be utilised in this connection.
We need to prepare literature that can give inspiring accounts of great leaders of rational thought, aesthetic domain, morality and spirituality.
(b) An another aspect of this core programme should be related to exercise of observation of nature so that students are encouraged to develop qualities of impartiality in observation. But the most important aspect of this core programme could be related to the exercises of introspection. This may be regarded as the psychological domain of value education. The important point is that value education should not be reduced to the teachings of dos and don'ts. Such a teaching, is counter-productive, and students who are bred under the regimen of dos and don'ts develop secret revolts against moral and spiritual values. It is through psychological means and through development of human and humane qualities that one is inspired to grow into a proper state of values which are distinctly related to one's own inner nature, swabhava, and one's own law of development, swadharma.
(c) Psychology of thought, will and emotion, psychology of cognition, affection and conation will open up the understanding of higher states of consciousness such as those of quietude, tranquillity, calm, silence, equanimity, compassion, and perfect detachment as also of perfection in works, karmasu kaushalam.
(d) No programme of value education can be complete without relating the lessons of science and the relationship with values. One of the present need of our times is to harmonise science and values, science and ethics, science and aesthetics and science and spirituality. Science of the body and science of matter, science of life and science and art of life, science of mind, and science of the unity of mind and heart, — all these have a direct connection with the rhythm of values which are connected with our physical life, emotional life and mental life. The scientific theme of evolution has also a message for the development of the human personality. If evolution is a fact, human being is also both a product of evolution and leader of further evolution. Questions as to how evolution can be engineered in such a way that better human beings can be designed and even mutation of human species can be conceived and effectuated. In fact, there is a direct relationship between evolution and Yoga, since, as Swami Vivekananda pointed out that Yoga is nothing but an accelerated and conscious process of evolution. This will bring about a revolutionary change in our concept of value education and make value education a subject of profoundest importance in the minds of students and of society in general.
(e) As a matter fact, value education and holistic vision of the universe are closely related. But greater the universality of vision, the greater will be intensity of pursuit of values. Therefore, value education programme should underline not only the perception but also the experience of universality and even of cosmic consciousness, and still higher levels of consciousness.
(f) Finally, value education should provide for the understanding of the ideal of perfection. Perfection can be conceived both as a maximum state of excellence as also a continuous process of balance and harmony of all aspects of personality. The real perfection comes about when excellence of knowledge, works and love are integrated. It is at this point that education for personality development becomes identical with the value education. It is here that one begins to bring home the students and teachers the knowledge and practice of the science and art of self-education.
(g) Close connected with the proposal of the core programme is the problem of the load of curriculum on students. The present load itself is so heavy that any proposal to bring about a further increase in the curriculum is bound to be resisted, and quite rightly. But the fact is that we are here speaking not of increase of a new programme but of redesigning the whole programme in such a way that the centrality of value education is ensured. This redesigning will imply pruning a large of number of topics and subjects which have become outdated and obsolete. It would also imply that many areas which are made compulsory today will be made optional. It will also imply that children's talents and interests will be so respected that they will be encouraged to pursue those subjects in which they have natural talent genius. It would also mean that the stuffing of the human mind with snippets of information will be eliminated. Instead of mere information, knowledge will be encouraged, instead of mere knowledge, wisdom will be encouraged. In order that this recommendation is properly implemented, we need to create a body of educationists who would look at the present curriculum with fresh eyes, with fresh objectives and with fresh concerns. It may be argued that this would mean a great upsetting of the present situation. But we may answer that a radical change will certainly imply some upsetting, but the wisdom of the reformer will lie in the fact that they will carry out changes in such a way that the transition is smooth and the strategies are so worked out that students' careers are not in any way adversely affected. In ultimate analysis, unless we are prepared for great changes, we cannot hope to make our education value oriented. We may now come to the last question, and this is directly related to the creation of the right atmosphere in educational institutions and to the study of practice of great values that have been special concern of Indian culture.
(h) As we all know, our noble, great and ancient culture is being invaded today by increasing tides of currents which are spreading from foreign countries. It is not that we shut ourselves in a shell and allow ourselves to be narrowed down to our small domains of life. On the contrary, we should be able to receive the winds from all sides and assimilate all that is helpful. For example, Western culture is today striving for the realisation of the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. This striving has a great message for us, and if we can receive it rightly, our individual and collective life can be rejuvenated. The Western mind advocates original thought, critical thought and scientific thought; if we are to develop originality, criticality and scientific spirit, we shall be able to recover and re-fashion our own national intellectual, moral and spiritual resources and capacities. There are also currents of creativity, prosperity and unity which are drawing upon us from the West. These elements also are very helpful, and if we can receive them in the right context, and in the right spirit, they will contribute to the re-invigoration of our own sinuous of energy and enterprise.
But these great things are mixed with ideas and forces of economic barbarism, vulgar sensuality, and unacceptable life style that affect our sense of sacredness of human relationships. Indian culture has always honoured the spirit of sacrifice rather than of consumption; it has always counselled us to choose the good rather than the pleasant, to choose shreyas rather than preyas; Indian culture has always put before us the ideal of liberation from egoism rather than that of worship of selfish self-centredness and narrow competitiveness in self-assertion. We are, therefore, called upon to become vigilant so that these adverse tendencies do not get entrance into thought and life of our people and weaken our moral and our sense of self-identity. Indeed, our sense of self- identity is not inconsistent with universality. To become citizens of the world should be our goal, but to honour own heritage, to practice our own great ideals which are themselves conducive to universality should not be allowed to ruin or sacrifice.
For this purpose, we need to devise the study of Indian culture in our schools and colleges in such an effective manner that the lessons of Indian culture are not only learned intellectuality merely on school benches but they are learnt even vitally, emotionally, concretely and by method of practice, by the methods of concrete internalisation, and by methods of state of tests on the anvil of life.
This is the most difficult task, but if we want to make our education value oriented this has to be accomplished. How far and how soon this can be done will depend upon our teachers. And for this reason, we need to make an earnest appeal to the teachers.