A REVISES AND ENLARGED VERSION OF THE KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE SEMINAR ON “VALUE-EDUCATION AND PRIMACY OF THE GIRL-CHILD” ORGANISED BY THE RASHTRIYA JAGRITI SANSTHAN ON 29.9.1997 AT THE PARLIAMENT HOUSE ANNEXE, NEW DELHI.
Value education is not only urgent but it is also imperative. In fact, value education is overdue, and we feel that appropriate measures should have been taken much earlier, soon after the attainment of independence. The degree to which Indian polity and social life has degenerated could have been mitigated or even prevented if we had taken due note of the educational visions that were given to us during the freedom struggle. Unfortunately, we lost sight of the right direction, and even when facilities or opportunities for education were expanded, we could not provide value-orientation to educational system. Not only did we fail in responding to the great messages given by great educationists like Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindra Nath Tagore and Sri Aurobindo, we could not even initiate minimum education reforms that were proposed by the Radhakrishan Commission and the Kothari Commission which had pleaded for incorporation of a profound value system that took care of plurality of religions that obtains in our country and science-based civilisation that is spreading all over the world. We have remained stuck to the Macaulayan model of education, and shown great timidity by refraining from proposing any radical changes that would have contributed to the shaping of a true national system of education and to the shaping of the young people into courageous builders of the future. The programme that should have been initiated in 1947, has not yet been even crystallised clearly and even today our thinking on value education and the corresponding educational reforms remain wrapped in superficial and controversial ideas and ideologies which prevent speedy envisagement and implementation of value education.
The first layer of these disabling ideas betrays the cynical attitude which declares that value education is impossible when the society itself is drenched in increasing vice, violence and corruption. And since this argument supports status quo, people have a natural tendency to succumb to it without realising that cynicism, if not broken at its earlier stages, leads ultimately to disintegration and abysmal collapse. It is only when the vicious circle is broken, appropriately bold steps are taken, that we can survive and eventually arrive at fulfillment. There is no way to change the social collapse except by resurrecting education and, that too, value-oriented education.
The second layer of superficial ideas that prevent any successful experimentation in value education is that of the half-truth that values cannot be taught. This is a half-truth because basically nothing can be taught, that life itself is a great teacher of life and that to attempt to substitute life by any other artificial methods is never ultimately effective. But we do not take care to realise that education itself can be so designed that it bears within itself the stamp and flow of life-force, a kind of education that was already attempted to be designed by Rabindra Nath Tagore when he established Shanti Niketan, or when a new educational invention was initiated by Sri Aurobindo under his inspiring idea that all life is Yoga. The real truth of education is that it is a deliberate attempt to understand life, to employ all the principles and methods of life in the processes that accelerate human progression, not by mechanisation but by enhancing the pulsation of life-force itself. In the light of that concept, everything can be taught and values, too, can be taught, — not indeed, by mechanical means but by the creation of atmosphere and environment and by employment of methods which are conducive to the natural processes of growth of each individual. Values can be taught, provided we do not make value education a process of prescriptions of Do's and Don'ts, provided that we do not employ the outdated methods of lecturing and book-oriented and memory-oriented examination system. Just as swimming cannot be taught by lecturing, even so values cannot be taught by lecturing. Long ago, Socrates had taught us that virtue is knowledge and both virtue and knowledge can be awakened by a process of heart-searching dialogues initiated and conducted by the teacher whose very life is virtuous and luminous and which is deeply committed to the upliftment of the pupils and the society.
But then we come to the third range of arguments where it is suggested that it is impossible to have teachers imbued with high character and capable of engaging students and society in heart-searching dialogues. Here, again, there is some truth in the contention. It is not an easy task to create a band of teachers who can really inspire idealism by the power of their own character; but is it, then, we may ask, a truly impossible task? Is it not possible to conceive a programme of teacher education so that we can generate a new type of teachers? But imprisoned as we are with our present notions of B.Ed. courses, we ask as to how within a compass of 8-10 months we can create teachers of a different type. But is it imperative that B.Ed. courses must be of the duration of 8-10 months? Can we not redesign programmes of teacher education, both pre-service and in-service, and assign to these programmes of education not merely a short period of eight months, but a long period of five years and even of continuing education? Is it not the right thing for us to overhaul our entire system of teacher education keeping in view that value-orientation is absolutely imperative and that without a good teacher we cannot fulfill the objectives of value education? It would be seen that once the objectives are clear, means will surely be found. Indeed, means will be difficult but we are living in difficult times. After all, it is only by accomplishing difficult things that our own value as human beings can rightly be fulfilled.
Now we come to the fourth layer of arguments that is obstructing our way. We are told that value education must be interwoven in all disciplines of study, and it should not be conceived as a separate discipline. And we must admit immediately the force of truth of this argument. But those who advocate this argument have unfortunately continued to argue but not produced any illustrative literature where it is demonstrated that values can be effectively interwoven in every discipline of knowledge. This has not been not because it cannot be done, but because it is extremely difficult to accomplish it. In any case, it is perfectly possible to treat value education as an overarching subject, and one can prepare both curriculum and learning material more easily to demonstrate how study of values could serve as the central nucleus of varieties of disciplines of knowledge. It may, therefore, be contended that we could create a nuclear programme of value education with several embedded dimensions. It should have an intellectual dimension, an ethical dimension and aesthetic dimension. These three dimensions should again be related to overarching and ever-comprehensive umbrella of spiritual education where the values of inner life and universality and oneness are emphasised, both in theory and practice.
In the new efforts that have to be initiated, one of the most important elements will be related to women's empowerment. For, if we examine carefully, we shall find that the Indian woman has such a combination of qualities and virtues that once she is empowered, she will become an invincible shakti and will be able to create the right atmosphere as far as value education is concerned. It is for this reason that the primacy of the girl child has to be emphasised. Unfortunately, social attitudes in our country have been unfavourable to the girl child right from the prenatal condition. The latest statistics shows that female population is lagging behind male population in our country and girl children suffer from handicaps right from early stages of growth and development.
Happily, only a few days ago, the Government has proposed a scheme which aims at adding value to the girl child and her much neglected life. Under the scheme, families with an annual income of Rs.11,000/- or less per annum, will be entitled to a one-lime grant of Rs.500/- on the birth of their first or second daughter. In addition, when she is ready for primary school she will be entitled to Rs.500/- per year towards her education and at the secondary school level, the annual grant will increase by another Rs.500/-.
While this scheme is to be appreciated, much will depend upon how effectively the scheme will be implemented. But, it may be asked, how will the girl child be supported during the early years before she enters the primary school ‒ a period during which no grant will be available? In fact, there is a strong case for pre-school education for attaining the goal of universalisation of elementary education. It has been seen that Balwadis and Anganvadis or Kindergartens are so conducive to the proper development of early childhood that if important habits are inculcated during that period, the drop-out rate of children at the primary and secondary stages will be greatly reduced. It may, therefore, be suggested that every girl child should have the opportunity of enrolment in a system of pre-school education, and the Government must extend financial assistance for retaining the child in the pre-school system.
It may also be suggested that there is a very important category of families who are just above the poverty line, and it is this sector of families who are already committed psychologically to provide education to their girl children. They need to be supported. Therefore, the new scheme should also provide for financial assistance, if not at the level of Rs.500/- per year per girl child, but at least at the rate of Rs.300/- per girl child per year. It may also be added that in addition to what has been proposed, every girl child should receive, free of charge, at least three pairs of uniforms per year.
We have to underline that education of the girl child holds the key to all other elements on which development of the society depends ‒ i.e. population control, family health, nutrition, receptivity to innovations and educational motivation of children.
All of us need to realise that a very difficult period is ahead of us, that arduous efforts will be demanded of us, and unless we bring about an effective system of value education and integral education urgently, we shall be in a state of continuous peril, and the urgency of value education will have to be coupled with the primacy of the girl child.
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 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 flow and bloom 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?
The first 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 involved in 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, and 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 opportunity 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 first step.
We may now come to the next 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", or value education. This core programme of value education should have, as stated above, an intellectual, ethical and aesthetic dimension. These three dimensions should also be related to overarching and ever-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 gets 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 and 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 can best be communicated through appropriate stories or great passages of literature. Parables from various religions 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, aesthetics, morality and spirituality.
(b) Another aspect of this core programme should he 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 teachings of do's and don'ts. Such a teaching is counter-productive, and students who are bred under the regiment of do's and don'ts develop secret revolt 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, and that 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 will be complete without relating the lessons of science and its relationship with values. One of the present needs 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 art of life, science of mind, and science of the unity of mind and heart, all these have a direct connection with the realm of values which are connected with our physical, emotional 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 has pointed out, 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 society in general.
(e) As a matter of fact, value education and holistic vision of the universe are closely related. The greater the universality of vision, the greater will be the 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 value education. It is here that one begins to bring home to the students and teachers the knowledge and practice of the science and art of self-education.
We may now come to the third step.
Closely 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 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 and 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 reformers 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 the 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 the special concern of Indian culture.
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 should 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 sinews of energy and enterprise.
But those great things of the West are mixed with their 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 morale and 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 our own heritage, to practise our own great ideals which are themselves conducive to universality should not be allowed to be ruined or sacrificed.
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 intellectually, merely on school benches, but they are learnt even vitally, emotionally, concretely and by methods of practice, by methods of concrete internalisation, and by methods 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.
If teachers can change their attitudes towards students, they will make a great effort to observe their students with greater and greater psychological understanding and sympathy. A good teacher can always empathise with the children in the class as a good gardener can empathise with flowers in the garden, whatever their state of development. If teachers can consent to look upon their work as sacred work, a work of priesthood, a work of trustee, a work in which his or her own soul gets directly related to the inmost souls of the children, — if teachers perform their tasks with fresh eyes, fresh vigour, and fresh approach, they can make a great contribution to their children's value-oriented integral development. Good teachers can utilise the important methods of education such as those of setting an example of high character and providing stimulating atmosphere in the class room for their own students. Teachers can cultivate powers of expression and powers of explanation; they can invent striking words, striking phrases and striking ideas, which can illumine the perceptions and thoughts of the children. Teachers can devote their own utmost time to the preparation of lessons for their children; teachers can establish right relationships with children so that they can be inspired to put their trust in them and follow their guidance. There are, indeed, counteracting influences at work, — at home, in school or in society at large. But still, good teachers can make a great difference, and in spite of limiting conditions in which they are working, they can still achieve something that is of basic importance.
Parents also can contribute a great deal. They, too, can become good teachers; they can learn how to look after children and how they can inspire them to develop right habits, right manners, and right attitudes towards things and people, towards environment, towards their work, towards their books and time-tables, towards their time of play and time of study. Parents can supplement teacher's tasks in many ways; and parents can also create in their homes value-oriented atmosphere. They can so organise the home life that nothing is displayed in children's atmosphere which is injurious to children's value education. They can also learn how to sacrifice their outer pleasures for the sake of the growth of their children.
It is true that the circumstances in which the families run these days, the tasks that are expected of the parents may not be so easy to implement. There is a big factor of Television today in every home, and nobody has control over it which is influencing our children in a very big way and often in a disastrous way. But, here again, Parents' Associations can play a great role. They can create a movement in the country to combat this menace. They can pressurise the government to change the policy in such a way that at least the official channels are freed from vulgarity, cheap entertainment, and vulgar advertisements which stimulate lower desires and impulses.
They can also create public opinion whereby parents choose the channels for children and ensure that good films and right episodes are witnessed by children. When there is a downpour, you cannot stop the rain, but you can certainly have an umbrella to protect the body. In the same way, when there is a downpour of films on TV, good, bad and indifferent, — parents can provide umbrella for their children by means of counselling, and by means of setting certain standards in the atmosphere of the home.
The educational administrators also can help a great deal even in the present system of education. Principals, Inspectors, Directors and Policy makers can ensure that funds are allocated for right purposes, that programmes are so designed, — both curricular and extra-curricular, — that value education and integral education get utmost importance, that atmosphere of the institutions is so designed and developed that in every nook and corner, children find display of beautiful things, inspiring thoughts and ennobling stimulation.
Similarly, students also can play their own role. Students can be taught or they can learn on their own how to discipline themselves; they can be stimulated, both internally and externally, how to utilise immense freedom which is available to them in the present day societal environment. They can think of the art of self-discipline, the art of control, the art of concentration. They can also seek guidance of teachers and others as to how to study, what to study and how to develop their faculties, and how to harmonise and integrate their personality.
Changes in the attitudes of the teachers, parents, educational administrators and students can create a suitable climate in which greater reforms in education can be proposed more effectively and fruitfully. For even if there is a new system of education, and the attitudes remain the same, that new system will either not work at all or will become a kind of ornament which might hurt rather than help.
At the same time, it is for the organisers of education, it is for the leaders of education, — to think about an ideal system of education and create fields of experimentation so that eventually a new system of education can be invented and implemented.
In this connection, perhaps the most important thing that we need for implementing value education in public and private schools, universities and other educational institutions is to underline the programmes of training of teachers.
Making of a teacher differs significantly from making, say, of an advocate or a surgeon. The teacher is more than a mere skilled performer in a branch of his profession. It is true, indeed, that he must have the best of skill in accustoming the pupil to the austere joy of mastering a difficult theme, be it quadratic equation or the equation of E=MC2 or any other similar theme. But in the end, when the frontiers of knowledge change, the importance and even the validity of what is learnt may not survive. What survives is the discipline of learning and the values acquired in the process. Whatever be the topic teacher teaches, the ultimate values of his professional endeavour bear on the habits of living and thinking and feeling, the art of life — on what the pupil comes to love and care for. Thus the teacher fashions the life of the pupil — which is the single theme of all education. Skills in teaching are, no doubt, important, but they do not take the teacher far. An otherwise unashamedly desolate teacher may teach effectively; he also influences lives of the pupils no less, but sadly. Therefore, a teacher must not only be efficient, but he or she should also be a good person. The most effective weapon of a teacher is the silent power of example; it matters in the end and always. It is, therefore, necessary that teacher education should aim not merely at cultivation of skills but in making a personality of high character and noble vision. This consideration brings to teacher education very different purpose and responsibility, which are not equally relevant to other professions.
Value education is directly related to integral education. In integral education, every domain gets related to its own proper value system. In the domain of physical education, the values that are promoted are those of health, grace and beauty. In the domain of vital education, the values that are promoted are those of harmony and friendliness, of courage and heroism, of endurance and perseverance. In the domain of mental development, the values that are pursued are those of utmost impartiality, dispassionate search of the truth, of calm and silence, and of the widest possible synthesis. The values pertaining to the aesthetic development would be those of beauty and creative joy. The integrating psychic and spiritual development emphasises the value of intimate sympathy for all, mutuality, ever-increasing wideness, process of self-exceeding and attainment of oneness.
Let us also note that integral education admits integrality of life, and invites life itself to be the teacher of the life of the pupil. As life works through atmosphere and environment created by activities of interrelationship of individuals and things, — even so, integral education aims at creating the right atmosphere and the right environment which are so skillfully organised that outer instruction plays a minor role and personal example of the teacher and nearness of the teacher to the soul of the student play a major role.
As the subject of value-education and integral education is very important, let us present here a brief outline of a synoptic view of the present situation in respect of learning-teaching process, which throws useful light on the pedagogy that we can evolve for application in the field of value-education.
We are passing through a great transition. The old is becoming obsolete and the new is still in the process of emergence. The old ways of learning and teaching are found to be too rigid and too out- moded. A greater application of psychological principles is being increasingly demanded. It has been urged that the training of the young requires on the part of the teacher a deep psychological knowledge. According to some thinkers, the present educational system is a huge factory of mis-education. According to them, the spontaneity of the child is smothered at an early stage by our mechanical methods which are prevalent in our educational system. They contend that the child is not a plastic material which can be moulded according to educators' design, but it is a closed bud having its own inherent capacity to flower and blossom, needing only the favourable climate and conditions such as the right atmosphere, environment, inspiration and guidance. Each child, according to them, is a psychological entity, having its own specific individual needs of growth of knowledge and the teacher is required to develop the same kind of insight and tact by which a good gardener tends to varieties of plants and trees in his garden. Just as each plant needs to be individually looked after, even so, each child, it is contended, is required to be looked after individually. It has been further held that each individual is a great potentiality, but only very little gets actualised, and the rest remains dormant and uncultivated. This means a tremendous waste both for the nation and the world. Not to tap the full potentialities of each individual is thus psychologically unsound and economically unproductive. It has, therefore, been urged that our educational system should either be set aside altogether through some kind of "de-schooling" or radically changed in such a way that each individual is provided with conditions and facilities under which he can grow towards his fullness on the lines that are psychologically appropriate to him.
There is another line of thinking according to which it is not enough to develop the potentialities of the individual but also to direct these potentialities towards their highest values. It has been argued that the psychological development of the individual is an extremely dangerous process unless the development is guided by wisdom and skill and directed towards, certain desirable and sublime ideals. There is a risk, it is argued, of succeeding in developing only highly egoistic and self-centred individuals, if we insist only upon development and do not take a great care to insist on the discovery of the right values, aims, objectives and ideals. It has, therefore, been urged that education should be value-oriented and should provide those conditions and facilities under which each: individual is enabled to discover the highest possible values and embody them as effectively as possible in thought, feeling and action.
An unprecedented education experiment which is taking place in different parts of the world today has resulted in the formulation on new models of learning-teaching process. It has been argued that learning is a process of transmutation, transmutation of innate reflexes into organised and conscious perceptions, visions and actions, transmutation of innate drives into wise and skillful pursuit of means and ends, and transmutation of innate tendencies into harmonious integrated personality. It has been contended that there are observable and discernible processes by which the process of transmutation can be accelerated. We are often asked to consider the tremendous feat of learning that the child performs in the first few years of its life. It has been contended that the child learns so fast because all its occupations are occupations of learning. For the child, all play is learning, and all learning is a play. Again, it is contended, the child learns so fast because the child deals with its universe with its total being by the exercise of all its faculties and by a concrete urge of experience. It has been argued that our entire learning process should be so changed that we are able to create for the learner the same conditions, which obtain in the child's encounter with its universe. Some educationists have, therefore, pleaded for a search of a school that has no walls, and for studies that have no boundaries.
It has also been argued that the learner learns best under the conditions of freedom to choose, under teacher's wise guidance, what he wants to learn and what he should learn. The learner should have also the freedom of pursuing his studies at his own pace. This argument is further intensified when it is seen that an indispensable condition of the moral and spiritual development is secured only when the learner is given ample opportunities to exercise his free will.
Learning by doing is being increasingly advocated. At the same time, it is being recognised that there are, for different categories of learners, different ways of learning. Some students learn better through aesthetic experience, some others through manual work, while still others through intellectual or meditative contemplation. It has, therefore, been suggested that an ideal system of education should provide to each learner that method or such combination of methods which is suitable to his specific needs of learning.
Self-learning is being given in several experiments a pre-eminent place. Individualised programmed instruction, for example, follows an instructional model which aspires to produce an effective communication for securing precisely defined goals of learning, in a manner timed to meet the needs of the individual, mostly with the help of programmed teaching and learning material. An important variant of individualised learning is that of learning by consultation with the teacher, as and when needed. Lecture system, which caters to group learning, plays a minor role in experiments which emphasise self-learning. Even the syllabi and examination system are required to be radically changed in the context of a system based upon self-learning.
Project systems try to combine self-learning with group-learning. Projects may be directed towards an exploration or towards producing some practical action under certain actual situations. In a model that is known as Info-Bank, the learner is required to define what he is interested in and the kind of approach that he wants to undertake. The learner is given the freedom to govern his reading and practical activities and to judge the knowledge acquired and its significance. In some educational experiments, a combination of different information materials is made available to the learner and he is given the freedom to construct and control his own learning process and the environment suitable for the chosen learning process. In yet another instructional model, individual learners learn from one another by informing and consulting one another mutually from time to time. At a higher level of consultation, there is experimental testing and feed-back. In some models, the learner takes over the roles of those responsible for action and decision in simulated environment. In some cases, problems to be solved are frequently more complex and make the acquisition of external information necessary, while in others the required information is supplied in advance. In the “Workshop Model", the learners work like colleagues, supported, if necessary, by organisers and advisers, on the solution of real problems with which they are confronted. In this model, the learning of the methods of work is as important as the production of results.
Educationists are perplexed by the phenomenon of unprecedented explosion of knowledge. Teachers and learners are required to deal with this explosion, and efforts are being made to discover accelerated methods of learning and teaching. The necessity of continuous or life-long education is also being underlined. At the same time, teachers and students are required to distinguish more clearly than ever before, those aspects of knowledge which are essential from those which are of peripheral importance.
There is also today an unparalleled width and depth of enquiry, which necessitates a new kind of learning-teaching process that would be at once comprehensive and yet peculiarly specialised or varied so as to suit each individual.
Again, there is today a great quest all over the world towards the synthesis of knowledge and synthesis of culture. Ancient knowledge is being recovered in the context of modern knowledge. The humanist and the technologist are finding themselves in greater and greater need of each other. It is being increasingly recognised that the learner should not only develop his rational faculties but should also pursue moral and aesthetic tendencies. In India, we go farther and underline the need of a synthesis of science and spirituality. Against this background, there is a quest to discover a point of convergence where different sciences and humanities can meet in a synthesis of knowledge. There is a search for an all-embracing project of work-experience that would generate a continuing process of life-long education. And there is a search for a programme of learning that would necessitate a spontaneous harmony of the needs of a personal development with the needs of collective development. It is being asked if there is a tool of the acceleration of the summing up of the past and the unfolding of the future. And it is asked if there is a method and content of education that would necessitate an automatic synchronization of studies, work-experience and flowering of faculties and values. It has become necessary, both for the learner and for the teacher, to discover or invent such methods by the employment of which the explosion of knowledge can be contained and personality can be developed which would harmonise, progressively, the wideness of the humanist and the skill of the technologist, the disciplined will-force of the moralist and the refined imagination of the artist, and the scrupulous knowledge of the scientist and the sublime vision, wisdom and ever-growing perfection of the profound and wide spiritual culture.
We thus see that there are today powerful trends that necessitate a continual revision of the contents of education as also a continual refinement of the learning-teaching process.
It is against this background that there is a serious thinking to determine the new role that the teacher is called upon to play. The situation in India is in a sense more complex than in many other countries of the world. India is passing through a tremendous period of scientific and cultural efflorescence. This period was marked by a powerful phase of the national freedom struggle during which the Indian subcontinent passed through an unprecedented churning of mental, aesthetic, moral and spiritual ideas. In the course of this churning, profound experiments in the field of education took place, the lessons of which need still to be assimilated. There grew in India during this period an irresistible sentiment to give to the children and the youths of our country a new kind of education, which is freed from the fetters of the system given to us by the British and which would ensure development and promotion among students and teachers not only of the highest values of physical, emotional, mental, aesthetic, moral and spiritual culture, but also those values which are uniquely Indian, and which would at the same time promote a new kind of synthesis appropriate to our own culture. India has developed a kind of secularism which needs to be properly defined, understood and promoted. We have to build up young men and women who would have pride in the Indian heritage and our culture. This would mean that we have to transmit to the children and youths a true knowledge of India, of India's complexity, of India's greatness and of India's innate tendencies to harmonise and synthesise.
The task that lies ahead of Indian education is difficult. We are speeding rapidly towards the turn of the century, and we are being called upon to take into account the educational needs both of today and of tomorrow.
The implications of these trends are many, but we shall limit ourselves only to those practical guidelines that emerge from a detailed study of the relevant experiments carried out in the recent past in India and elsewhere.
The secret of teaching values is to inspire and kindle the quest among the students by means of one's own example of character and mastery of knowledge. It is by embodying values within ourselves that we can really radiate values to our students.
Value-oriented education should not be conceived as an enunciation of a series of command merits. The idea of command merits implies a belief that there are certain actions which are absolutely good, and there are others which are absolutely bad. An inner process, however, shows that outer actions derive their value only in relation to the inner motive and the inner consciousness from which those actions emerge.
It is not actions in themselves but the inner qualities behind actions which are important. The given right quality may express itself in different forms of actions. And each of these actions would be right, since behind each one of them there is the living vibration of the right quality. On the other hand, there are several actions which may apparently seem to be good and right in their outer form, and yet, if they are not spontaneous expressions of the right quality, they cease to have any moral and spiritual value.
A good teacher should, therefore, have a sound psychological knowledge of the different parts of the being, of the different qualities that come into play in various actions, and of the right laws of the development of personality in relation to the development of capacities and values of an integrated personality.
As we have noted elsewhere, values cannot be taught in the same way as lessons of information. Instruction should form a minor role, and a major role should be assigned to intimate contact and individual guidance. The role of the teacher is to put the child on the right road to his perfection and to encourage him in his growth by watching, suggestions and helping, but not imposing or interfering.
All occasions of daily life should be utilised by the teacher to bring his student nearer to the realisation of the ideals. There are occasions when children express wild impulses and passions, and often they are in revolt. Children have their own daily battles and loyalties and friendships, and there are moments of desperate depression and of violent enthusiasm. There are occasions when children get vexed, become sulky and go on strike. All these occasions are occasions for value-oriented education. With patience and perseverance, the teacher can utilise all these occasions to show the truth and light and to awaken among the children the right sense and the right directions of true progress.
We may now venture to suggest some further guidelines which may be helpful to teachers at different levels of guiding and helping the children:
(a) It may first be noted that a good many children are under the influence of their inner psychic and spiritual being which shows itself very distinctly at times in their spontaneous turning truth, beauty and goodness. To recognise this turning and to encourage it wisely and with a deep sympathy would be the first indispensable step.
(b) The most important quality to develop among the children is sincerity.
(c) This quality and several other qualities are taught infinitely better by example than by beautiful speeches.
(d) The undesirable impulses and habits should not be treated harshly. The child should not he scolded. Particularly, care should be taken not to rebuke a child for a fault which one commits oneself. Children are very keen and clear-sighted observers; they soon find out the educators' weaknesses and note them without pity.
(e) When a child commits a mistake, one must see that he confesses it to the teacher spontaneously and frankly; and when he has confessed it he should be made to understand with kindness and affection what was wrong in movement and that he should not repeat it. A fault confessed must be forgiven.
(f) A child should be encouraged to think of wrong impulses not as sins or offences but as symptoms of a curable disease which can be remedied by a steady and sustained effort of the will ─ falsehood being rejected and replaced by truth, fear by courage, selfishness by sacrifice, malice by love.
(g) Great care should be taken to see that unformed virtues are not rejected as faults. The wildness and recklessness of many young natures are only over-flowing of an excessive strength, greatness and nobility. They should be purified, not discouraged.
(h) An affection, that is firm yet gentle, sees clearly, and a sufficiently practical knowledge will create bonds of trust that are indispensable for the educator to make the education of a child effective and value-oriented.
(i) When a child asks a question, he should not be answered by saying that it is stupid or foolish, or that the answer will not be understood by him. Curiosity cannot be postponed, and an effort must be made to answer questions truthfully and in such a way as to make the answer comprehensible to the student's mental capacity.
(j) The teacher should ensure that the student gradually begins to become aware of his deeper self and that with this growing awareness the student is able to harmonise and resolve his inner conflicts.
(k) It should be emphasised that if one has a sincere and steady aspiration, a persistent and dynamic will, one is sure to meet in one way or another, externally by study and instruction, internally by concentration, revelation or experience, the help that one needs. Only one thing is absolutely indispensable, namely, the will to discover and realise. This discovery and this realisation should be the primary occupation of the being, the pearl of great price which one should acquire at any cost. Whatever one does, whatever one's occupation and activity, the will to find the truth of one's being and to unite with it should always burn like fire behind all that one does, thinks and feels.
(l) At higher levels of development, teacher should use the methods of daily conversation and books read from day-to-day. Books should contain lofty examples of the past, given not as moral lessons but as things of supreme human interest. These books should also contain: (i) great thoughts of great souls, (ii) passages of literature which set fire to the highest emotions and promote the highest aspirations, and (iii) records of history and biography which exemplify the living of great thoughts, noble emotions and inspiring ideals.
(m) Opportunities should be given or created which would enable students to embody progressively higher and nobler values.
There are important aspects of the mental, vital and physical education, which contribute to the value-oriented education. They can be briefly mentioned:
(a) In its natural state the human mind is limited in its vision, and narrow in its understanding. It is often rigid in its conceptions, and a certain effort is needed to enlarge it to make it supple and deep. Hence, it is very necessary to develop in the child the inclination and capacity to consider everything from as many points of view as possible. There is an exercise in this connection which gives greater suppleness and an elevation to thought. It is as follows:
A clearly formulated thesis is set; against it is opposed an anti-thesis, formulated with the same precision. Then by careful reflection the problem must be widened or transcended so that a synthesis is found which unites the two contraries in a larger, higher and more comprehensive idea.
Another exercise is to control the mind from judging things and people hastily and without sufficient data. True knowledge is always at a higher level, and one must be able to reach not only the domain of pure ideas but even of deeper experiences. Therefore, the mind should be trained to be silent and to search deeply in order to derive knowledge from higher regions of pure ideas and deeper experiences.
One may suggest a further exercise: Whenever there is a disagreement on any matter, as a decision to take, or an action to accomplish, one must not stick to one's own conception or point of view. On the contrary, one must try to understand the other person's point of view, put oneself in his place and, instead of quarrelling, find out a solution which can reasonably satisfy both parties. There is always one for men of goodwill.
A wide, subtle, rich, complex, attentive, quiet and silent mind is a powerful base not only for the discovery of supreme values but also for manifesting them in our outer actions, thoughts and feelings.
(b) The vital being in us is the seat of impulses and desires of enthusiasm and violence, of dynamic energy and desperate depression, of passions and revolt. The vital being is, however, a good worker, although most often it seeks its own satisfaction. If that is refused totally or even partially, it gets vexed, sulky and goes on strike.
An exercise at these moments is to remain quiet and refuse to act. For it is important to realise that at such tines one does stupid things and can, in a few moments, destroy or spoil what one has gained in months of regular effort.
Another exercise is to deal with the vital as one deals with child in revolt, with patience and perseverance, showing it the truth and the light, endeavouring to convince it and awaken in it the goodwill.
A wide, strong, calm but dynamic vital, capable of right emotion, right decision and right execution is an invaluable aid to the realisation of supreme values.
(c) The body by nature is a docile and faithful instrument but it is very often misused by the mind with its dogmas, its rigid and arbitrary principles, and by the vital with its passions, its excess and dissipation. It is these which are the cause of bodily fatigue, exhaustion and disease. The body must, therefore, be freed from the tyranny of the mind and the vital and this can be done by training the body to feel and sense the presence of inmost harmony and peace and to learn to obey its governance.
The emphasis in physical education should be laid on the development of health, strength, agility, grace and beauty through various exercises, whether done by Yogic Asanas or by other methods of physical culture such as gymnastics, athletics, aquatics, combatives, games and sports. When the body is rightly trained, it will learn to put forth at every minute the effort that is demanded of it, for it will have learnt to find rest in action, and to replace through contact with universal forces and energies what it spends consciously and usefully. By this sound and balanced practice, a new harmony will manifest in the body, which will give right proportions and the ideal beauty of form.
There are many sports which help to form and necessitate the qualities of courage, hardihood, energetic action, initiative, steadiness of will, rapid decision and action, the perception of what is to be done in an emergency and dexterity in doing it. Another invaluable result of these sports is the growth of the sporting spirit. This includes good humour and tolerance and consideration for all, a right attitude and friendliness to competitors and rivals, self-control and scrupulous observance of the laws of the games, fair play and avoidance of the use of foul means equal acceptance of victory or defeat without bad humour and loyal acceptance of the decisions of the appointed judge, umpire or referee. More important still is the custom of discipline, obedience, order and habit of teamwork which certain games necessitate.
In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
"If they (the above qualities) could be made more common not only in the life of the individual but in the national life and in the international where in the present day the opposite tendencies have become too rampant, existence in this troubled world of ours would be smoother and might open a greater chance of concord and amity of which it stands very much in need. The nation which possesses them in the highest degree is likely to be strongest for victory, success and greatness, but also for the contribution it can make towards the bringing about of unity and more harmonious world order towards which we look as our hope for humanity's future."
Works of community service should be included as a part of the total educational process. But to make community service truly value-oriented, emphasis should be laid on the true spirit with which the proposed work is to be done. Requisite spirit can be developed progressively through certain successive stages. For example, the work inspired by desire or by restlessness should be replaced by the work inspired by aspiration for perfection. At the higher stage, work should be done in order to discover relationship with one's own inmost and highest aspirations. At a still higher level, work should be looked upon as an offering, without any sense of bargain. At still higher stages, work should be done in consonance with the highest ideal that is being progressively worked out in the world, namely, the ideal of solidarity, unity and harmony. The entire discipline of work should be looked upon as tapasya, which should be carried out not only in right spirit but also with efficiency and skill. The true morality and spirituality demand meticulous care in handling material things, and one should not tolerate one's own forgetfulness or idleness. There should be a living worship of things, materials, tools and processes of works. There should be an increasing awareness that matter too is sacred.
An important element in children's development is the presentation of dreams of a new world, a world of peace and international understanding, a world where truth alone would prevail, a world where beauty and goodness would pervade all that we see and experience.
Stories and plays to illustrate these dreams would be an effective instrument. Artistic imagination that would refine sensitivity and sense of beauty should develop right from the early stages of education. Even ordinary habitual things of daily life should be taught as activities of art and beauty. That even activities such as those of bathing, cleaning the teeth, dressing, sitting and standing require art and refined sense of beauty should be brought home to children and young students.
Students should be encouraged to live in harmony with Nature and to develop the habit of calm and intimate company of plants, trees and flowers.
At a little higher stage, students may be introduced to the art of listening to music. Acquaintance with some selected ragas (Indian) and harmonies (Western) should be encouraged. Exhibition of books of beauty in its various aspects should also form part of the programmes in schools. A great stress should be laid upon physical fitness as an essential part of the pursuit of beauty.
Those who have special interest in music, art and poetry should be given special facilities so that they can develop their interests and capacities in these fields.
Examples of poetic excellence should also be presented to the students in various ways. An idea should be emphasised that just as there is beauty in the harmony of physical forms, even so, there is beauty in the harmony of the forms of thoughts, words, feelings and deeds.
At a still higher level, special emphasis may be laid on the powers of expression, such as faultless recitation, poetry and dramatics. A special emphasis should be laid on the study of the appreciation of art and music.
A. Since stories play a great role in providing inspiration to the children in regard to values, teachers should prepare various compositions of stories and plays from the world literature, which would satisfy at the best the following criteria:
(i) They should have been written in a language that is chaste and beautiful;
(ii) They should be full of human interests, which however, do not involve plots of mischief and cunning; and
(iii) They should be able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony and a spontaneous inspiration for Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
B. Teachers should also endeavour to:
(a) Select and compile exercises (i) of remembering and repeating noble aspirations and thoughts, (ii) of observation and accurate descriptions, and (iii) of control of senses and speech and behaviour;
(b) Identify subjects and topics, which develop sense of wonder;
(c) Identify topics and subjects, which would provide an inter-disciplinary study of science and values;
(d) Identify activities, which may relate to the free choice directed towards control and mastery over lower impulses and towards excellence in studies and in works;
(e) Identify topics that would help students to widen and heighten their consciousness;
(f) Select topics related to self-knowledge and to the methods of concentration by which human consciousness can be developed not only horizontally but also vertically so as to create states of consciousness in which mutuality, harmony and true fraternity could flower spontaneously;
(g) Identify subjects and topics related to values needed for a new order of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity; and
(h) Finally, identify, subjects and topics related to the Values of the Synthesis of the East and the West.
Let us reiterate, however, that if the teacher is to play his right role in the promotion of value-oriented education, the teacher himself should be value-oriented. It is only when he is himself is value-oriented, that he will be able to give the necessary inspiration, help and guidance to his students. As we have noted elsewhere, values cannot be taught merely by discourse, just as swimming cannot be taught merely by lectures. A good teacher of swimming has to be a swimmer himself, and he should be able to take the learner into the waters to make him swim. Similarly, a teacher of values should himself be a seeker and aspirant of values, and he should be ready to walk with the learner on the long and difficult path of realising and embodying values.