Value-Oriented Education - Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997






Delivered at






SEPTEMBER 22-23, 1997



Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

I am grateful to the organisers of this two-day Workshop on Value Based Education for having given me this valuable opportunity to be associated with it and to meet teachers, parents and representatives of management who are going to participate in the Workshop. I am very happy that the programme that has been chalked out by the educationists like Swamini Vimalananda, Mrs. Radhika Krishna Kumar and Swami Nikhilanada has underlined the importance of value based education and has also produced important learning material that has been incorporated in the "Garden of Life" series. I was very happy when Ms. Parveen Bahl explained to me recently in detail the multi-sided effort that has been employed to bring to the people of our country the awareness of the necessity of character development when only economic values are being given exclusive attention in our present day system of education. The fact that a new awareness is growing in our country to place value education in the centre of teaching-learning process is due to the efforts made by organisations like yours.

May I begin by stating that 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=MC? 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 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 of 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, teacher must not only be efficient, but he or she should also be a good person. The most effective weapon of 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.

It is for this reason that both pre-service and in-service programmes of teacher education need to be re-oriented in such a way that they provide orientation towards value education.

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

It is often asked whether values can be taught. This is a very serious question and lies at the root of the proposals for value-based education. And in answer to this question, it must be acknowledged that values cannot be taught in the same way as Mathematics. But it can be contended that values can be transmitted through subtle and psychological means which bring together methods of training. A very tendencies and aptitudes of volition, affection and cognition. In relation to this special requirement, we need to develop a model programme of value education, which can be varied according to the needs of teachers and students or according to special situations that may obtain at any given point of time. This core programme should have an intellectual dimension, an ethical dimension and an aesthetic dimension. These three dimensions should again be related to an over-arching or all-comprehensive umbrella of spiritual education. A very important part of this programme should be devoted to the theme of science and values, considering that the modern civilisation is undergoing an unprecedented crisis because science and values have been divorced from each other. And they need to be brought together in a happy harmony if we are to deal with the crisis effectively and fruitfully. The programme should also have practical aspects which may involve exercises of volition, exercises of aspiration and exercises of introspection. There should also be opportunities where students can participate in works of community service or situations where courage and heroism can be developed. It is not sufficiently realised how much physical culture can contribute to the practice of values. And ideal sports person develops more easily the qualities of courage, hardihood, energetic action, initiative, steadiness of will, rapid decision and action, perception of what is to be done in an emergency and dexterity in doing it. An ideal sports person embodies the true sporting spirit, which includes good humour and tolerance and consideration for 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. Above all, an ideal sports person develops the habit of discipline, obedience, order, team spirit and cooperation. While speaking of these qualities that physical culture can contribute, Sri Aurobindo has written:

"If these 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 to 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 the unity and more harmonious order towards which we look as our hope for humanity's future."

While preparing the proposed programme, we should lay a great stress on the right type of teaching-learning material. Here, the importance of stories, plays and passages of literature need to be underlined. These selections should possess qualities of chiselled expressions and refined tastes. Even examples of poetic excellence need to be included. They will help us in emphasising that just as there is beauty and harmony of physical forms, even so there is beauty in harmony of thoughts and words and rhythms.

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Value education is directly related to the concept of integral education. And in this connection, the concept of integral education needs to be clarified more and more sharply. There have been in the history of the development of education certain systems where a special stress was laid on harmonious development of the physical, the vital and the mental aspects of personality. Such, indeed, was the Greek ideal of education, which has re-appeared in the West, and which influences the modern educational thinking in. India. However, it can be shown that although some kind of integration is possible between the physical, the vital and the mental, under the leadership of comprehensive mental development or by following the leadership of the powers of the intellect, it is impossible to harmonise the tendencies that support the truth on the one hand and those that support the Good on the other, and these conflict with those tendencies that support the pursuit of Beauty. It is for this reason that that the Indian system of education had in earlier times emphasised the role that the spiritual element in the personality can play in bringing about the true integration. In that light, spiritual education is, by definition, an all-embracing education, and it weaves rightly the rhythms of the physical, vital and mental education under the sovereign power of psychic and spiritual knowledge, which has its own specific methods. We need to emphasise that the knowledge of the secrets of these special methods is very largely contained in the Vedas and the Upanishads, and we have even further developments of this knowledge in our own times. A few remarks in this connection may not be out of place here.

Integration implies complexity: integration implies inter-relationship between different elements contained in the complexity; integration implies a central thread which is capable of weaving together harmoniously the inter-relationship among different elements of the complexity. Integration is not juxtaposition; it is not pursuit of different elements side by side; it is not a process of adding more and more. Integration is a subtle process of harmonising and perfecting various elements in a certain order, in a certain rhythm, and in a process whereby extremes are avoided, balance is obtained, and each element is placed in its proper place according to its value in the totality, determined by the sovereignty of the integrating principle.

Fundamentally, the integrating principle is what the Veda describes as the Mystic Fire (Agni) which has been considered to be the priest (Purohita) or the guide of the human journey. It is what the Kathopanishad calls the being seated in the cave of the heart, not bigger than the thumb (Angushtha Matram), the being which can be discovered by a process which has three elements: (1) a process of inward orientation as against outer orientation which is so normal since all our senses open outward; (2) a process of choosing the good as against the pleasant, or to put in the terms of Kathopanishad, choosing shreyas as against preyas; and (3) a process in which every element of personality is integrated and developed not in a mechanical manner or juxtaposition or arbitrary simultaneity, but according to the inner rhythm of the law of rhythm (dharma) which is unique and special for each individual, who has a specific and unique position in the world, a world of spatio-temporal relationship. This process aims at the discovery of the inner guiding principle and giving to it the ways and methods by which the personality can be integrated and perfected.

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

There are three instruments of personality, — body, life and mind, and there are four powers of personality, namely, knowledge, will, harmony and skill. The process of integral education would mean integrating those three instruments and these four powers in such a way that they all develop, — not at the same speed, but each in its own rhythm, and yet from the point of view of the totality all of them obtaining optimum acceleration of progress.

It will be clear that integral education tends to become increasingly individualised. For each individual is unique in the composition of his or her qualities and characteristics, his or her capacities and potentialities, his or her predominant inclinations and propensities. This is the reason why integral education discovers for each individual his or her own swadharma and swakarma and directs each individual to develop his or her own pace of progress.

The first task of the teacher in integral education is to observe every child and to develop dynamic methods by which the child can be lifted up in its totality into a higher light which can sharpen, chisel, purify, perfect and transform every part of the being, while maintaining a constant balance and integrity. Every minute detail is important in this process. In this process, there is nothing which is too small to be neglected and nothing is too great to be excessively emphasised.

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 inter-relationship of individuals and things, — therefore, 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.

It is evident that in our present system of education, we are greatly removed from the ideals that are implied in integral education. In our present system, we are too occupied with the mental development, and that, too, to a narrow aspect of mental development so that only those qualities of the mind are attempted to be developed which are relevant to subject-oriented, book-oriented and examination-oriented system. We stress the powers of memory rather than the powers of understanding; we emphasise the power of knowing facts and hardly attempt to the development of the power of imagination. Our process of education is a pursuit of piecemeal assimilation of information, and holistic vision of things is hardly given any place.

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

We may now come to the last question that may be of direct relevance to the subject that we are discussing. How can we transform the present system of education into a process of value-based education and a process of integral education? Can we do anything worthwhile in the present system? The first answer to this question is that at least the preliminary things can be done even in the present system, provided that one important condition is fulfilled. If teachers consent to change their attitude, then much can be done, irrespective of the system in which we are obliged to work today. If teachers can change their attitude 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 a 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 integral development. No system prevents a teacher from utilising 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. Nobody prevents teachers from cultivating powers of expression and powers of explanation; nobody prevents teachers from inventing striking words, striking phrases and striking ideas which can illumine the perceptions and thoughts of the children, nobody prevents teachers from devoting their own utmost time to the preparation of lessons for the children; nobody prevents teachers from establishing right relationships with children so that they can be inspired to put their trust in their teachers and follow their guidance. There are, indeed, counteracting influences at work, — at home, in school or in society at large. But still, a good teacher 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 attitude 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 task 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.

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

Again, 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, 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 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.

I am happy that this present workshop is a part of the promising movement where those who are devoted to education are making a tremendous effort to spell out new ideas, to stimulate new attitudes, to provide facilities for new experiments. I am sure that all of us who are associated today with this workshop will learn a great deal and will become better instruments of value- based education and integral education.

Value Based Education 22-23 September 1997

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