PHILOSOPHY OF VALUE-ORIENTED EDUCATION - I
The need for value-oriented education requires clarification.
Value-Oriented Education Inherent in the Concept of
There are at least three fundamental assumptions of the educational process:
There is, first, the pursuit of man to know himself and the Universe and to relate himself with the Universe as harmoniously as possible. This pursuit constitutes the very theme of human culture. And education derives its fundamental thrust from the cultural setting at a given point of time.
Secondly, there is a process of transmission of the accumulated results of the past to the growing generation so as to enable it to carry forward the cultural heritage and to build the gates and the paths of the future.
And thirdly, there is in the process of transmission, a deliberate attempt to accelerate as far as possible the process of human progress.
In its very nature, education is a normative endeavour. Being at once a product or instrument of culture, education
tends to promote the highest aims of culture. Hence, education tends to be a process of training whereby individuals in the society are enabled to embody progressively those values, which we in our highest thought and aspiration come to regard as something most desirable. It is in this context that education encourages and fosters the arts and sciences as well as technologies whereby man and the Universe can be ideally interrelated. At the same time, the idea of human progress is built up, and education endeavours to discover and apply efficient means of the right rhythm of acceleration of individual and social progress as also of human progress in general.
Education is thus in its nature value-oriented.
Today's conditions necessitating value-oriented education.
The conditions through which human culture is passing today provide additional reasons for value-oriented education:
An increasing number of people of thought and action feel that humanity has been gripped by serious maladies and that these maladies are the result of our disequilibrium between the ideals that mankind is labouring to realise during the recent centuries and the disconcerting actualities which refuse obstinately to change. With the passing of every decade, humanity seems to feel more and more acutely that the realisation of its ideals has become imperative, while at the same time, it seems almost impossible to accomplish this realisation. It is, therefore, felt that humanity is passing through an acute crisis.
A huge structure is being built up with an increasing insistence on efficiency needed for industrialised society, leaving practically no room for the growth of profounder wisdom which can rightly guide human progress in the critical times through which we are passing today.
As never before, humanity is able to envisage several alternative possibilities of the imminent future. As never before, it is felt that human volition can play a decisive role in selecting, planning, designing and actualising these possibilities. As never before, humanity is convinced that the most desirable course for the human race is to strive with fixed determination for human unity, global peace and for the advancing of the three great ideals of progress, namely, liberty, equality and fraternity. As never before, there has been an increasing perception that the most effective means for achieving these desirable objectives is value- oriented education.
This feeling is reinforced by the fact that while under the pressure of technological development, the world is shrinking and we are dreaming of the possibility of a planetary civilisation, for which we have not yet secured a corresponding psychological development, which could enable human consciousness to sustain such a planetary civilisation. On the contrary, there is a growing preponderance of those impulses, which can thrive only in ignorance, fragmentation, discord and violence.
In India, there is a feeling that the country is sinking under the weight of problems such as those of terrorism, corruption, and plutocracy, and it is
realised that solutions need to be sought at a level that is far deeper than the level at which we are now thinking and acting and that special attention has to be paid to the promotion of values that can counteract the increasing destruction of the country and its culture. Against this background, both from the global point of view and from the Indian point of view, we need to develop and practice value-oriented education.
But what is the meaning of values?
As understood in the context of educational philosophy, values refer to those desirable ideals and goals which are intrinsic in themselves and which, when achieved or attempted, evoke a deep sense of fulfilment to one or many or all parts of what we consider to be the highest elements of our nature.
In a sense, the world "value" is basically indefinable, since it denotes a fundamental category and it is itself the highest genus of that category.
There is a common understanding that truth, beauty and goodness (satyam, shivam, sundaram) can be conceived as the supreme values of life. They are intrinsic in character and they are ends- in-themselves. Even if there are wide differences as to what is meant by these three terms, there is an agreement that they are the most desirable ideals and mere orientation towards them inspires development of those states of our being and becoming in which we can hope to find some kind of ultimate fulfilment.
There is a view that values are relative and subjective in character. It is, therefore, argued that individuals should be left to themselves to determine their own value systems and that educational institutions should confine themselves only to those domains where objective knowledge is discernible or determinable.
There is also a view that value systems stem from religious beliefs, and since these beliefs are dogmatic in character, they conflict with the demand of reason, and hence, they have no place in education, where one of the chief objectives is to cultivate among students the pursuit of rational and scientific temper.
According to some educationists, values, even if they are determinable, cannot be taught and for this reason also, it is argued that there is no rationale to bring value-oriented education within the purview of schools and universities.
On the other hand, there is a view that value systems have determined the orientation of civilisations, and these value systems should be emphasised in the educational system. It is also argued that there should be a rigorous inquiry into those values, which transcend relativity and subjectivity. It is also argued that many religions and moral systems advocate certain common values and that these common values, when identified, could be recommended for any education system in its value-oriented programme. It is also
argued that there is a common agreement in the world in respect of rights and responsibilities, and many of them are even incorporated in constitutions and legal systems. All these are value-oriented and these values should constitute the core of value-oriented education.
A recent and disturbing increase in the trend of drug addiction among youths tends to reiterate the necessity of education that promotes the values of self-control, discipline and right habits of thought and conduct among youth.
The Question of the Relativity and Subjectivity of Values
If we examine the history of value systems, we find that there have developed several standards of conduct, which can be arranged in an ascending scale or ladder.
The first is personal need, preference and desire. There is no doubt that the standards of conduct based on what the individual feels to be his own needs, whether these are constrictive or derived from desire or instinct or egoistic pressure, it is bound to be relative and subjective. The individual would then be the measure of all things, and what is good for one individual is good for him and what is good for another is good for that other. Might would be right; and there could be no place for any impartial or universal law of action. When man is primitive, historically or psychologically, he tends to be individualistic and egoistic and tends to create standards of action or conflict, which result in self-seeking and self-aggrandisement.
But no individual can live in isolation, and no individual can be allowed by the very fact of his social existence, to impose upon others what an individual considers to be his good, based upon his personal need, preference or desire. Every social group tends to create its own standards of conduct and impose it upon its individual members.
In erecting the group's standards, there are several strands of consideration. At the highest level of these strands is what may be called objective utilitarianism. According to it, an action is to be judged by the consequences it produces, and if the consequences are pleasant for the largest number in the society, then that action is judged to be better than any other action.
There is also another form of objective utilitarianism, according to which an action is judged to be good not merely by reference to the pleasure that is produces but also by the degree to which it promotes both knowledge and character. According to this view, there is a hierarchy, and the value to be attached to knowledge is greater than the value to be attached to pleasure, and the value to be attached to character is greater than the value to be attached to knowledge. It maintains that an objective calculus can be created in every social group on the basis of these criteria and social law can be framed on the basis of this calculus.
It is argued that objective utilitarianism forms a higher step in the ladder of evolution of value-systems, and that the standards and prescriptions it proposes cannot be termed to be as relative or subjective as those created merely by personal need, preference or desire.
However, it is still subject to criticism in that it is not able to resolve the conflict between the social good and the individual good.
A higher law of morality seems to prescribe what may be called intrinsic good or intrinsic right without reference to consequences. Indeed, at a higher level of development of civilisation and culture, we find a law of conduct emerging from the moral intention and will, and moral will is considered good because it is goodwill. Here goodwill is recognised to be goodwill intrinsically, merely by reference to intention and motive and not by reference to what issues in the form of actual action and its consequences.
In one of the forms of this view, which can be termed as rationalistic and objective intuitionism, an objective criterion is attempted to be laid down by which the intrinsic rightness can be adjudged. It points out that an action can be adjudged to be right if it can be willed universally without self- contradiction.
It is at this level of a value-system that we attain to the concept of absoluteness and objective of the good and the right, and we have the concept of love, justice, right reason, or of the categorical imperative.
From a certain point of view, the answers given by rationalistic intuitionism, may meet the criticism that morality is relative and subjective. Shastras of
Dharmas have often been erected at higher levels of culture, and they have been thought to be objective and universally justified on the grounds of right reason.
But we find that even in arriving at the standards of absolute love, absolute justice, absolute right reason, we are not able to resolve the state of disequilibrium. Right reason dispassionately considering facts of nature and human relations in search of satisfying norm or rule is unable to rest without modification either in the reign of absolute justice or in the reign of absolute love. Man's absolute justice easily turns out in practice to be a sovereign injustice. Again, justice often demands what love abhors. It is, therefore, difficult to find an absolute and objective agreement where a given particular action can really be adjudged to be right, where love and justice can meet together in harmony and where absolute right reason can unalterably indicate in actual situations of life what is conceived to be absolute justice or absolute love.
A distinction needs to be made between the human thrust towards the values of the right reason, absolute love and absolute justice, on the one hand, and various manifestations of this thrust in the form of certain specific and particular actions, on the other. While it is true that there can be differences of opinion as to whether certain specific actions are absolutely good - or not - and here relativity and subjectivity do enter - there is still no doubt that good will is independent of personal need, desire or preference; the judgement of goodness of goodwill is free from relativity or subjectivity.
In other words, there is in the human consciousness the possibility of the development of goodwill that can be considered to be objectively good.
This discussion has important consequences for value-education. If value-education proposes to prescribe any particular specific action or any particular value-system by any specific and preferred criteria, then the criticism against subjectivity and relativity in regard to the same would stand with considerable force. But if the proposal is to promote thrust and aspiration towards goodwill, then the case for value-education can be set on sound and strong footing.
This would mean that it is preferable to propose value-oriented education rather than value-education. For value-education is likely to end up with prescription of do's and don'ts, and this prescription will have a weak ground. But if our aim is to provide in education, conditions for the promotion of the growth of aspiration towards goodwill and cultivation of goodwill, and if an attempt is to provide to each individual the inspiration and means to transcend his own limited needs and preferences and egoism, so that in his own personality, subjectivity is progressively attempted to be transcended, then such education can be defended both philosophically and pedagogically. Such education can be properly called value-oriented education.
Value-oriented education should then be defined as a progressive and exploratory process of development, which promotes unconditional pursuit
towards goodwill. This education leaves each individual free to determine the contents of the good and the right, provided they are motivated by goodwill.
Not value-education but value-oriented education, not prescription but exploration - this is the conclusion to which we seem to arrive, when we consider the domain of values and its study and practice through processes of education.
Values Prescribed by Religions and Moral Systems
In view of the above analysis, it appears that there is no need to labour unduly on preparing lists of values and to enter into controversies as to which values should be advocated, whether they should belong to one specific religion or the other, or of one particular moral system or the other, or of one particular culture or another. Value-oriented education is to be a process of development of goodwill, arid its method would be that of an exploration of the realm of values, and, again, what is to be emphasised is to orient the students to the dimensions of values rather than to the prescription of do's and don'ts of any set of values. If properly explored, this would lead to the exploration of various other sets of values, so that each student would then be free to determine for himself or herself what values one should adopt as a result of a sincere exploration of the realm of values.
Under the guidance of this general and overarching spirit of value-oriented education, we may take the Socratic view that Virtue is Unity and that no virtue
can be fully practised unless in the course of practice, all virtues are embraced. There is no harm in preparing lists of virtues, and we may even contemplate hierarchy or relationships among virtues. But all this can be encouraged as a part of exploration, allowing every student to arrive at his or her own conclusions.
Indeed, it is very useful to explore and compare one set of realms with other sets of values.
In the process of exploration, it is certainly salutary to emphasise those values, which foster unity and harmony, integration and integrity of the nation and human unity and peace. Inevitably, those values, which have been laid down as binding under constitutional law as rights or duties will also come to be emphasised and cultivated as a part of citizenship. Also, in our own times, there are universal declarations of rights and responsibilities and these also have to be underlined and cultivated amongst students. In the process of education, however, examination of these values and even a critical examination has to be fostered and has to be considered as a part of the pursuit of value dimension.
Integral Value-Oriented Education
A very important concept that has become predominant in recent educational thought is that of integral education. At the international level, this concept came to be centrally highlighted by UNESCO through its famous report "Learning to Be", which laid down "that the aim of development
is complete fulfilment of the human being, in all the richness of personality, complexity of form of expression and various commitments."
It is increasingly realised that in the contemporary world, the humanist and the technologist are finding themselves in greater and greater need of each other and the scientist and the mystic are getting ready to embrace each other.
It is being acknowledged that human personality is complex and that each major element of the personality needs to be integrated with the totality in a harmonious manner. In other words, the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic and spiritual do not stand in juxtaposition, but they have among them a constitutional relationship. The physical and the vital can, to a great extent, be controlled and guided by the mental, and to a certain stage of development the mind can act as a leader. But the leadership of the mind is rather restricted and often fails and fails disastrously in controlling or leading the vital and the physical. Reason is opposed by Unreason, and conflict between the two, as seen today, is extremely grave. Moreover, as the rational, ethical, and aesthetic powers of the mind begin to develop, they begin to collide among themselves. It is, therefore, being recognised that the psychic and the spiritual powers of the human personality need to be brought forward so as to establish the true integration of all the powers of the being.
In our present system of education, we are too occupied with mental development, and we give
preponderant importance to those qualities, which are relevant to subject-oriented and examination- oriented systems. In contrast, the concept of integral education implies a simultaneous integrated process of the development of the qualities and values relevant to physical education, vital education, mental education, psychic and spiritual education.
In the domain of physical education, the values that are implied are those of health, strength, plasticity, grace and beauty. In the domain of emotional education or vital education, the values that are pursued are those of illumination, heroism, and harmony. In the domain of the rational development, the values that are to be sought after are those of utmost impartiality, dispassionate search after truth, calm and silence and widest possible synthesis. The values pertaining to aesthetic development would be those of vision of beauty and creative joy of the deepest possible aesthetic experience and expression. Values that the moral being ought to seek are those of sincere goodwill and obedience to whatever one conceives to be the highest. In psychic education, the values to be sought after are those of the aim of life, the highest development of the individuality free from egoism and knowledge that guides the inmost and harmonious relationship between the individual and the cosmic, and fulfilment in the light of the supreme discoveries of the ultimate reality, whatever it may be. The values of the spiritual domain are those of highest unity and oneness and pursuit of perfection of all parts of the being and of instruments of personality.
Integral value-oriented education is a matter of research, and the results of this research indicate the need to simultaneously develop knowledge, will, harmony and skill, and that this development should be for each individual a system of natural organisation of the highest processes and movements of which he or she is capable.
It may be observed that integral value-oriented education could be pursued independently of any particular, moral or religious doctrine or any particular spiritual discipline. Whether one belongs to one religion or the other or to no religion, one can pursue this integral process through a process of exploration, even experimentally and experientially.
Morality and Spirituality
In any sound philosophy of value-oriented education, an effort should be made to arrive at clear conceptions of morality and spirituality, since both are distinct and yet related, and since both need to be distinguished from religion. Again, this matter is very important in the context of the Indian system of education, since the Indian Constitution clearly states that "No religious instruction shall be provided in educational institutions wholly maintained out of the State Funds", and that "No person attending any educational institution recognised by the State and receiving aid out of State Funds shall be required to take part in any religious instruction that may be imparted in such institutions or to attend any religious worship that may be conducted in such institutions or in premises attached thereto unless such person or, if such a person is a minor, his guardian has given his consent thereto."
As far as the distinction between morality and spirituality is concerned, it may be said that much depends upon what we intend to include in our definition of the word "morality" or in the word "spirituality". In Indian thought, a distinction between morality and spirituality has been clearly made and we have two definite terms, naitik and adhyatmik each having its own specific and distinguishing connotation.
The word "morality" connotes a pursuit of the control and mastery over impulses and desires under the guidance and supervening inspiration of a standard of conduct formulated by thought in consideration of man's station and duties in the society or in consideration of any discovered or prescribed intrinsic law of an idea. Morality is often conceived as a preparation of spirituality. Spirituality, on the other hand, begins when one seeks whatever one conceives to be the ultimate and the absolute for its own sake unconditionally and without any reservation whatsoever. Moreover, while morality is often limited to the domain of duties, spirituality is fundamentally a search of the knowledge that liberates (sa vidya ya vimuktaye). As it is declared, true knowledge is not intellectual knowledge but spiritual knowledge.
Both the moral and the spiritual are to be distinguished from what is called "religious" when we speak of religious instruction. Religion, which can be calledsampradaya has the following distinguishing features:
Specific religious dogma regarding the nature of Reality, laid down in scripture or by traditional founder, prophet or incarnation;
Every specific religion has, as its essential ingredient, certain prescribed acts, rituals and ceremonies; A religious authority to which religious matters are referred and the decision of which is final.
Both moral and spiritual values can be practiced irrespective of whether one believes in one religion or another or whether one believes in no religion. Both morality and spirituality can be independent of the rituals or ceremonies and of any acts specifically prescribed by any particular religion. Furthermore, both of them are independent of any authority expect that of one's own free judgement and direct spiritual experience.
It is also useful to distinguish religion from what in India is called dharma. Dharma is not any religious creed or dogma nor a system of rituals, but a deeper law of the harmonious and interdependent growth of the deepest aspirations of the collectivity and of the individuals that constitute the collectivity. Dharma can be regarded as an ordered system of moral and spiritual values.
Spirituality proceeds directly by change of consciousness, change from the ordinary consciousness to a greater consciousness in which one finds one's true unegoistic being and comes first into direct and living contact and then into union with the Spirit. In spirituality, this change of consciousness
is the one thing that matters, nothing else. Spirituality not only aims at the total change of consciousness, but its method is that of a gradual and increasing change of consciousness. In other words, spirituality is an exploration of consciousness through a progressive change of consciousness.
In spiritual consciousness, and in the knowledge that it delivers, there is the fulfilment of the highest that morality and religion in their deepest core seek and succeed only when they cease to be limited within their specific boundaries. It replaces the moral law by a progressive law of self-perfection spontaneously expressing itself through the individual nature. In this operation, no more is the imposition of a rule or an imperative on the nature of an individual. The spiritual law respects the individual nature, modifies it and perfects it, and in this sense, it is unique for each individual and can be known and made operative only during the course of the change of consciousness. In its progressive movement, it may, if necessary, provide a sort of long period of governance by a moral law, but always as a provisional device and always looking for going beyond into a plane of spontaneous expression of the Right and the Good. To spiritual consciousness, moral virtue is not valuable in itself, but only as an expression of a complex of certain qualities, which are, for the time being, for the given individual, necessary and useful in an upward journey. For the spiritual consciousness, what is commonly called vice has, too, behind it a complex of certain qualities, which have a certain utility in the economy of Nature, and can, therefore, be converted by placing them in their right place, as a complement to what lies in consciousness behind what are commonly called virtues.
Spirituality is not confined merely to the aspect of conduct; it includes all works and strives by the method of a progressive change of consciousness for the perfect harmonisation of all the aspects of works; and through this striving it realises also the unity of works with the highest Knowledge and the deepest Love.
For spiritual consciousness, that which is commonly called agnosticism, scepticism, atheism, positivism or free thinking has behind it a concern and a demand for a direct knowledge, which, when rightly understood, recognised, respected and fulfilled, becomes a powerful element of spirituality.
For spirituality always looks behind the form to the essence and to the living consciousness; and in doing so, it brings to the surface that which lies behind, and its action is therefore of a new creation. Spirituality transcends the forms and methods of morality and religion and recreates its own living and progressive forms.
In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
Spirituality is in its essence an awakening to the inner reality of our being, to a spirit, self, soul, which is other than our mind, life and body, an inner aspiration to know, to feel, to be that, to enter into contact with the greater Reality beyond and pervading the universe which inhabits also our own being, to be in
communion with It and union with It and a turning, a conversion, a transformation of our whole being as a result of the aspiration, the contact, the union, a growth or waking into a new becoming or new being, a new self, a new nature.
Values of Indian Culture
It is natural that Indian education underlines the importance of what can be called Indian values.
In Indian thought, a distinction has been made between the ego and the self. According to Indian thought, egoistic personality is ridden with self- contradiction and conflicts and true self is the integrating centre in which physical, vital, mental and other personalities are harmonised. Pursuit of self-realisation is held out in Indian educational thought as one of the supreme spiritual values.
There are, indeed, certain other values which are uniquely Indian, in the sense that even though these values may be commonly shared by India and other countries, they are pursued in India either with a certain special zeal and dedication or pursued with a certain speciality or completeness. For example, the value that we attach to the ideal of tolerance is something special in India. In fact, the word tolerance itself is not adequate to convey the intended meaning. In the ordinary idea of tolerance, there is still a feeling that our own preferred idea is somewhat superior to the other contending ideas. On the other hand, what is peculiarly Indian is the sentiment and the
recognition that various principal contending ideas are all equally legitimate ideas and that superiority lies not in holding one idea as some preferred idea but in trying to find such a synthesis that each idea finds its own highest fulfilment in it. What is uniquely Indian is that the value and ideal of synthesis has been pursued throughout the long history of Indian culture as the most desirable goal - and that too repeatedly and with very special insistence.
Along with the basic idea of synthesis, there is also the accompanying idea of unity, mutuality and oneness in diversity.
Similarly, what is meant by secularism in the Indian context is uniquely Indian. According to the Western idea, secularism means a tendency or a system of beliefs, which rejects all forms of religious faith or worship. It means something that pertains to the present world or to things, which are not spiritual or sacred. In the Indian context, however, secularism means comprehensiveness in which all religions receive equal protection, treatment and respect, and in which there is place for every one whether he belongs to one religion or another or to no religion. Again, Indian secularism encourages us to approach everything, whether material or spiritual, with a sense of sacredness. In Indian secularism, there is freedom for the propagation of each religion without hindrance or bar and there is also the freedom to promote and propagate synthesis of religions. At the same time, Indian secularism insists on the promotion of moral and spiritual values, which are common to all religions and to no religion as also on the promotion
of a synthesis of science and spirituality. Secularism so defined and understood is, thus, a very special value that is uniquely Indian.
There are several other Indian values, which require a special mention and which should find their right place in our educational system. The sense of joy that is behind various festivals in India, which are shared by the people of the country is something, which can be understood only when one enters into the heart and soul of Indian culture. The Indian idea of the rhythm of life and the law of harmony, expressed by the word Dharma is also uniquely Indian. Again, the value that we attach to pursuit of knowledge, to the pursuit of purity, to the pursuit of wisdom is something unique, in the sense that these things are valued most and they are cherished most, and on the call of which we are inspired to renounce everything. We feel that all this and many other values, which are uniquely Indian should be encouraged and fostered.
It is noteworthy that the great Indian values, some of which we have mentioned above, became dynamically vibrant during the period of India's struggle for freedom. In fact, this period was marked by the rise of great men and women who embodied these values and enriched them. Again, it was during this period that these values guided and shaped great movements and events. Thus a study of our nationalist movement provides a perennial source of inspiration, and it should be a part of a programme of value-oriented education.