Value Education in Schools

Ram Rattan Sharma
This crisis in and erosion of values in the growing generation appear to be two major areas of concern. These days one would assume that till yesterday, values were quite stable and education catered to the development of values among the young. However, a critical examination of history would reveal that the so-called value crisis has always existed in society whatever the period under reference. The older generation has always been disenchanted with the values assimilated by the younger generation, which finds expression in their behavior. The greater the pace of social change and industrial development, the greater is the level of disenchantment. Primitive societies that are cut off from other societies and live in isolation do not face value crises because the traditional modes of behavior are passed on to the younger generation without any change. If we examine Indian society, we find that value crisis became perceptible after the 1950’s. Accelerated pace of industrial development, break down of the institution of the Joint family, migration from villages to neighboring towns, emergence of metropolitan cities, increased migratory population, faster means of communication and plurality of alternative mass media programmes especially television and video have accelerated the value crisis. The general feeling now is that value education needs to be tackled as an emergency. The rising expectations from life and the craze to become richer than one’s neighbour and earlier than others has distorted our vision of life, we seem to be looking at life through a broken mirror . Incidentally, the concept of education is essentially value based, it can never be free of values or remain neutral viewed as a formal, organized institution, education is essentially a process of inducting the younger members of society in to a kind of life that is perceived as desirable for the individuals as well as the society belongs to. All aims of education reflect the values they have been derived from, since education is the obverse, side of life in a society during a particular time space matrix. Changes in society over time must be reflected in education and the curriculum that sustains it, otherwise the link between education and life would snap. Unfortunately educational curricula have not been able to keep pace with changes in various dimensions of our contemporary life. As a result, the present day Indian education stands at the cross roads.
It may also be pointed out that the present day education has been reduced to a mere acquisition of techno informative knowledge and skills, unfortunately education these days does not help evolve and foster a distinct personal identity. Development of a marked social and national identity appears to be an almost unattainable goal for the present, the entire concept of balanced value education rests on the what and how questions. In other words what should be the content of value education and what should be its implementation strategy? Under content, we normally list a variety of values. Various lists of values have been developed by individuals, institutions committees and commissions. Some of the advocates of Value Education want the value of Ashram based education to be the bed rock of contemporary education in India. They forget that despite their best efforts, they cannot wish away the influence of the movies, satellite, television programmes and globalizations. This, however, does not imply that we should project our entire cultural heritage. We should be selective in our approach. Whatever is relevant and useful should find a place in our balanced approach to value education. Our rich and varied past offers us three values, which are the needs of the hour. Our environmental crisis has made us all the more conscious of the relevance of these values, viz, respect for life, unity of all life and being and tolerance. Our recorded as well as unrecorded history bears testimony to our deep commitment to these values, communal riots, merciless killing of wildlife, and the increasing divide between various sects and communities that constitute India, reveal that the brute in us is still alive and the struggle to tame and subdue it has to be continued. Our constitution reflects a vision of what we want to become as a nation and what should be the basic values that characterize our society and its Governance where we have arrived today and how we transgressed, flouted and disregarded these values. We were so divided and so disintegrated as a people as we are today.
Life within the school deserves a special comment. It is often heard that values should be caught rather than taught. True, but before values are caught by the students, they should be presented in a sustained manner by the entire school life and its various programmes. For this to happen, the teacher should be conscious of his role as the king pin in the value education programme. A teacher does not teach only his subject, he essentially teaches his values and also his beliefs. The techniques that he uses are of peripheral importance, but his comment to the value education programme and his faith in presenting it in a sustained manner through his role model behaviour is of vital importance.
Effective value education has to be balanced interms of the relevance of values to contemporary society. What is needed is the collective effort of the school, the parents and the community. Since the school can provide a more regulated life geared to better learning and value education, within the school the principal being the leader of the team should be the person most committed to it. It is suggested that the entire value education programme in a school should be developed through democratic means. So that consensus building and personal commitment of the teachers are achieved as the necessary input. This will go a long way to ensure the expected success of a well orchestrated value education programme.
(The author is former Dy Librarian University of Jammu)