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Values in education are what matter

Try humane discipline, as against regimentation, by means of value-formation for best

The goals of learning, according to Unesco, are four: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live in
harmony and learning to be. Value education embraces all of these.
Learning to know is quite different from learning merely to pass examinations. In learning to know, how
to think is more important than what to think. The bane of the current practice of schooling even in
the best of schools is that students are not taught the art and science of thinking.
Dictated learning
They are told what to think, consigning them to rote-learning, which degrades the otherwise joyful
process of learning into a burdensome imposition.
Examination-driven rote-learning, observes John Dewey, the American philosopher of education,
inMoral Principles in Education , subverts the moral development of children. This implants in them the
immoral idea that nothing has any intrinsic value, which orients them lifelong to mere expediency.
Bridging the gulf
Learning to do, bridges the gulf between knowing and doing. It is in the domain of doing that a persons
values are exemplified and tested. When individualistic goals seeking and maximising ones material
gains to the exclusion of societal good or goals drive learning, education becomes the hunting ground
for personal power and profit. This reduces the scope of doing. The purblind pursuit of individualistic
goals may also be deemed doing; but it is doing of a socially disruptive kind. Education is a social
investment and its beneficiaries need to develop a social conscience. The mark of an educated person,
wrote Plato in The Republic , is his ability to use his knowledge and skills in solving the problems of
society. Viewed thus, it is doubtful if we are educating children or merely training them for the proverbial
The ability to live in harmony, the third goal of education, is the key to developing a productive and
proactive personality. The neglect of this goal in education manifests itself in two attributes in the
educated. First, the inability to relate to their life-world, which suffocates their effectiveness and wellbeing. Second, the promotion, via cut-throat competition, of a negative and conflictual personalityorientation, which undermines the wholeness of a society. This degrades education, albeit by default, into
a socially disruptive enterprise.
Shaping goal
Learning to be, is the shaping goal of education. And it is of crucial importance, given the reigning
acquisitive culture. To be is the very opposite of to have. Currently learning is cast in the having mode .
Assessment tests only how much knowledge a student has and whether or not a child is able to
manipulate this knowledge in tune with the system. Learning thus becomes acquiring the techniques
ofplaying the system. It fails to enable students to be. In the having mode, what is important, for
example, is how much knowledge a student musters. In the being mode the emphasis is on how
sensitively, creatively, thoughtfully the student is able to relate to, and use, the knowledge gained.


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Growth in stature, via lifelong learning, rather than skills in writing examinations, is the hallmark
of learning to be.
The more you have, said Gandhiji, the poorer you are. In saying this, he was underlining the need to shift
our foundation from the having mode to the being mode. The problem with the former is that a person is
only what he owns. He ceases to have any intrinsic worth, which is a state that is inimical to human
dignity. This aggravates the thirst for more and validates a disposition to acquire at the expense of the
values and ideals that undergird social wholeness and personal fulfilment.
Of character-building
Character-building happens when all the four dimensions outlined above are addressed in the learning
process. Character, according to Immanuel Kant, is the ability to deal with situations according to
maxims. Maxims are universal principles, or values. The practice of values implies the ability to
transcend expediency. Your genius, Albert Einstein said, may take you to heights; but whether you stay
there depends on your character.
Neglected aspect
In every policy document on educational policy since Independence, including the latest T.S.R
Subramanian Committee Report, there is an unapologetic emphasis on the importance of, and need for,
value education or peace education in schools. Yet this still remains easily the most neglected aspect of
Education, according to Rousseau, should aim at the perfection of human nature , a goal that Tagore
fully endorsed. Perfection, according to him, results from the total development of all aspects of the
pupils personality, the abilities and powers, with which nature has endowed him. Human nature is a
mixed-up affair. Every human being is capable of good and evil.
It is possible, through appropriate education, to empower what is good and bridle what is evil. Humane
discipline, as against regimentation, by means of value formation is the process of transforming a social
good into an inner drive of individuals.
Education is the only means for addressing this foundational task today. Given the alarming signs of
social degradation and individual drift, the need to put adequate emphasis on value education as a
shaping concern in school education is obvious and compelling. It is gratifying that the Subramanian
Committee Report advocates and underscores it with due gravity.
Decades ago, Sri Aurobindo flagged education as a means to prepare ourselves to take a place among the
standard bearers of the new humanity that is struggling to be born amidst the chaos of a world in
dissolution. The sweep and scope of his prophetic words have only widened since then.


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