Infusing a system of values in schools

Infusing a system of values in schools

It is futile to mesmerize youngsters into passive consumers and try to fill their minds with words like civility, respect, responsibility, tolerance, patience, compassion, generosity, loyalty and morality, says Srijaya N Char

Nothing can be more evasive than that. ‘Values’ is not a subject that can be taught. It is actually a virtue that has to be imbibed. It is inherent in families and the school can only reinforce it. Various schools give it various terms like ‘Value Education’, ‘Moral Science’, ‘Life Skills’ so on and so forth. They allot a period for it and most of the times, those periods are taken away by other serious minded teachers to complete their syllabus.

The moment a teacher imposes her views about ‘values’ on the learner, the learner becomes apathetic. According to Socrates, knowledge about anything other than academic studies is innate in our being but it is hidden. It is futile to mesmerize youngsters into passive consumers and try to fill their minds with words like civility, respect, responsibility, discipline, civic mindedness, open mindedness, tolerance, patience, compassion, generosity, loyalty and morality.

In school when students are forced into silence for the whole day and are required to sit in the same seat day in and day out, it is natural that they become restless. Some kind of change is required for the students for relaxation. Quite a few teachers demand that the students take out a particular book and turn to a particular page only because they have prepared themselves for teaching only that lesson. This reinforces the idea that they need to fall into a slot prepared by the teachers. The teachers here seem to be saying to the students “this is the way I want you to be.”

A lot of ‘moral values’ depend on parental attitudes. They are the most powerful role models thwarting all temptations for the young. Preaching it to them or saying it to them in words will never help. When we were young we had no restrictions as regards to what we should read or watch. There was no TV or computers. We did see a number of English movies and had access to many foreign journals and magazines. We were not chastised for reading them nor were we lectured about ‘good’ and ‘evil’. We were made to feel that ‘West’ was west; and their culture was different from ours, period….


Listening to stories from the epics and other folk tales do help in reinforcing values provided one does not indulge in sentences like ‘The moral of the story is….’ at the end. The moment youngsters realize that they are being made a scapegoat for preaching something, they turn a deaf ear. Instead, any number of stories can be narrated and the students should be left to think and ponder about them. They will unearth the values themselves. Folk tales are rich in heroes and can provide a way of helping children to see qualities that are admirable while examining cultural values and beliefs. Most children's fiction involves protagonists who represent the good versus antagonists who are perceived as bad.

Favouritism

Giving out certificates and trophies for ‘Best Behaviour’ seems artificial. It gets limited to just few students and sometimes it smirks of partiality. It is this trait in the teachers that students abhor. Being partial or having favourites. Such favouritism, instead of instilling positive values becomes a negative hazard. It disrupts the relationship of the students with the teachers. The net result is that they are learning the wrong ‘values’.

If educators are troubled by some of the ways students are behaving they should look within themselves to see if they have been the reason for the trouble. Praising students when they are ‘respectful’ and punishing them when they are caught being ‘disrespectful’ may mean nothing more than getting them to do whatever the educators demand.

Values should be internalized. Youngsters should be made to feel that they have power over their own lives. If families and schools do not give choices and do not see them as individuals, they are likely to push their way to develop agonistic attitudes.


Family and schools may be able to influence the youngsters in certain ways, but should not try to control them. It is true that TV, internet, media, friends and teachers do play a part in influencing the youngsters to internalize values. While some values may seem very important to the parents, the same do not seem as important to the off-springs. It does not mean that the parents have failed.

Values have changed across the world according to times. It can be attributed to different factors. What our grandparents thought of as ‘not right’ was ‘okay’ with our parents. What our generation felt was ‘not right’, seems ‘okay’ with the present generation. So, one should understand that values change according the times and as long as it does not harm the younger generation, they must be given the freedom to live by it.

Role Models

It was believed from age old times that right values like honesty, integrity and humility are important to keep a society civil. As older members of society, we had believed in imitating our leaders. Leaders like Mahathma Gandhi, Vallabhai Patel and their likes.  Do we have role models to look up to in the present times to imbibe values? The present day and age are bereft of real imitable role models. Highly placed persons seem to be indulging in molestations; elected representatives are indulging in corruption, black money and rape. What can our youngsters learn from them? The breakdown of appropriate role models could be one of the reasons for the decline in character.

There are other socially toxic influences that make it all the more difficult for families and schools to instill right values in our youngsters. Youngsters are basically good. Many of them are prepared to volunteer for many services and offer help to others who are less fortunate. It is unfortunate that they are getting misled by the present day political leaders, the internet and the media. They impart confusing messages them into doing things that they themselves do not want to do.

The future of any country rests in the younger generation of today.  What they think today, the nation will think tomorrow.

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