The Goals of education according to UNESCO are four:
1. Learning to know,
2. Learning to do,
3. Learning to live
4. Learning to be.
Value education embraces all 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 current practice of schooling, even in the best schools, is that the students are not taught the art and science of thinking. They are told what to think, consigning them to rote-learning, which degrades the otherwise joyful process of learning into a burdensome imposition.
American educationist John Dowey in his book “Moral Principles of Education” says that examination driven rote learning subverts the moral developments of children. It would make a cleavage between life and lessons, but ‘learning to do’ bridges the gulf between knowing and doing. It is in this domain of doing a person’s values are exemplified and tested. Education becomes the hunting ground for personal profit, when one seeks after individualistic goals and tries to maximize one’s material gains to the exclusion societal good and goals. Education is a social investment and its beneficiaries need to develop social conscience. The famous Greek Philosopher Plato in his book “The Republic” says that the mark of an educated person is his ability to use his knowledge and skills in solving the problems of society.
The ability to live in harmony, the third goal of education, is the key for developing productive and proactive personalities. The neglect of this goal in education manifests itself in two undesirable traits in the educated.
1. Inability to relate to their life-world and as a consequence they become ineffective and are unable to contribute anything to the society.
2. Promotion of cut-throat competition or unethical means degrades education and thereby it becomes socially disruptive enterprise.
The fourth goal is ‘learning to be’. This is important in today’s consumeristic culture. ‘To be’ is the opposite of ‘To have’. In today’s context, learning gives importance to the quality of the knowledge one has. The assessment tests are meant to know how much the knowledge the child masters. It fails to enable the students “To be”. In the “Being mode” the emphasis is on how sensitively, creatively and thoughtfully the student is able to relate to, use the knowledge gained. Growth in stature through lifelong learning, rather than skills in writing examination 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”.
Character-building happens when all the four dimensions outlined above are addressed in the learning process. “Character” according to Immanual Kant, is the ability to deal with situations according to universal principles.
Value Education still remains easily the most neglected aspect of education. Education is meant for the “Perfection of human nature”. Perfection according to Tagore is the result of the total development of all aspects of the pupils’ personalities and powers with which nature has endowed him. Every human being is capable of doing good and evil. Human discipline, as against regimentation has to be cultivated. The value formation aims at transforming a social good into an inner desire of the individuals.
Given the alarming signs of social and moral degradation and individual drift, the need to put adequate emphasis on value education as a shaping concern in school education is obvious and compelling.
Already Sri Aurobindo has said that Education is to be a means to prepare ourselves to “take a place among the standard bearers of the new humanity that is struggling to learn amidst the chaos of the world in dissolution”
I wish all the teachers and students an enriching scholastic year.
Most Rev. Dr. M. Devadass Ambrose
Bishop of Thanjavur