Life does not come with an instruction manual. We learn how to live as we grow. We learn firstly by observing our parents, our environment and then we learn from school.
To live well is to do away with all that clutters our life unnecessarily and creates problems for us and adopting attitudes that add longevity, meaning, health and positivity into our lives.
Education in very general terms is a process of bringing about desirable changes of behavior in students in accordance with a standard concept of good life.
Young men and women are passing through a crisis of character, and there is a general decline of positive, life-enhancing values in our society nowadays so it becomes imperative to add and encourage value based education in our schools.
Young minds are pliable and should be moulded to adopt good strong values that would make them upright, just and courageous members of society and make our nation strong by doing away with the rot of corruption that is presently plaguing it and threatening to tear the very fabric of our country.
What are values? Values are the guiding principles that shape our world outlook, attitudes and conduct. Any principle that is worthy to be lived by is a value. Life is precious and any principle that enhances the quality of our lives is valuable. Anything that takes away from it is not.
Generally, human values are highly encouraged in society, while negative ideas are discouraged and condemned. The degeneration of values in society leads to:
Lack of respect for the sanctity of human life, and for authority resulting in law-breaking activities and total disregard for rules and regulations.
Crime and corruption, abuse of alcohol and drugs, abuse of women and children and other vulnerable members of society.
Lack of respect for other people and property. Indifference to the suffering of others, injustice, disregard of civic norms, cruelty towards animals, cheating, bullying etc.
UNESCO organized a ‘Values in Education’ Summit in 1998, to encourage schools to review their curricula in terms of value education. The fact that a world body like UNESCO should stress on the need of teaching ‘values’ in the school system is in itself a statement of the gravity of the problems created by the lack of values in society, of the disintegrating systems of law and order and justice in our society.
All cultures and societies encourage its peoples and especially it’s teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, business people and other professionals to have strong human values.
People who live by excellent human values are usually held in high esteem, admired and rewarded. The traits are important especially in leaders and people in influential positions.
Value education is rooted in Indian philosophy and culture. In fact, every culture and every religion point out the right path to live by. Educational institutions play a significant role in the promotion of value.
Though the Vedas and Upanishads have been the source of inspiration for value education it is not as if value education ends there. With changing times values change though the basic values such as respect, kindness to other beings, honesty, hard work etc remain the same.
With Independence as a nation we adopted Socialist, Secular, and Democratic values such as Justice for all, Liberty Equality, Fraternity and Dignity of individuals. Our values in life must draw their inspiration from these ideals.
The importance of value education in school cannot be overemphasized. It is not only what we are taught but how we are taught that plays a pivotal role in making us understand how life ought to be lived and why.
The University education commission 1948-49 mentioned the various aspects of morality as: loyalty, courage, discipline, self-sacrifice and spirituality. The Secondary Education Commission 1952-53 laid special emphasis on the following values in the formation of character of the students: Efficiency Good Temper Cooperation Integrity Discipline
Value based education (VBE) imparts social and moral integrity and character in students. It builds the qualities of self-confidence, strength and honesty in a person. It develops students’ social and relationship skills that last throughout their lives.They become better citizens of the country able to co-operate with each other. They make their life happier and more meaningful.
Categories of Values
Personal Values: Personal values are those which an individual chooses to live by. They are a set of consistent measures and behaviors that individuals choose to practice in their lives as a means of self advancement. Some personal values chosen could be excellence, honesty, hard work, self-motivation, punctuality, ambition, courage, creativity, imagination etc.
Social Values: We do not live alone in the world. Recognizing the need of inter-dependency between people, social values offer us a way to live peaceably with each other honoring the dignity and respect of every individual in society. Values like tolerance, love, affection, friendship, impartiality, empathy, compassion, hospitality, courage, service, justice, freedom, patience, forgiveness, coordination, sympathy, tolerance etc. Social values are important for healthy and happy relationships between people.
Professional values: These values help us to reach the best of our potential in our particular area of work. They can be different for different professions. For a soldier courage and discipline could be important, while for a nurse it could be gentleness and caring, for a judge justice and equality, and for a musician it could be creativity and the appreciation of music.
Spiritual values: Spiritual values are not always connected to religion. Any value that brings fruition to our character and personality and allows us to flower and be our best may be called spiritual values. Spiritual values are piety, meditation, yoga, self-discipline, control, purity, and devotion to God etc. They can also include introspection, compassion for other beings, including animals, peace, and helping others.
Universal Values: It is universal values that indicate the essence of the human condition. It is through Universal Values that we link ourselves with humanity and the cosmos. Universal Values can be experienced as life, joy, brotherhood, love, compassion, service, truth and joy.
Cultural Values: Cultural values are concerned with our particular customs and behavior. Cultural values are reflected in our language, ethics, social hierarchy, aesthetics, education, law, economics, philosophy and social institutions of every kind.
After classifying values, we must be determining which of the above values are most meaningful. Universal values are at the top of the list. The others have their place but it is through Universal values that we experience a sense of oneness with the human race Universal values must be our foundation if we are to enjoy a rich, profound, fulfilling life.