(Values of Children and Teachers: Representation of Larger Narrative)
Education has many facets but the most emphasized aspect of education all over the world is imparting subject knowledge to the students. John Dewey, the great philosopher, affirms that heavy dependence on subject knowledge and methods is fatal to the best interests of education. Instead, education should focus on the cultivation of a mindset which is self-reflective and directed towards value-education. Learning is beyond the importance of knowing or understanding mere facts and schooling should serve emancipatory interests of the society by making children act for collective needs.
John Holt in his book ‘How Children Fail’ argues that the teachers and schools tend to mistake good behaviour for good character. Behaviour can be temporary and may be adopted to please someone or to achieve some objectives. This might not be the part of one’s character. Holt emphasizes that teachers and parents reward docility and suggestibility. They value most in children what children least value in themselves. For example, teachers generally value respect and total submission in children but children do not like respecting unrespectable teachers nor would like to submit before them. To survive in school they would pretend to be respectful and show sham submission as a strategy. They would compensate the stink of showing false respect and sham submission by making fun of these teachers. This kind of bevaviour ultimately promotes false self and the values of docility among the children. Respecting pertains to observing certain rituals or for that matter a set of mannerism. Rituals and mannerism merely create a spectacle and this is used by the authoritarian persons to publicly assume and establish their awe. Through these rituals they ensure allegiance of their subjects. In personal relationships these things do not prove anything. Real respect is respecting and safeguarding others’ rights. Respecting nature is conserving nature. Similarly, respecting our elders is looking after them when they are week and feel redundant.
Schwartz, a sociologist, identified a set of ten basic and fifty-six auxiliary human values. He also found that these basic human values are linked with the environment in which people live (home, school and society at large) and their education. For example, he noted that in these institutions, education correlates with the value of ‘achievement’. The constant grading and emphasis on competitive performance in schools promotes aggregation of individuals and hence, discourage individualism. All children are expected to follow a socially accepted standard of competition. Such standards are considered the only key to success. For example, all parents want their children to be doctors or engineers and nothing less than that. Children are expected to work very hard to achieve high marks and in the course of this struggle they are deprived of other activities which may enrich their personalities i.e. games, music and literature etc. When such children grow up, they become socially reticent and withdrawn from social activities. They become robotic without any sense of pleasure. In this milieu of competition, people always look towards external standards and ignore intrinsic stimuli. Children brought up under this kind of values have an inclination towards submission and become easy target of any authoritarian system. According to Howard Gardener, every child has exclusive abilities. We cannot treat every child with generic standards of abilities. If a child is allowed to follow his exclusive abilities, he/she would not only enjoy pursuing activities rooted in them but would excel beyond any limitation.
Values are essentially part of curriculum at all levels i.e. preschool, formal school and university. For Habermas, the German philosopher, the task of value-education is two-fold:
Every learning system creates a grand narrative. Narrative provides a holistic frame of learning comprising of knowledge, emotions and attitudes. For example, in oppressive societies, a specific narrative is projected regarding the status of women. Specific knowledge is taught about their being. For example, women are just bodies made for the pleasure of men. They are custodian of men’s sperms and therefore any trespassing would not be tolerated. This sense of possession has created an emotional and sacred halo around women. As anybody cannot dare to trespass any sacred boundary, violating body of women is similarly considered sacrilegious. The narrative woven around women also embellish the effect by narrating sentimental stories of women as well as men who sacrificed their lives for the safeguard of this value. These stories not only create emotional suggestibility but also create a specific attitude towards women. Women become passive and men become paternalistic. Herein lies the roots of the tradition of honour killing developed under the value system pertaining to women. Once a relative have just a semblance of violation of this tradition, he/she is predisposed to take action already suggested in the same narrative. Even mother would kill her own daughter and she would feel gratified.
Schwartz has described values as beliefs linked to affect or goals and which motivate action. According to him, values provide criteria for actions and do not prescribe specific actions. Moreover, people prioritize their set of values. This prioritization characterizes them as specific individuals. For example, do they attribute more importance to achievement or justice, to novelty or tradition? Value preferences of individuals are influenced by socio-economic and cultural factors.
People transform their lives according to the given narrative and by following that narrative, they keep this narrative alive. Narrative imitates life and life imitates narrative. Narrative is predominantly present in very sphere and level of life and people’s psyche. It creates a set of values. People by following such values automatically perpetuate this narrative. Narrative in oppressive societies like ours deprives people of their agency to undertake journeys into the autonomously explored worlds.
Any narrative lives on until it becomes redundant and people stop creating meanings through the values set by narrative. At present under world economic system, narratives based on traditional and cultural values have become redundant. With the global movement of capital, national boundaries have become soft borders. There is no doubt that the world economic system is equally oppressive but relatively leaves some space for personal agency as compared to traditional oppressive narratives. Societies frozen in traditional values cannot survive as their progenies cannot survive on the basis of learning based on such values. Any person with critical thinking can succeed in world economic system because this system thrives on innovation but the traditional values do not allow such learning.
People living in traditional societies urgently need transformative learning. Traditional ways of learning reinforce the narrative of oppression. Transformative learning questions this narrative to its core. Transformative learning fundamentally helps in creating new values for paradigmatic change. In the course of transformation, people do experience chaotic feelings regarding their existence because their consciousness in its minutest elements is representing the narrative of oppression and questioning their own being through the prism of transformation provokes anguish. Narrative of oppression also has its defense mechanism and it does activate itself to maintain itself. For example, shaming any person’s behavior is a way to control his/her behavior. When shaming is embedded in a social fabric, it automatically helps in controlling people’s behavior. For example if a person has been stopped from dancing or singing a song in his/her childhood, by saying some body ‘you should be ashamed of singing with such a sonorous voice. A donkey might sing better than you.’ If he/she feels like singing later in his/her adult life, this shaming preserved in his/her mind would stop him/her from singing. Shaming takes away spontaneity from any person and he/she becomes slave to traditional values.
Recently, a study was conducted to know what kind of value system is being promoted in our schools through the teaching learning materials (TLMs) and what impact these have created on students and teachers. This study has been designed around Schwartz’s model of human values which considers conformity, self-direction and tradition as basic human values. Schwartz has presented a model of 10 cross-culturally acceptable values. The model was validated in 50 countries. These ten values have 56 auxiliary values. The following ten values of Schwartz make theoretical framework of the study:
Above set of ten values includes conflicting values too. Stimulation and traditionalism are contrasting values as stimulation believes in ‘openness to change’ while traditionalism asks for ‘conservation’ and conformity. Similarly, universalism requires ‘self-transcendence’ while the value of achievement strives for ‘self-enhancement’. Some values contradict one another e.g., benevolence and power whereas others are compatible e.g., conformity and security.
The study on value system in teachers and students has been done to answer the following two questions.
The results of this are as under:
Measure of Students’ Basic Human Values
|Value||Girls School 1||Girls School 2||Girls School 3||Girls School 4||Boys School 1||Boys School 2||Boys School 3||Boys School 4||Students average|
Measure of Teachers’ Basic Human Values
|Value||Female Teachers in Boys school 1||Female Teachers in Girls school 1||Female Teachers in Girls school 2||Female Teachers in Girls school 3||Female Teachers in Girls School 4||Male Teachers in Boys school 1||Male Teachers in Boys School 2||Male Teachers in Boys School 3||Male Teachers in Boys School 4||Average|
|The analysis of this study is as under:|
Though our experiential knowledge clearly encourages us to believe that our learning system especially in public schools is dangerously irrelevant as it silently promotes inhuman values, yet this diagnostic study provides evidence to this effect. As strategizing learning requires informed knowledge, therefore study on Schwartz’s model of human values identifies areas of values where conscious intervention is required. This study also necessitates developing and implementing a new narrative based on the values of universalism. This cannot be done unless total transformative approach is adopted in the field of TLM development and their implementation. In this respect, parents, teachers, educators and society at large become partners.
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