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Vicious circle of values, morals and ethics in education
Vinod Singh | 18 Aug 2017

Ancient education of Bharat was based on high ethics of flourishing and enriching guru-sishya-based gurukul system where the guru (teacher) stood for high morals and values and sishya (student) followed those values in high respect and solidarity.

The education of Bharat was seen in such high esteem that students from all corners of the globe used to come here for knowledge and values.

With the gradual invasions by Arabs, Turks and the British, Bharat started to see various changes in social, political, religious, and cultural spectrum and the education, which was once flourishing underwent gradual changes.

The changed model of education especially post Macaulayism changed the basics of ancient education. Although, the anglicized form of education apparently had some advantage, but completely lacked on the ethical front.

The issues related to ethics that we encounter today are perhaps the side effects of the new education model that was implemented in India by the British.

The school education system in India has three main constituents – students, teachers and parents.

In order to understand the issues of ethics, morals and values it is necessary to define each of them.

Values stand for rules set by individuals for taking personal decisions in judging what is right, wrong or bad. Values tend to direct individuals to choose the important and leave the less important matters.

Morals are thick and broader sets of rules which help individuals to judge others as good or bad which we call instinct in general.

Ethics are predefined sets of rules that are observed by a particular group of people like doctors, journalists etc. More specifically, ethics are self-imposed rather than imposed on others.

While assessing the position of each constituent of school education with regards to their readiness to face ethical challenges we find that teachers are most vulnerable to face tough challenges.

Teachers are expected to uphold high values and embrace ethics of teaching but they face most dilemmas like whether to help students beyond the classroom, and if yes, then to what extent?

Second dilemma is whether to keep the teacher-student relationship as friendly or formal like guru-sishya culture! Becoming too friendly may also create problems at broader perspective.

Further, should a teacher resort to taking private tuitions for quick money? Even the strict behavior of a teacher attracts sharp reactions from parents.

There are numerous dilemmas faced by teachers from time to time and it completely depends upon the individual and on the values or morals held by him or her.

The story of our second constituent – student – is no different. Firstly, a student faces the dilemma of whom to follow, the values inculcated by parents at home or the values taught by a teacher at school. For example, students are taught in schools to worship their parents and always obey their wishes. Even parent-teacher meetings are organised in schools to develop such values in students. However, the student sees a very different ideology practiced at home. His/her parents have sent grandmother or grandfather for living in old age home. What should student do here and whom to follow? The conflict is unavoidable.

The conflict of values, ideology and thought create cloud of confusion in young mind. Teacher and parents together may play important roles to avoid such confusion in resolving such confusions in young minds.

Parents are at receiving end of such conflict of ethics. Should parents give more time to his or her ward to develop sense of high values and morals and help him or her understand the ethical values taught in school?

There is no end to ethical issues from either side of education but one thing is certain that if all constituents understand their roles and play it responsibly future conflict of morals values and ethics be avoided for good of students and society at large.