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Humane Values Need to Be at the Very Heart of Education

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By Fr. Babu Thattil CMI
Education is a process of reaching out from what one is to what one ought to be. It begins from the very conception of a child in the womb and carries on until he/she reaches the final destination in this world i.e. death. Experience is the best teacher, and everything a person experiences throughout his/her life can be a valuable source of education or learning. Understood in this way, education is a lifelong process. It isn’t something that is learnt only in formal educational institutions such as schools and colleges and that one pays a fee to acquire. Life itself is one vast school!
Education is the search within, to bring out the potential inherent in oneself that is as yet unutilized and undiscovered. Education can be compared with the process of the blooming of a flowering plant. The flower comes from within the plant, not from outside. Likewise, the potential to acquire knowledge and wisdom is already there in each one of us. Teachers and others can only help us nurture it.
What should be the goal of education? For most people in the ‘modern’ world, education is only a means for getting a ‘good’ job and earning as much money as possible. I feel this is a curse. Focusing simply on scoring high marks in exams and a result-oriented learning go completely against what education ought to be. One consequence of this sort of ‘education’ is that the pressure put on the students from various corners often becomes unbearable for students. Little or no attention is given to the students’ character formation. With many years of experience of teaching and managing schools I can say that I am really worried about the present educational system and where it seems to be heading.
Unless the whole system of education is redefined and rearticulated, the situation can only get more alarming. We need to give much more attention to value-based education. Ethical and moral values should have a much more prominent place in education. Marks in exams must come only after that. Fraternity, righteousness, concern for others, respect for elders and teachers, respect for other faiths and cultures and other such humane values must be given the top priority. Any ‘education’ without self-discipline and character formation will be a threat to the very human race.
(The author is a Catholic priest from the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate [CMI] congregation with many years of teaching in schools. He is presently Associate
Director of Vidyavanam Ashram, Bangalore)