Value Education and Life Skills

12 Jan

Should schools teach values? Can individual teachers be entrusted the delicate task of showing the path to little ones of the next generation? Are values essential to life skills, or to qualifications and certificates? Or should value building be left to the family and larger society?
Schools that are supported by religious trusts have had to tackle this issue more explicitly than others. Missionary schools offer quality education, but till they promised the larger community that their religious mission will not be paramount, they suffered lower enrolments. Some schools continue to conflate religion with values and remain restricted to ideas that were tested generations ago. Others do not teach values at all – it is not part of the curriculum, there is no time set aside for it, nor is there a column in the teacher’s lesson plan for it. The school’s self assessment plan (if they have one) does not see the need for it. These schools too may have some sort of value statement incorporated in some badge or mission statement. Others have clearly articulated values that translate to teaching practice.
It is practically impossible to teach without passing on some of the values that the teacher ascribes to. To even try to do so would be to suck the soul out of teaching. The simple act of teaching is about communicating certain values about commitment, preparation, discipline, timeliness, completeness, caring, attention curiosity, communication and many others. Value free teaching is not even possible.
Should value education ever be imposed via policy? State policy or school policy? If so, what happens when this clashes with the values of the family or community? Do we have a clash, confused children or will these multiple sets of values continue to co-exist? Do the institutional values change, or are they set in policy-stone for a long time? If they change, what do they respond to in the short term, and what do they adapt to in the long term?
Often, these very values form the basis of the decisions students make then and in later life. These embedded values then are the foundation of the life skills they build and have a direct impact on the lives they lead. Some schools consistently produce hard working children, others consistently produce leaders. Some have more bureaucrats, others foster professionals. Some schools create focused individuals, others multi-talented persons. The ‘ethos’ of the place often informs personal choices well into adulthood.
The real question here is that of governance – is it the responsibility of the institution to have clear, well designed value paradigms that inform the day to day operations of the school? Or should one trust serendipity? What is your responsibility?

This article appeared in the Times of India blog on January 4, 2012. The link is here:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: