IntroductionIn a world where purely commercial considerations overshadow international politics, the development of nations becomes a big issue of importance. Various factors have made the transfer of Technology and capital to various parts of the world to capture different markets in different countries. These markets provide such a wide range of goods and services. While this is indeed a positive development, when profit becomes the sole objective of any kind of human activity, across the world, there has been a sharp decline in values.
In other words, the ends justify the means. Or so is the main thought process of a vast majority of people. However, the younger generation needs to be systematically trained in the nuances of what is right and what should be done to make the world a much better place to live in.
This is exactly where moral instruction comes in. Its importance can be easily understood if we focus on
Enabling a comprehensive world view of issuesWe have seen it all. All of us know about the major issues confronting the entire world. Environmental degradation, Negative influences of bad habits, corruption, different inequalities, plundering natural resources to develop industries and so on. Moral instruction should awaken the conscience of any school or college student and enable him or her to appreciate the total picture that emerges when they start understanding the core issues. For example, today, there are forests being destroyed to make way for industries. The tribals are displaced. Their rights to livelihood are threatened. Hence, while livelihoods are destroyed, some new employment opportunities are created for the local people and this will include the tribals as well. However, what is most important is to develop new forest areas or attempt to green existing forests. This will enable the country to maintain some balance. The starting point is doing something.
What is really very good are the efforts of some schools and colleges to initiate a fairly extensive tree planting campaign. This results in the formation of goof attitudes, particularly when there is an appreciation and deep understanding of the issue from all points of view. Development is never a chicken or the egg issue. We need both. That is, we need development without much damage to the environment. Moral instruction can play a vital role in this process.
Explaining one's role in any given situationThe teacher should explain to a fourth standard student as to how he or she can also protect the environment by carrying a cloth bag or a jute bag to carry the groceries from the nearby provision store. This moral instruction is more important than mere lectures. When the student does a small activity, he or she will start believing in the benefits and hence become a more responsible citizen.
Never making compromises on valuesAny school or college student should develop a good habit of following basic values. For example, the child should be taught that honesty is always the best policy. Some four years ago, I saw a mother take her five-year-old son to a vegetable shop nearby. However, the mother took the child to only one shop. She told him to observe how the shopkeeper was so honest with what he did. He would weigh each quantity and there would be absolute accuracy and customer satisfaction. To help her child understand, she would take the small quantity to a nearby grocery store and ask the shopkeeper to demonstrate the weight. It would exactly be the same 500 grams. I have not seen any mother training her child on such values. Her husband, a banker, would not even accept any diary given by his customers. The mother was a housewife and always talked only about positive things. Hence, when values are distilled in the mindsets of students in different ways, a better understanding of their importance is likely to be a part of the process of character building of such students.
Of course, the ecosystem of whatever the students see around them, should be supportive of the good values being taught at any given point in time. The congruence of values should always be more than the average mean scores of the value.
Providing enough information on choices and possibilitiesIf the students are taught about all positive possibilities and choices, they are likely to understand what is best for them. Let us take a hypothetical situation. During the annual Pongal or what is called the Sankararanthi festival, travel from one place to another becomes a big problem. The Omni bus fellows hike up the fares by over one hundred percent. The trains are overcrowded. One can bribe the ticket examiner in trains to secure a berth. However, this is unethical and goes against all decent values.
The teacher should teach the student that he could split his journey and take two different Government buses that are available. When this happens, the student need not pay extra or bribe anyone. Yes. The short-term inconvenience is always there. However, a bit of rest can jolly well solve this problem and we will all get back to our normal routines. Corruption results only when a huge majority of citizens use or discover new short cuts to get things done. Values result and get settled in place, only when there is no compromise on values, as explained earlier.
Net banking is another such practice. In the good old days, people would even bribe the banking staff to "get their work done". Today, all this is gone. One does not have to visit the branch of the bank at all. This is a possibility. The teacher should explain all such possibilities to any student of the eighth standard and above standards in schools and all college students. When we know of all possibilities and choices, we then become get prepared for value-based action.
Making the core philosophies of religions clear to allThis is also important in today's conditions. Every religion is precious. Every religion teaches love, compassion and tolerance. And respect for all human beings, irrespective of caste or color or religion or region or even nationality. Today, anyone working in the Information Technology industry, for example, would interact with Germans and Americans at work. Tolerance of different cultural traits and habits is absolutely essential. When the students are taught about the good and the positives of different religions, they would sort of automatically accumulate positive thoughts in their minds, thus resulting in far better outcomes at all times.
ConclusionGiven the complexities of whatever happens in the world at this point in time, training of the minds of students in schools and colleges to assimilate and accumulate positive thoughts and values that have stood the test of time, is absolutely essential. Based on experience and some observations, some ideas have been discussed above. Hopefully, these ideas will enable a positive move on, at some point in time. And when that happens, the results can also be seen.
It is really an important issue. Molding primary and high school students is easier than molding students in colleges and institutions of higher learning. It is easy to straighten a plant than a tree. So, it is a necessity to teach the importance of morals and ethics to students in school. In earlier days, students used to have two or three periods in a week on moral instructions. But these days in private schools, I think such periods are not there.
Today's students are tomorrow's citizens. Hence teaching moral instructions will be very useful for them so that tomorrow's society will be a better society to live in. If the teachers are successful in that pursuit we can see a reduction in corruption and other evil acts in society tomorrow.
The co-existence of people from different faiths is a necessity and teachers should teach the importance of tolerance towards other religions without any reservations or bias. We can establish a peaceful society only by taking such steps.
Moral instruction sessions has got a great role to play. We all know that students are given academic and practical training in educational institutions. But that alone is not sufficient to make them good citizens of the country. They are also to be told general things about life and its complexities and how to go about that. Moral teaching is not limited to just preaching. It is more than that. It is actually to prepare the student for taking up the issues in the future in a correct perspective. They must understand what is right and what is wrong.
In my view, moral teaching should also be associated with some social work in and around the institute campus. There are already some schemes like the National Service Scheme going on in the education institutes which are getting this objective met to some extent. So, a combination of theoretical moral lectures along with practical social work will create a real awakening in the students and they will become good citizens of the country in due course.