An Approach to Value Orientation of Teachers’ Education

Abstract


This paper addresses the issue of teachers’ training for value education and its response to the demand for value education in the schools. Defining value education as education itself, the author advocates the need for the preparation of a teacher as an agent for social change, to equip him or her to deliver the quality of values as per the situation and explore the process by which children develop values essential for living in the society. Teachers need to be trained to create situations and be imaginative to reflect on that situation by making students aware of values and highlighting its need.


The demand for training of teachers in ‘value education’, often expressed as ‘value orientation of teachers’ education’ has arisen as the logical sequel to the introduction of value education in schools. To respond meaningfully to this demand, one has therefore to critically look into the curricular and other interventions being proposed towards this end at the school level. Even more important is the need to critically examine the entire rationale in forming value education.

Although there is general acceptance that education must provide a thrust on the development of values, it is not clear how this is to be achieved. Differences persist on the kind of educational interventions implied by it. In some states, separate curricular provision is made in schools for teaching values. In others, value teaching is integrated with the regular school activities. The content of value education also remains a contentious issue. While some plead for yoga, meditation and education about religions, others would like to confine themselves to 'secular' learning. Perceptions vary about the compendium of values that the schools should promote and the meaning of values like secularism and democracy. Any proposal of a value-education package is looked upon with suspicion for carrying a hidden agenda. Views also differ on what the objectives of value education should be, how it should be delivered and what role the teacher has to play in the whole process. There is also the widely shared scepticism on the effectiveness of school interventions in promoting values in the face of hostile external influences.

A similar situation characterizes 'value orientation’ of teachers’ education. So far the phrase has been taken to mean ‘add-ons’ to teachers’ education curriculum like formal teaching of values, introduction of value-oriented practical activities and training in value education methodology. This to me appears as a purely didactic response. It is also superficial and piecemeal, as it fails to look at the teachers’ education curriculum as a totality. What value orientation of teachers’ education calls for is a total qualitative transformation of its entire content and processes— educational theory, pedagogy, student teaching, training methods, organization and administration. In short, it demands the adoption of a new, values-driven philosophy of teachers’ education. The point of this

Paper is that teachers’ education, to function as an effective instrument of value education, should go beyond pat, mechanical responses and issue forth in more studied and creative actions deriving from informed understanding of all relevant aspects of value education.

Some Basic Issues

Basic to any such effort towards value orientation of teachers’ education are: understanding and appreciation of what it means to 'value educate', the integrality of education and values, the nature of the teachers’ education enterprise and the interlocking relationship between education, values and society.

Integrality of Education and Values

Values are integral to the process of education. They are not add-ons. All education is, in sense, value education. 'Value-less' or 'value neutral' education is a contradiction in terms, given the meaning of 'value' and 'education'. Education is a process of bringing about ‘desirable’ changes in the way one thinks feels and acts in accordance with one's concept of the good life. In this sense, education necessarily involves the transmission of values. Our aims of education— development of personality, pursuit of knowledge, preservation of culture, training of character—are no more than statements of our value preferences. Towards realising them we design a curriculum, a planned collection of ‘desirable’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that we wish to pass on to the younger generation. And this we do in ways that do not violate the freedom and autonomy of the learner. In other words, education, in its aims, curriculum and methods, is inseparably linked with values. The demand for value orientation of education (and teachers’ education), therefore, needs to be considered visa-vis internal reform of the objectives, content and processes of school education and teachers’ education.

Education-Schooling Divide

One of the major factors behind the demand for value education is the increasing divide between schooling and education that we are witnessing today. Education is a value and school an instrument to realise it. Education is the norm that the school activities—curricular and co-curricular—must satisfy if their object indeed is education. School activities, in other words, are not ends in themselves. Their sole justification is education.

But the grim reality facing schools today is that their agendas are determined and driven not so much by educational aims or curricular objectives as by parental pressures to give their children ‘a good start’ in life in a purely materialistic sense. Nor is the yardstick used for measuring school success and teacher performance in line with the proclaimed educational aims like knowledge and understanding, democratic citizenship, moral character, personal autonomy and creative self-expression. What is valued is efficiency with which the school prepares the child to compete for success in a market economy. Schooling has thus gradually distanced itself from its central purpose, education.

Education is not an autonomous system divorced from the overall context in which it functions. Today, as a consumer good, education also has met the same fate as other material commodities operating in a market economy driven by the profit motive. Worse, the market forces have influenced not only the production and distribution of education but its very meaning. Today education means whatever is done in the school. Whether or not it meets the education criteria is of no concern. What is lost sight of is the distinction between the value and good, and the process and substance. The issue of value education has therefore to be situated in the broader context of the commercial ethos that has led to this highly distressing divide between schooling and education. Our immediate task must be to re-examine our educational aims and restore the connection between schooling activities and educational aims. Teachers’ education, accordingly, has to be guided in its philosophy, content and processes by the principle of (re)directing the school tasks towards educational aims.

What does it mean to ‘Value Educate’?

Value education is a process of education. This means that it is a process of inducing learning. Learning is not a passive process of absorption. It involves thinking, reflecting, questioning, feeling, doing, caring, experiencing. Value education, accordingly, is not a process of authoritarian indoctrination of dogmas, exhortation or propaganda. Nor is it the direct inculcation of a body of pre-determined 'right' values in the learners through didactic approaches. The goal is not to promote passive conformity and blind obedience to whatever values are passed on, but to encourage critical and reflective thinking, rational choice and responsible behaviour, respecting the autonomy of the learner. When we are 'value educating', we are putting the learners in situations that enable them to think, to reason, to question, to reflect, to care, to feel concern, to act. The purpose is to trigger discussions and reflections, and to generate creative responses to value situations.

Value education is also education in the sense that it is education for 'becoming '. It is concerned with the development of the total personality of the individual—intellectual, social, emotional, aesthetic, moral and spiritual. It involves developing sensitivity to the good, the right and the beautiful, ability to choose the right values in accordance with the highest ideals of life and internalising and realising them in thought and action. As such the process calls into play all human faculties—knowing, feeling and doing. Not only should the learner be enabled to know the right and the good, but also to care, to feel the appropriate emotions, concern and commitment and exercise the will to do the right thing. In other words, to 'value educate' is to develop rational critical thinking, to educate the emotions, to cultivate the imagination, to strengthen will and to train character of the learner.

What Values?

Quite often the question is asked: ‘What values are to be emphasised in education’? Compendia of values are produced as claimants for curricular space. Identification of values and their classification has become an obsession and a great deal of time is spent on this aspect alone. As stated, value education is not to be viewed as authoritarian indoctrination in the 'right' values chosen a priori. The point to be noted is that the model of values to be adopted in public education should be derived from our national goals and aspirations, universal perceptions and ethical considerations bearing on character building, keeping in focus our commitment to a democratic, socialist and secular social order. The essence of value education is to enable children to be aware, to think and to reflect, to question and to criticise, to care and feel concern, to will and act on one's convictions on all that critically concern the welfare of the human kind. Human rights, rights of children, gender justice, scientific attitude, social justice, environment and 'media literacy' are some of the themes that are of particular significance to teachers’ education curriculum in the present context.

What Shall the Teacher be Trained in and for what?

This question has to be considered in the light of the purpose of value education already discussed. The purpose is to kindle the moral and aesthetic sensibilities of learners, to raise their level of value consciousness, to stimulate them to think freely and critically, to develop the ability to judge actions and events rationally, and to choose and act courageously and with conviction for the sake of the larger social good. Accordingly, the teacher has to be trained to function as an agent who stimulates, provokes, informs and sensitises the learners with reference to value situations in life. Through involving the learners actively in discussion, dialogue and practical activities, the teacher should make them think and reflect on human actions and events. The teacher should also expose students to works of art, beauty in nature, and in human relationships and actions of moral worth, and develop their moral sensibilities. The institutional processes in the training institution should help teachers acquire these capabilities by providing concrete situations and opportunities and actively involve them in appropriate learning experiences.

The general tone and ethos of the school act as a powerful source of value education. Children acquire sensitivity to values and ideals by living in and coming into contact with the school atmosphere. Such an atmosphere is not created overnight nor by teachers or pupils alone. It needs the sustained, collective efforts of all concerned with education—teachers, parents, community leaders and students. Teachers have a major role in making the school what it ought to be. They should help in creating an atmosphere of love, trust, cooperation and security in the school conducive to the development of high ideals and values. The teachers’ training experience in its totality should lead to the motivation of teachers towards the attainment of these ideals.

Value education is not a sphere of activity that is distinct from the teacher's other professional activities— teaching, guiding pupils and interacting with them, organising cocurricular activities and the like. The very nature of teaching imposes certain obligations and commitments on a teacher. Essentially, teaching is an act to bring about learning. The primary obligations of a teacher are to the learner and knowledge. These obligations of a teacher are nonnegotiable. They imply that the teacher has to understand the learner as a person as well as a learner. Regarding the former, the teacher has to love the students and be genuinely interested in their growth and development. To get them to learn, teachers have to understand the way children learn, and equip themselves with all necessary pedagogical skills to promote learning in them. They should possess the right qualities of mind and heart necessary for the pursuit of knowledge—love of knowledge, curiosity and desire to know, sincere desire to keep on learning and update knowledge, humility and honesty to admit ignorance. They should have a sound social philosophy, characterised by social sensitivity, concern for social justice and human rights. It is essential that they carry out their professional obligations in accordance with the highest standards and ethics of the teaching profession. Teachers’ education should provide sample experiences for the trainees to understand the professional code and its rationale, and ensure its honest observance by teachers and teacher educators in the training institution.

Current Approaches: A Critique

Currently various kinds of programmes, both pre-service and in-service, are being conducted for orientation and training of teachers in value education. Under one scheme, identified 'lead institutions' conduct 3-4 weeks long residential courses for teachers. Shorter duration programmes for teacher educators are also organised. Some observations on the format and content of these programmes are given below:

These programmes carry nomenclatures like ‘value-oriented teachers’ education’, ‘value education for teachers’ and so on. Their focus is on personal development of the subjects through mind-improvement techniques, prayer, yoga, meditation and relief from stress, although different value themes like scientific attitude and environment also find a place. Messages are delivered through lectures, discourses, benedictions and exhortations. The residential atmosphere adds to the tone of the programme whose main objective is to inspire the subject to live a life of peace, moral purity and spiritual development. Although such programmes contribute in their own way to the development of the trainees, from the point of the philosophy of value education enunciated in this paper, they fail to address the essential elements of value education training. First, the typical programme (as can be made out from its contents) addresses teachers and teacher educators as individuals and not as professionals having specified roles to carry out. It sidelines the ‘value educating’ functions of the teachers and teacher educators and treats them as individuals seeking spiritual perfection. It is true that the two aspects are related, but a teacher education programme in value education should be primarily concerned with the roles and functions of teacher educators as 'value educators'. It is expected to aim at the development in the trainees’ understandings, skills and attitudes as would equip them to discharge their functions as value educators.

Secondly, it misses the nub of value education, that it is a learning experience that induces one to think, reflect, feel, question, criticise, care, judge and act, and not a prescription for personal peace, tranquillity and happiness, a kind of an intellectual sedative. If we expect teachers to function as providers of such learning experiences to children in schools, it behoves on trainers of teachers (and teacher educators) to provide similar experiences to their trainees. Attempting to 'train' teachers and teacher educators through discourses and exhortations will not go far in making them effective teachers of value.

Also, the programmes do not derive from a well-articulated rationale and are not situated in the contemporary social and educational context. Teachers and teacher educators are to be prepared as value educators with reference to the concrete realities in which they have to function. These may be: the state of school education and teachers’ education; the curriculum and the manner in which it is transacted; the goals and values that the schools pursue and their compatibility with educational aims; the role expectations from teachers and teacher educators; the actualities, the atmosphere of the school and the training institution; and the processes of management, administration and a host of other factors that go to make the school and the training institution what they are. It is important to note here that all the committees and commissions have referred to value education in the concrete context of national goals on the basis of analysis of the educational and social situations. The point is that a programme of teachers’ training in value education should be rooted in the realities of school and teachers’ education, with greater emphasis on values like justice, equality, compassion, cooperation and human rights.

Manner of Value Orientation of Teachers’ Education

Restoring 'Education' Dimension to Teachers’ Training

Teachers’ education, like education, is essentially a value-laden activity concerned with the development of the 'total' teacher. The conceptual shift from 'training' to 'education' emphasises a drastic qualitative change in its orientation—from the training of teacher as a craftsperson to the development of a humane teacher well-versed in the arts and science of helping children to learn and grow. The new demand of 'value orientation' only underscores that the entire teachers’ education process—objectives, curriculum, methods and materials—exhibit these broader goals both in form and substance. It is not a call for adding on more and more things to what we are already doing even as we continue with our old ways. It is a call for doing whatever we are doing in a new light, with an explicit

Consciousness and appreciation of their value implications. It is a call for total qualitative reform in the management, administration and delivery of our teachers’ education programmes. If the philosophy contained in the account given above of value education is acted upon, the entire teachers’ education curriculum—educational foundations, pedagogical theory and practice—and the host of other activities that form the routine of a teachers’ education programme would be seen in a new light.

Teaching of Educational Theory

Teachers’ education has to renew and update educational theory taught to trainees with reference to such issues as globalisation, peace, media, culture and democracy. Some of the questions that need to be addressed are: What does the knowledge society and the new information order mean for teachers’ education? What aims shall it pursue and what role shall it play in the preparation of teachers? Should the aims of teachers’ education undergo a change in orientation? In what ways? How important is knowledge as an aim of education? How shall the divide between schooling and education be confronted? How shall one deal with a situation in which the values and ethos of the IT society—efficiency, utility and economy—pose a danger to the pursuit of knowledge as an intrinsic end? How shall the challenge of globalisation to culture and values be addressed? The educational foundations package of philosophy, sociology and history can act as a power house, when used with discretion, of value-centered discussions.

Creative Responses to Materials and Methods

One also expects from teachers’ education creative responses to issues relating to curriculum, materials and teaching methods in value education. So far the response has been stereotyped, adding a new course or topics or providing for training in 'methodology of value education'. But the need is to break away from such formal and didactic solutions. We should be on the look out for more creative, innovative ways of dealing with curriculum, methods and materials. The essential point to be kept in mind is that the learning experiences to be provided to the children in schools and to trainees in the training programmes, mutatis mutandis, should make them to think, to care, to reflect, to reason, to feel, to question. Value oriented teachers’ education would then mean a process of training teachers in the conceiving and designing of methods and materials that 'talk' and interact with children and their imaginative use with them. Student teaching in cooperating schools, probably organised as internship, provides the best 'real life' opportunity for the teacher educators and the trainees to acquire these skills.

School Curriculum: The Source of Values

If value education is planned as educational action aimed at the development of the learner's personality, the most obvious way of implementing it would be to look into the processes of education itself—its aims, curriculum and methods—instead of searching for solutions from outside. Such critical probe into the contents and processes of education would yield us valuable insights into the nature of learning experiences that they contain, and their axiological features. The proper teaching of a subject thus involves not merely the passing on of information contained in the subject but, even more importantly, inculcating in the student certain qualities of mind and heart involved in the pursuit of that discipline. This, however, does not mean that the different academic disciplines are to be overtly used as instruments of value education, but only those students should be made aware of the interface between knowledge and value. Teachers’ training should enable teachers to broaden their understanding of school subjects and look at them in a holistic manner and not just as a body of cold facts.

Conclusion

There are different ways in which teachers’ education can respond to curricular changes at the school level. At the first level, there is the purely knee-jerk response of taking any recommended reform as a sacred 'given' and translating it into an add-on through a content or methodology course. Secondly, the response is based on a broad understanding of the suggested intervention but again confined to the introduction of any course. The idea itself remains unquestioned. A third way of responding would be not to uncritically accept the proposed change but to submit it to critical inquiry, study what it means to the entire process of teachers’ education and work out its implications in the light of a well articulated rationale and philosophy. It is such studied and informed response that should come forth from teachers’ education to the demand for its value orientation. Thus, the core message of value education for teachers and teacher educators is not that they should do extra or additional things but that they should do whatever they are expected to do by their calling— teaching, testing, and relating to the community, parents and students—with a sense of commitment, sincerity and dedication. The professional ethics for teachers is in itself a complete programme of value education for teachers. This message must be conveyed in 'loud and clear' terms through all teacher education programmes.

By - C. SESHADRI