“Education is not the amount of information put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested all your life. We must have life building, man making, and character making assimilation of ideas. The ideal, therefore, is that we must have the whole education of our country spiritual and secular, in our own hands and it must be on national methods as far as practical.”
How Values Get Instilled in Students
The students of today are the citizens and leaders of tomorrow. They are the building blocks for a good society. We cannot have a good society without good human beings. Hence, a teacher’s responsibility is not just to impart knowledge in the classroom. It is also the teacher’s responsibility to mould the desirable characteristics and moral values of students.
Children get taught the right values from an early age. By the time they enter kindergarten, they have already been taught a few values by their parents. But for many children the other most important influence on their emerging value system is their teacher. This is not surprising given that a child spends as much time during the school year with her teacher as she does with her parents.
Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as value-free education. Teachers are communicating values to their students all the time, and not just through lessons or the teaching materials. The teacher’s appearance, speech, manner of relating with students, sense of humor—all teach lessons to students about ways of acting, thinking, and feeling. For instance, a teacher who encourages a child to handle a problem on her own is promoting the value of self-reliance and independent thinking.
What Values to Instill in Students
Different teachers emphasize different values. Some stress on being courteous and kind to classmates; others think obedience and respect of authority are important; some prioritize being dependable and responsible; and still others want you to think for yourself and stand up for your beliefs.
To be sure, without being controversial, here are some desirable characteristics and moral values that need to be instilled in students by the teachers:
1. Honesty and Integrity
Honesty and integrity are essential for the leading of a good life. As the saying goes, “Honesty is the best policy”. And that is true for anyone and everyone at whatever stage of life they are and in whatever profession. Students should be taught to not cheat on tests, not to copy other students’ homework, and not to tell lies either at school or anywhere else. A teacher should set an example by herself being honest in all her dealings with the class. Ideally, students should get to hear stories about honesty, and how dishonesty is ultimately not rewarded.
2. Love for Learning
A teacher should motivate the students to be engaged fully in learning. This can be done by the right attitude, demeanor, classroom atmosphere created, incorporation of diverse learning materials such as audiovisual aids and online resources, and a friendly and cheerful presence of the teacher.
3. Hard Work
Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Even if a student is very smart and intelligent, without hard work she will not get by very far in her academics and in her life in general. Students should be taught to overcome their lazy habits by making them work hard by giving assignments from time to time and expecting them to complete them on time. Students who work hard should be rewarded by compliments, such as “excellent” or “nicely done”, on assignments and tests. The names of the students excelling in curricular and extracurricular activities should be posted on the classroom bulletin board.
4. Curiosity and Willingness to Ask Questions
Curiosity is a vital ingredient in students because it will make them explore things around them and also delve deep into the subjects they are exposed to at school. Also, too many students are only too willing to accept everything their teacher says or they read in a textbook; they do not question its veracity. They have never learned how to ask questions to clarify their understanding about a topic they are studying. So, the teacher should opt for a student-centered classroom and encourage the students to ask questions by explicitly asking them if they have any from time to time.
5. Being Responsible
Once they grow up, the students have to take on various jobs and roles where they are responsible for a great many things and will be held accountable. So, the sooner they learn about what it means to shoulder responsibility the better off they will be in the long-run. Students should be held responsible and accountable for being punctual to class, doing assignments on time, making up missed assignments, etc. The teacher also should set a good example by being punctual to class and being well-prepared for all his/her classes. There should be rewards and punishments to ensure the responsibility and accountability of students. The punishments could be ones such as staying on after school or doing extra assignments.
6. Good Manners and Etiquette
In any walk of life, a person who is well-mannered and well-behaved is liked by all. So, students should be taught to be polite to their classmates and teachers in school. They should not disturb the class by, say, talking loud in class or moving out of their seats without the teacher’s explicit permission. Here, too, the teachers can and should set an example by being polite themselves to other teachers and students. If a student is displaying bad manners, he should be taught to be better. Every student should learn to say “thank you”, “please”, “sorry” etc. in appropriate contexts and situations.
Without self-esteem one is at the mercy of the opinions of others and society. Students must learn to love themselves and take pride in their personality and accomplishments. They must have self-confidence and feel good about themselves. The teacher can help the students along this dimension by showing concern and love for the student, and give them attention and every opportunity to succeed. The teacher should also boost students’ self-esteem with appropriate compliments and rewards.
8. Cooperating with Others
Teamwork is the order of the day in most occupations and jobs these days. So, the students must be taught to cooperate and work with others. This can be done by having them participate in discussion groups and working together on projects.
9. Being Helpful and Kind
Being kind and helpful to our fellow human beings is of utmost importance for a society to function well. Students can be made to learn these qualities by making them engage in such behaviors as erasing the board for the teacher or helping him or her pass out books and papers. The students can also be made to tutor weaker students in the class.
10. Being Civic-Minded
Civic-mindedness is a desirable characteristic for everyone in society. The school is a good place to cultivate civic responsibility. Students should be expected to keep their premises clean and not litter the classroom or school playgrounds. They should be encouraged to volunteer to do small chores for the class or school, such as carrying benches and chairs to be set up for a school assembly. Students should be shown films on pollution and global warming, which topics should then be discussed.
If the teachers neglect to instill the above values in their students, they will be doing a great disservice to the society and nation. Without such values, all we will have on our hands is a disordered and ill-functioning society where deviant or even illegal and criminal behavior is the norm.
Call to Action
Many people consider “Business Ethics” to be an oxymoron. But, we at Butterfly Fields believe differently. We have in place a robust mechanism to instill in our workforce a deep sense of moral values to which they adhere under all circumstances. If you are interested in learning the methodologies, techniques and programs we use to instill those values in our staff, then please contact us.