Course names like ‘Jeevan Vidya’ and ‘Art of Living’ have always puzzled me. Can you teach someone how to live? The world would have been a happy place if you could do so. The internalization of values happens early in life. In the modern times, schools have usurped much of the jurisdiction of the family. I mean, schools and teachers play a very important role in interning values in us. This does not mean that the traditional role of family in socialization has become obsolete. Many of the religious values are picked up from the family. The environment in the family also reinforces the values taught at school. In families where such reinforcement is not present, the internment of ‘good’ values is less.
Having described the importance of value education in schools, the need for value education is also felt in the universities of higher education. Why is value education important in universities when there is a notion that the pupils have attained maturity? One has to realize that universities are the important link between childhood and professional life. Time and again, the utility of the good values have to be made felt so that the good values that students have gained over years are not discarded. Also, maturity here is used in the legal sense where every person having attained an age of 18 years is considered mature. But, this is the age when there is a greater risk of people giving up their values due to the informal peer pressure. I need not describe the influence of this informal group. All that I can say is that this informal group tends to influence an individual more than the formal family in many cases.
What are the values that we are speaking about? These values are punctuality, honesty, respect towards elders, common cultural sense, etc. A university life and freedom does not empower students to sit in uncompromising positions in an academic area. There are limits to the expression of love in our culture and even married men and women desist from doing certain things in public. With the presence of such elements who do not have this common cultural sense, we also have moral policing by certain groups. Now, how can we say that moral policing is bad when we also agree that we need a certain discipline in our culture.
What adds to the trouble is the on-campus residential requirement of many institutes of repute. Such requirements mean that the students are no longer under the social control of the family. The head of the family is not aware of the happenings in his ward’s life. It is such a situation that makes the job of the teachers in such institutes more challenging. A teacher is required not only to impart technical education (which the lifeless books and internet also could have done) but also to reinforce the ‘good’ values. The universities cannot shed their responsibility by saying that they are not interested in moral policing. The degradation of values has become much more rampant due to commercialization of education where students are treated as clients and education is treated as a source of revenue. A university does not exist to ‘satisfy’ a student. It exists to create a personality out of a student.