Development of values takes place during the process of socialization. Socialization always occurs in a context. Since socio-cultural milieu is different for different societies, differences in cultures are reflected in the values. . As a modern Indian sociologist, Ander Beteille, remarks:
“An institution has meaning and legitimacy for its members only when they acknowledge its moral claims over them, at least some of the time, even when those demands are contrary to their individual interests.
There are layers of contexts according to the ecological perspective. The smallest of the context in which the child lives and moves is the immediate family, school teachers and peers and the neighborhood play area etc. Another layer of context is the direct involvement of individuals affecting such as parent’s interaction with neighbors etc. Still the wider context relates to the broader community in which the child lives. Examples are family net work, mass media, work places, family friends. Though the child might not have direct contact but the different layers of systems affect the child’s development and socialization. Each layer of context interacts making a highly complex context in which the child grows up. As people affect a child so the child has an influence on them. Nothing ever remains static. As the child grows, the contexts also change which influence the child’s attitudes, behavior, values etc.
Values are learnt as we learn habits in the process of growing up. Learning of values takes place quite early in life by the word of mouth or simple commands from parents and other adults at home. In early years of life, prohibitions and parent identifications are the source of values. For example, an 18 months old child seizes the lid of a sugar bowl on the table followed by loud and frightening admonitions of ‘No’. The child runs far to a corner of the room, closes his eyes and holds the lid in front of his face to protect himself. The mother retrieves the lid, scolds the child, the child throws tantrums. When the tantrum subsides, the child then looks at the offended mother looking for re-acceptance. At this stage, there are certain emotional states experienced by the child like impulse, fright, frustration, anger, each having a specific stimulus and terminating condition. The child does not comprehend the why of this behaviour/act. He/she only experiences certain kind of emotions and feelings.
The case of a little older three year old child, what it says about the role of parental identification assumes importance. On scolding by the father, to remain in bed till 7’o clock, the child obeys to be in bed till seven o’clock. She does as ordered but cannot help doing other things while in the bed which distracts the father. So again, she gets scolding from the father. At this stage the external voice of authority is exerting pressure to obey. After a few repetitions of this kind of experience, the child learns that it is not right because father is saying ‘to be quiet’ and ‘to be in bed’ so she learns to be obedient on simple commands from the father.
In this process, children, quickly learn which behavior are approved and which ones are not, which are likely to bring rewards and which might lead to punishment. They attach notions of good or bad, right and wrong to different acts and behaviors. Reward and punishment, approval and disapproval act as positive or negative reinforces. The nature of association positive or negative and its frequency is thus important to form a value. When the end result leads to appreciation, positive association forms but when the end result gives rise to pain, suffering, destruction etc., negative associations are formed with a particular act, idea or behavior. The person tends to repeat the act or behavior which serves the desired end. When these are repeated under favorable conditions of reinforcement, they form into habits and get deeply ingrained as strong behavioral tendencies. Initially, there may not be any conceptualization but later such learning may be transferred from one particular situation to another. When students are made to judge themselves the worth of prioritized activity, situation or an idea by independent appraisal and reflection, the internalization of values takes place.
Values are truly internalized, if there is a shift from fear of punishment, whether external or self administered to an experience of value related obligation. There is a shift from ‘must consciousness to ought consciousnesses’. In ‘must – consciousness, there is a sense of compulsion. But in ought consciousness there is the sense of obligation.
‘Ought’ is not the same as ‘must’. The ‘must’ statements like ‘I must be careful’, ‘I must obey traffic’ regulations, I must not give way to anger reflect compulsions where as statements like I ought to pick up litter around, ‘I ought to take care of my parents’, ‘ought to respect my elders’, reflect the sense of obligation rather than fear or compulsion. The experience of “ought” while making a choice relates to one’s self image. Violation of some value is then considered as falling short of self image.
In the course of shift from ‘must consciousness to ought consciousness’ there is a change from (a) External sanctions to internal (b) from experiences of prohibition, fear and way to experiences of preference and self respect and (c) from specific habits of obedience to self guidance and the broad schemata of values providing direction to one’s conduct and behavior.
The process of educating students for values is a process of inducing critical and reflective thinking, rationale choice and responsible behaviour. When we are educating students for values we are enabling them to think, to reason, to question and reflect, to care, feel concerned and to act accordingly. As has been aptly pointed out “Values are developed not by forcing people to memorize words by letting them to talk, ventilate the issues and search for their own values”.
It is therefore important that during the process of socialization at home and school, deliberate attempts are made to promote awareness, understanding, sensitivity, appreciation, reflection thinking about what is good or bad, right or wrong and why it is right or wrong then responsible choice making/decision making, willingness and commitment to follow desirable values is likely to take place naturally. When rationale approach is not there shortcuts seem viable. The human mind then make comprises with the immoral behavior and acts. It is only well-reasoned acceptance of values which ultimately strengthens internalization because this acceptance is based on a deeply felt belief that a particular way of behaving or doing is right and just not only for self but also for common good. Values acquired through this process can be sustained in the long run when rationale approach is not there, shortcuts seem viable. The human mind then makes comprises with the immoral behavior and acts.
It is true that there are cultural variations in approaches towards human development in general and values development in particular. But in general there are less examples of guided learning in fostering of values. Analyzing some features of the socialization process in Indian children, some psychologists point out that, by and large, parents encourage dependency and seldom provide opportunities to the children to solve problems and make decisions. There is excessive use of don'ts in guiding behaviour. Hence models of direct instructions and impositions are more prevalent. It is true that values, habits and attitudes are acquired through imitation, emulation, intention, instruction and guided learning during the course of child development. But their emphasis may vary with different stages and in different cultures.
These variations reflect different theories of child learning and consequent level of adult involvement in their development. Some believe that nature provides for learning, as it does for growing and that adult participation is not required in the process. The assumption is that learning occurs through maturation. Some believe that children need guidance to learn complex, tasks and values and that children might eventually learn habits and skills, but adult intervention will enable children acquire attitudes, values and skills more rapidly and efficiently. This practice is based on guided learning. Still others believe that in some situations learning opportunities must be created. This practice is formal with high level of adult’s involvement.
Hence the question of how values are formed are related to stages of development, the cultural contexts, the beliefs and theories about child’s learning and levels of adult’s involvement. However, the point to be remembered is that value education is not value imposition. The ownership and development of values lies with the learner. Educators may impose their values and may succeed in making the learner articulate the values but the learner may not live values when out of the learning environment. Therefore, it is important to heighten learner's self-awareness to examine, to discern, to prioritize and imbibe values in one's life. It is only well reasoned acceptance of values which ultimately strengthens internalization, moving from self-awareness to self direction and acting on one's values consciously and responsibly. The educators’ role is therefore (1) to facilitate the learners awareness, (2) to help them examine their choices and preferences, (3) enable them have dialogue on value issues and (4) expand their ways of looking at things, understanding situations and events (5) and act according to their well thought and responsible decisions
Despite considerable progress made, our society is shaken by conflicts, corruption and violence. There has been distortion in our value system. Wherever we look, we find falsehood and corruption. Majority of us are interested in our own families and not interested in fulfilling our responsibilities to society. Although erosion of values existed throughout the history of human existence and is shared by all cultures but current degeneration of values has become a matter of great concern in our country. The typical examples of value erosions are: people have become greedy and selfish. Honesty has begun to disappear in the society. Violence has become the order of the day. Corruption, abuse and power have become more common.
The problem of declining values is multi dimensional arising out of combination of major social forces such as globalization, materialism, consumerism, commercialization of education, threats to humanity due to climatic changes, environmental degradation, violence, and terrorism. These have led to insecurities, individualistic life styles, and acceleration of desires, misuse of science and technology, pessimisms, sense of alienation and other negative consequences.
Family and educational institutions are the microcosms of the world. The disorder of the world surfaces to schools in many ways. The state of growing up of children and youth in our country has changed and is further changing fast. We do not need scientific surveys to tell us what our own eyes and ears are revealing. The number of dysfunctional families have grown. Mass media has senselessly gripped the generation X, and assaults them with information, views and prejudice in a manner that young minds can hardly discern or judge. While the questioning attitude and critical thinking needs to be encouraged in children, we find that many young people and students, treat teachers with disrespect and question out of arrogance and see it as a way of questioning authority. A hurry-up society often lacks a sense of community and fraternity. Peers exert powerful influence on values development. Drug abuse, irresponsible sexual behaviour, vandalism, commercialization, stealing, cheating, confusion between heroes and celebrities as role model is witnessed more often than ever before.
In the real world, both values and institutions matter. Values are needed to serve as guiding stars, and they exist in abundance in our society. A sense of right and wrong is intrinsic to our culture and civilization. But values need to be sustained by institutions to be durable and to serve as an example to others. Values without institutional support will soon be weakened and dissipated. Institutions provide the container, which gives shape and content to values. This is the basis of all statecraft and laws and institutions. While incentives and institutions matter for all people, they are critical in dealing with the army of public servants– elected or appointed – endowed with authority to make decisions and impact on human lives and exercising the power to determine allocation of resources. Public office and control over public purse offer enormous temptation and opportunity to promote private gain at public cost. Therefore, creation of institutions and designing of incentives are of utmost importance in promoting ethical conduct of public servants.
A most important reason for inculcating values from family, society and educational institution is the fact that the current socialization process and the ambience contributes to the lopsided development of individuals. This model of world view puts exclusive focus on cognitive to the total neglect of the affective domain and presents alienation between head and heart. Society is the empowering context for individuals. No one can become fully human or attain dignity and fulfillment outside the web of relationships and responsibilities presupposed in society
Individuals right from their childhood days are nurtured in a spirit of excessive competition and are trained right from the beginning to relate to aggressive competition and facts detached from contexts. The individualistic idea of excellence is promoted at the cost of emotional and relational skills.
Young learners hardly understand the very essence of family and other similar social and educational institutions in pursuit of academic excellence to survive in the cut throat competition. They hardly know how they should live their lives; commit themselves to the welfare of the country, care about the environment and other social and moral issues. Such a perspective defeats the very purpose of education - the wholesome development of personality including ethical development which is fundamental for making responsible decision making in case of moral conflicts. Education at all the level these days has become synonymous with employability, preparation for the word of work; less and less consideration is given to the subject of education i.e. individual student and his/her full development as a human being.
When Maharaja Sangram Singh (popularly known as Rana Sanga) of Chittor died (1527 AD), his son Uday Singh was a little baby. Rana Sanga had appointed Banveer to be the regent who would be a guardian of the little prince till he grew up and took over the reign of the kingdom. Banveer however had a different idea. He planned to kill the baby prince so that he could himself be the king forever. Panna Dai (nanny) use to take care of the little prince. When she came to know that Banveer was coming to kill the would-be king, she did something that defies all human instincts. She sent the baby prince to safety and replaced him with her own little baby. Banveer beheaded Panna’s son, but the little prince remained unharmed.
Analysis: This is the perfect example of deontological ethics. Wherein, Panna Dai put her duty (to protect the prince) above all the selfish and personal interests.
Gandhiji went from city to city, village to village collecting funds for the Charkha Sangh. During one of his tours he addressed a meeting in Orissa. After his speech a poor old woman got up. She was bent with age, her hair was grey and her clothes were in tatters. The volunteers tried to stop her, but she fought her way to the place where Gandhiji was sitting. "I must see him," she insisted and going up to Gandhiji touched his feet. Then from the folds of her sari she brought out a copper coin and placed it at his feet. Gandhiji picked up the copper coin and put it away carefully. The Charkha Sangh funds were under the charge of Jamnalal Bajaj. He asked Gandhiji for the coin but Gandhiji refused. "I keep cheques worth thousands of rupees for the Charkha Sangh," Jamnalal Bajaj said laughingly "yet you won't trust me with a copper coin." "This copper coin is worth much more than those thousands," Gandhiji said. "If a man has several lakhs and he gives away a thousand or two, it doesn't mean much. But this coin was perhaps all that the poor woman possessed. She gave me all she had. That was very generous of her. What a great sacrifice she made. That is why I value this copper coin more than a crore of rupees.
Analysis: This is also the perfect example of deontological ethics. Wherein, the intention of the poor women and not the value (utility) she is contributing is considered as supreme.