Values are essential beliefs that help us to regulate our day-to-day attitudes and behaviour and serve as broad guidelines in all situations. Values influence our perception. Common examples of values are loyalty, equality, justice and sources are family, peers, society, school, media, and religion.
Values education can enhance the cultural factor within a person. The new NCF (2015) lays much emphasis on values Education to instill sound values in children to help them become responsible citizens. Hereby, the affective domain of learning will be addressed to develop learners socially, personally, physically and cognitively. There has been a shift from a quantitative performance based education system.
Learners acquire values through what they hear, see, read and experience. Ultimately, importance is given to the innate values of their role models who are normally their parents or teachers. So these persons should reflect on their own values and think about how they will translate the same into curricular content and the learning environment. They should reflect on the teaching strategies they will use, like drama, drawing, painting, collage, and storytelling or by enacting real life experiences, so that it becomes easy for the learners to put them into practice. Therefore teachers will act as guide to the students in adopting a true approach to values education. Below are only some of the aims of values education in relation with the new NCF which will be discussed.
Learning outcomes at the end of Grade 1 to 6 (NCF)
● Identify some values our society upholds
Our society upholds certain values like honesty, compassion, respect for the elderly among many others. It is worth teaching children that honesty starts towards oneself. For example, when they are given homework they should be honest enough to do it themselves instead of having them done by someone else like their parents or siblings. At school, children should be taught to be compassionate and caring to their friends, helping them in needs like if someone does not have a pencil, it is good to lend one. This will develop both empathy and sympathy in them. Today, at school, some children can be seen not having respect for their teachers, they refuse to abide by the rules set by the teacher or talk rudely to their teachers. Thus, it is necessary to teach children about respect as well as honesty and compassion.
● Describe what is good and wrong
Children at a tender age are not able to differentiate between right and wrong. For example, if a child is hungry, he will eat something he has brought to school. However, if a hungry child does not have anything to eat and he takes the bread of his classmate; in his opinion, there is nothing wrong in it. However, children should be taught that taking someone’s belonging without his permission is a bad thing. Other examples include being punctual, well disciplined, being trustworthy, forgiving, tolerant and generous which are all good actions and attitudes that one should possess. On the contrary, tardiness, misconduct, feeling jealous over quality or achievement of someone else, getting angry over petty issues, being aggressive and vindictive, using foul language are elements that are considered wrong and thus should be avoided.
● Understand their responsibilities at home
It is good to entrust children some responsibilities at home. Helping mothers in the kitchen or in cleaning the home, helping fathers washing the car or cleaning the yard, being sent on errands are examples of responsibilities that children can fulfil at home. Undoubtedly, it is parents who are primarily required to make their children become responsible. However, at school also, teachers can inculcate this value in them to be implemented at their domicile. For example, as students, there are some responsibilities that children should carry out at home like doing their homework and doing regular revision. Hence, it is vital for teachers to make children understand their responsibilities at home. By monitoring their homework and doing frequent assessments, teachers can ensure that the children assume their responsibilities at home.
● Understand their responsibilities in the classroom and at school
All students have the right to an education in an environment that is conducive to learning. So, they must become aware of certain responsibilities like respecting all staff members and fellow students. They should conduct themselves in a manner that does not disrupt the teaching and learning process in the class. They should be prepared for class with the appropriate materials and take care of all textbooks assigned to them as well as their personal property. Students are required to complete all classwork, respect school property and school facilities like the library or computer room. They are bound to arrive at school on time and follow all the school’s regulations like seeking permission from their teacher in order to leave the classroom. These are some responsibilities that children should be aware of.
● Demonstrate good citizenship behaviours
Littering has always been a common action of human beings despite being aware that it pollutes our surroundings and it causes harm to the natural beauty of our environment. Ultimately, it is of utmost importance to teach the young generation that they should protect the environment. They should avoid littering and sensitize their parents to do the same. Concerning protection of the environment, children should be encouraged to plant trees to fight against the misbalance in our eco system. Besides, at school level, children should learn how to protect public property. For example, they should not write on the walls of the classroom or break school property like tables, chairs or window panes. If they adopt such behaviours in the class, it will remain with them throughout their lives.
Hence, the primary curriculum finds it vital for children to learn about social values and values for their personal development and their character building as well as for their self-confidence and their behaviours.
In the era of globalization, a big question mark has been put on values. Everything has reached its peak except moral values. The degradation of moral values in children refer to a lack of honesty, sincerity, respect, humanity etc. Children are becoming more and more selfish. Parents are teaching children to give more importance to marks, grades, awards, honours and the bookish knowledge is only helping the children to achieve their goal to some extent. Nationalism, family, society and morality hold less significance. Social interactions have decreased drastically. Consequently, Education without value is very harmful. We need to inculcate moral values in children for their holistic development and to tackle the disintegration of social relations. This will help them to develop positive attitudes in children and would prompt them to fight social evils.
Teachers play a great role in redressing the situation where disintegrating values have been headlines. Through positive approach teachers need to make children realise the importance of values. Teachers need to teach children how lack of humanism would be dangerous for the development of the society. In different areas of study, teachers can promote values like love, peace, good will and understanding. Teachers should exhibit core values like honesty, sincerity, truthfulness, secular outlook, good temperament, compassion and positive thinking. Teachers have a great impact on children; they can shape a child\'s personality and character and through them children can be aware of their responsibilities of being a good citizen. Teachers should refrain from belittling a child and should motivate a child through positive comments and constructive criticism. This will help children to develop moral values, good habits and good thinking skills. They also need to develop socialization skills in children so that the latter interact with their friends, other children without any discrimination. Teachers should be the role models to develop moral values in children.
“School has been identified as a vehicle of direct instruction.”(Pekausky 1998). It is a social institution where norms, customs, values and ways of thinking prevail and it plays a valuable role in preparing children morally to meet challenges of their everyday life. To realise this, the school needs to contemplate upon factors which will influence children\'s development. Parents and community groups should be integrated in them. Since children easily fall prey to the outer world, the school should provide an environment which will give children opportunities to use their moral reasoning.
The curriculum should devise plans and sufficient materials to create an awareness of moral education in them. A curriculum-oriented moral education should be infused with: problem-based learning, group discussions and using topics including moral issues. In this way, the curriculum evaluates the traditional approaches to the teaching of values. Sometimes the traditional approach need to be put aside with the evolution of technology and a new approach should be implemented which caters to the needs of children and bring them out of their lost virtual world.
Parents also play a vital role in shaping the character of children by exhibiting model behaviours. Parents can even negate certain code of conduct which are contrary to their positive set of behaviours. The approach of parents has a great influence on how the child receive information related to moral issues. If the adult gives proper care, attention and affection to the child, it would convey the moral message to the child. Parents\' interaction with the kids aids in the building up of moral development in the children. Parents should explain the reasons for rules and they should respond appropriately to violation of those rules. For example, parents can stimulate children to reflect on their actions. This implies that the more explicit parents are about why a behaviour is expected or a misdeed is wrong, the more effective the messages might be, particularly for young children. (Grusec and Goodness 1994). It is an undeniable fact that parents are the first role models of moral and values to the children.
Religions preaching about right and wrong, good and bad play an integral part in the moral development of children. Moral teachings have always been an important factor in every religion though religions might differ. For instance, The Bible is a book of ethical teachings for Christians and The Holy Qur\'an is the Muslims’ code of conduct. Verily the importance of religious institutions in imparting moral lessons in children is accepted in all communities.
More emphasis should be put on values education so that the children are holistically developed. Besides home, it is school which is an appropriate place to teach moral values to children. Based on Hamre & Pianta (2001), “the quality of early teacher-student relationships can have strong influence on academic and social outcomes that persist through eighth grade”.
Piaget’s theory of moral development (1932)
Jean Piaget is famous for his theory of cognitive development as well as the theory of children\'s moral development. He identified that there is a close relationship between the two.
According to Piaget, at the age of ten or more, children develop the morality. They realize that people must work together to be able to decide what is acceptable and unacceptable to create a cooperative society. They also learn that people understand and approach a moral situation differently. Hence, the children are being prepared to fit in an environment where they will have to work in collaboration with diverse people having diverse opinions. They also realize that when situations are handled reasonably, it becomes easier for people to accept the decision. For example, if a student complains of having lost his mobile phone and he doubts someone, it is not fair to check with only that child as it is only on the basis of doubt. However, if the teacher decides to check it with everyone, then it is a fair and agreeable decision.
Piaget was interested in children’s moral reasoning which has been classified as follows:
Piaget states that children’s thoughts concerning rules, moral judgements and punishment tend to change as they get older. According to him, there are two main types of moral thinking:
The first is Heteronomous Morality which is also known as moral realism. Children regard morality as obeying rules and laws made by some authority figures like parents, teacher, God which cannot be changed and breaking those rules will lead to punishment. This is referred to immanent justice. For example talking in the class while the teacher is explaining is breaking one of the rules of the class and when children are caught while doing so are punished. For example, the child may have to write lines that I should not talk when the teacher is explaining in the class. Thus, morality comes from the respect that children owe to their parents or teachers. Nevertheless, as children get older, circumstances of their lives change as well as their attitude to moral questions.
The second is Autonomous Morality which is also acknowledged as moral relativism. Children recognize that morality depends on intentions, not on consequences. Piaget believed that at the age of 9-10, children’s understanding of moral issues undergo an important reorganisation. They start to see moral rules from other people’s perspectives. So, when a child can decentre while considering other people’s intentions and circumstances, they can make more independent moral judgements and they start to think about rules, moral responsibility, punishment and justice, like that of adults. Children now understand that rules are made by people and those rules are changeable. Children begin to realize that if they behave in certain ways that appear to be wrong but their intentions are good, they will not be punished. For instance, the teacher’s mobile phone is ringing and the child wants to give it to the teacher who is outside but the mobile falls down. The child will understand that it happened by mistake not maliciously.
Piaget\'s contributions were very significant and they had great influence on the work of Lawrence Kohlberg.
Lawrence Kohlberg’s theory of Moral development (1958)
Kohlberg built on the early work of cognitive theorist Piaget concerning children‘s construction of morality. His theory has been the foundation for a numerous programs designed to promote moral education. Kohlberg’s theory of moral reasoning is based on three levels and six stages. According to him, a child develops from the capacity of pre-conventional morality before the age 9 to that of conventional morality in early adolescence and finally reaches the capacity of post-conventional morality.
Level 1: Pre conventional Morality
At this level, children do not have any personal code of morality. The latter is rather shaped by adults. Throughout this level, children’s sense of morality is externally controlled where they accept the rules of authority figures and they are only interested in securing their own benefit by avoiding punishment and by pleasing others.
Level 2 - Conventional morality
This is the stage where children learn about rules and authority and that there are certain “conventions” telling them how they should and should not behave and they should obey those conventions. Yet, they cannot make the difference between moral and legal principles. What is handed down by authority like the society is right and going against that is bad. This level is divided in two phases; in the first one children are concerned about pleasing others and securing others’ favours and in the second stage, children go further into believing that morality is what keeps the social order intact. Kohlberg states that many people remain in this stage for their whole lives where they keep deriving moral principles from social or religious authority figures and they never think about morality for themselves.
Level 3: Post conventional Morality
This level of morality is generally regarding the universal principles relative to the action done. While individual judgment is based on self-chosen principles, moral reasoning is based on individual rights and justice. Kohlberg states that the majority of people take their moral views from people around them and only a minority think over ethical principles for themselves. At this stage, children are expected to have learned about the difference between what is right and wrong morally and according to the rules. Even though they often overlap, sometimes breaking a rule might be right.
Hence, we can find that at the pre conventional level, children are supposed to abide by certain rules set by their parents and teachers and they try to avoid punishment by adhering to those rules whose importance remain unknown to them at this stage. However, children under nine years who have working parents and thus mostly have less parental attention, become independent to some extent very early. They already move to the conventional level where they know how they should behave and they are aware of what is right and what is wrong. At this stage, they have already developed their moral reasoning to some level. Nevertheless, where on one side children are having positive impact of becoming independent, there is also the issue where children lose their infancy at a very young age. Similarly, there is another great problem where children who lack parental love, attention and care suffer from being underdeveloped. They may be at the age where they were supposed to use their own moral reasoning at the post conventional level but unfortunately due to being unattended, they remain at the pre conventional level. Thus, it becomes vital for teachers to fill the void at school. They should cater for the moral development of children through moral and values education.