Hello girls and boys

Recently we, SERVE, were invited to help a young school deal with its pedagogical problems, in preparation for which task we were informally cross-examined by the school authorities as to our interpretation of two important concepts, viz Education and its cousin Value Education. Both questions demanded that we clarify our understanding of the terms, which there and then we did. The context was of course schools in India. Our questioners were satisfied with our definitions, which were as follows.

Education is the providing of young people with the knowledge and skills they require to cope maturely with their world appropriate to their stage of development, according to their various academic and creative abilities.

Value Education is an education aimed at instilling in the youngsters positive healthy attitudes to all people and to the world in general. It is more an evoking of the humanity within each individual than an orientation towards social conformity.

Both these definitions, perhaps they should be called ‘positions’, gave rise to much discussion. We insisted on ‘their world’ rather than ‘the world’ in the ‘education’ definition because we feel that we are actually too conscious of the West in our thinking about our girls and boys, so that very often our kids grow up with a complex about inferiority and superiority. 

We insisted on including the creative idea, because while all up-and-running schools do include functions – annual concert, sports day, founder’s day etc – scope for the students’ own creative abilities is often not provided. And our insistence on the concluding sentence defining the ultimate resource of values as something within the very humanity of the species ‘set the cat among the pigeons’, because some insisted that all behavior is environmentally conditioned, not ultimately spiritual – where ‘spirit’ meant part of the very nature of being human.

Would you, who are now about finished your formal education, be comfortable with that?

God bless.

Brendan MacCarthaigh

98307 85060

[email protected]