A Handbook on Value Education

Title: A Handbook on Value Education (volumes 1 & 2)
Publisher: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, Kolkata – 700 029
Year of Publication: March 2005
Price: Rs.50/- per volume
ISBN: 81-87332-41-7 (volume 1) and 81-87332-42-5 (volume 2)
Email: rmic@vsnl.com, website: http://www.sriramakrishna.org

There has been an endless chain of debate and discussion going on in India in the last few decades about value education or what is being called today as ‘values’ education. The traditional school, family and socio-cultural framework in India which at one point of time served as an effective medium for transmission of value systems to younger generations collapsed and disappeared under British rule. It was replaced with a new framework of education with a different vision and focus which seemed to suit the changing needs of the Indian society. In the post-independence era, this educational framework underwent further changes. However, there has always been a sense of dissatisfaction with it. Swami Vivekananda, Gandhiji, Rabindranath Tagore and other prominent leaders criticised the cultural and spiritual vacuum created by modern education and the same complaint is heard even today. Many cultural and spiritual organisations in India have consequently tried to develop a curriculum for value education intended to fill this vacuum.

This two volume handbook on value education is the outcome of a similar attempt by the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture (RMIC) to launch a comprehensive course on value education. Workshops were organised between 2003 and 2005 to address the key stakeholders of the value education programme – students, teachers, parents and the administrators. The papers presented during the workshops and the outcomes of the discussions have been compiled together in these two volumes.

Swami Prabhananda, secretary of RMIC, deems the programme to be experimental in nature: “We, on our part, however, regard the entire programme experimental in nature… the structure and content of the course are open to modification, upgradation and expansion… Our objective is to address certain questions that confront us in our value education programmes. No finality is claimed, nor should be claimed, where values admit of conflicting views and interpretation, particularly in today’s context.”

The first volume is divided into four phases. Phase 1 consists of the proceedings of the workshop held for students, phase 2 for parents, phase 3 for teachers and phase 4 for administrators. There could have been added here a ‘Phase 5’ for organisations which have been involved in value education like the Chinmaya Mission, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Satya Sai Institutions, Amrita Institutions, Vyakti Vikas Kendra, Vivekananda Kendra etc. Exchange of information between similar attempts made by different spiritual or cultural organisations can help consolidate available knowledge and experience into a unified form.

Some of the noteworthy contributions in volume 1 occur in phase 2 under the section on “Challenges Before Value Education” – Prof. Radharaman Chakrabarti’s (former VC, NSOU) views on ‘Pursuit of Values in the Face of Media Interference,’ ‘Importance of Self-Discipline in Today’s Context’ by Swami Sarvabhutananda and Prof. Samiran Chandra Chakraborty’s (Dept. of Sanskrit, Rabindra Bharati University) views on ‘Inter-Generation Communication Gap’ etc.
Volume 2 contains a collection of papers presented during the second workshop addressed to senior students and teachers. ‘Value Education as the Art of Reconciling the Practical with the Perennial Truth’ by Amlan Datta (former VC, North Bengal University and Vishwa Bharati University), ‘Stress & Modern Lifestyle: Protecting Young Minds from Evil Influences’ by Chinmoy Kumar Ghosh (IGNOU) and ‘Self-Discipline’ by Samiran Chandra Chakrbarti are some of the important papers contained in volume 2.

However, the editing and presentation could have been better. The standard academic conventions and styles have been given the go-by, thus reducing the readability and visual appeal. This can be rectified if RMIC brings out a reprint in future. In spite of this lacuna, the volumes will certainly serve as ready references for teachers and educationists involved in value education.

As a next step, RMIC can consider conducting an international seminar or a workshop where experts from a more diverse spectrum from all over the world can be invited to present their views or participate in discussions.

(This review was originally published in The Vedanta Kesari, March 2007)

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