Our education system needs a volte face : Axiology versus intellectualism

Rev Fr Stephen Touthang *

Director of Education (University and Higher Education) Building in Imphal :: March 2013
Director of Education (University and Higher Education) Building in Imphal in March 2013 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam


Today is the psychological moment to tarry awhile and give a deep thought to our contemporary education system. If we turn on the different news channels and flick through various magazines and newspapers we can find only the cumulative rise in corruption, violence, rape, murder and the list continues. These realities have something to do with our education system. For example, most of the people who are charge sheeted in corruption cases are high profile politicians, bureaucrats, corporate executives, military officers etc.

Are they not the so called "the educated elite of our society?" Corruption has become an obnoxious virus that is affecting our democratic system. In our country, we also see a strange economic disparity the gap between the rich and the poor which is so enormous that it is almost unbridgeable. Rape and murder has become a regular feature. There is lack of mutual trust and respect for one other. The concept of the 'other' as a stranger seems to be taking deep roots in the psyche of the people.

This is because we are not getting the right education that we ought to receive. Therefore, here comes the need to impart value-based education right from the very inception of imparting education to every child. There is a BIG question that lurks in our minds today: "Do we really get "educated" in our schools, colleges and universities? If then why so much of corruption, cheating, bribery, hatred, violence, rape, murder, lack of respect and concern for the other?

I am not saying schools, colleges and universities are not doing well? Certainly these institutions have produced authentic and good people. At the same time, most of the so called "educated elites" of our society who have gone through the same institutions have become vehicles of social evils in our society. They have become more of a bane than a boon. Steven Muller, the President of John Hopkins University says, "Universities are turning out highly skilled barbarians because we don't provide framework of values to young people, who more and more are searching for it." `The world is full of educated derelicts. So the person who is "educated" is the one who possesses true education.

What is a true education?

True education is training of both the head and the heart. Intellectual Education influences the head and Value-based Education influences the heart. In fact, education that does not train the heart can be very dangerous. Intellectual education emphasizes acquisition of knowledge and information while Value-based education stresses the development of fundamental traits of character such as honesty, probity, compassion, courage, persistence and responsibility. It is a formation of a virtuous life.

Today, our education system seems to be prioritizing intellectual education and as a consequence we have myriads of the so called "highly skilled barbarians" and this is very dangerous because they are pernicious to the harmonious growth of the society. We have so many highly intellectuals whose consciences are in passive abdormition. We don't need more intellectual education; we need more of value-based education.

A person who is morally and ethically educated will be a lot better equipped to move up in life or succeed than a morally bankrupt person, with excellent academic qualifications. Educating the mind without morals creates a menace in society. We don't lack noematical assuagement but values. Our education system is suffering from axiological bankruptcy. It is a high time we permeate values in our education system. Winston Churchill says, "The first duty of a university is to teach wisdom, not trade; character, not technicalities."

An educated person operates more from the heart than from the mind

While the heart is busy loving and caring, the MIND is busy reasoning and reflecting. When the heart sees a person in need, it at once galvanizes into action. But when the mind sees a person in need, it immediately reasons and says, "Is it right to help such a person or does he or she deserve? The Heart simply loves and cares without any condition and cunctation (delay).

While, the MIND always operates with a second thought: "Should I help? Who is he or she? Does he or she deserve? Is it worth helping? Even if I help, how much? The MIND always rationalizes, calculates, measures and inquires. It rarely acts. It wants to KNOW only. It is information oriented. It never passes beyond the boundary of cognition, knowledge and information.

The world of the HEART and the world of the MIND have a vast difference. The world of the HEART is governed by love, care, compassion, sympathy, empathy, peace, joy, understanding etc. while, the world of the MIND is governed by scientific rationality, reflection, calculation, measurement etc. The language construction of this world is so different from that of the world of the HEART. Those who live in the world of the MIND are fond of using words like, why, how, what, where etc.

Unless they used these interrogatives, they don't understand each other. So, the world of the MIND is the world of reflection, calculation, measurement, subtraction and addition. It is the world of mathematics, the world of reason and hectic mental activity. Unless it is reasonable it will not act or proceed in life. Those who live in this world are very able, acute, astute, brainy, brilliant, clever, canny, intellectual, perceptive, percipient, perspicacious, profound, quick, rational, sagacious, sensible, sharp, shrewd, cunning, smart, witty, trenchant and so on.

On the other hand, those who live in the world of the HEART don't use any language; the only language they use is the language of love and understanding. Without using words, they understand each other. How nice it would be if we are able to understand each other without using words! i.e., without the person explaining himself or herself, I am able to understand him or her. The people who live in this world are not very clever, not very intelligent or not shrewd but they are very loving, affectionate, ardent, attached, brotherly, caring, closed, concerned, dear, devoted, fond, fatherly, friendly, motherly, sisterly, inseparable, fraternal, protective, tender, warm, genial, amiable etc.

Conclusion: I think the need of the hour is the training of the heart. It is a training of a person to live a virtuous life. Our education system needs to be axiologized i.e., value based. If we train first the heart there will be no corruption, stealing, cheating, violence, selfishness, rape, murder and there will be no gap between the rich and the poor because there will be sharing.

This is what we need to stress in our education system today. But this does not mean I am downplaying the role of intellectual education. We need both to progress and develop but at the same time our value system is decaying. Without values our society would be a miserable place to live in. Civilization gradually evanesces where there is decadence of values.

* Rev Fr Stephen Touthang wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on April 16, 2013

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