In an increasingly polarized world, there is a growing need for value education and academicians have an important role to play in the character-building of their students
Linguistic communication or language is the vehicle of thought. Language shapes character. The way we speak, and therefore the words we use, have great power to discourage or inspire anyone around us. True modern education must consist not just material education received through books or the courses taught within the class, but should aim to the holistic development of a child or a student, through moral education. Education needs to transcend the lecture rooms. There is an increasing realization of this idea amongst the academic thought leaders around the globe.
The value of moral education
The concept of moral and ethical education classes was adopted traditionally to speak over the ideas of ethics, standards of conduct and ideas of morality within the class. However, this approach seems insufficient and less impactful for effective, meaningful development of youngsters.
I am personally of the view that moral education must be infused within every teaching methodology by all the teachers while teaching in the class. We, as teachers, educators and administrators have a novel responsibility towards the moral empowerment of our students. All educators, trainers and teachers are often catalysts for the moral development of youngsters by talking to students in a way that recognize their true character instead of just observing their academic achievements, marks or grades.
The language we use has an immense potential to influence the lives of others – whether it’s telling a subordinate how patient she has been, waiting for a discussion with the boss, or encouraging a bullying youngster to tap into his compassion, giving performance feedback to an employee, or telling somebody what we enjoy and appreciate about them. Language is a mirror of how we value and respect others. It is said that if we knew how powerful our thoughts were, we would never have another negative thought again!
The only Higher Education Accreditation Body in India NAAC (National assessment & Accreditation Council) has also recognized the importance of this aspect which is apparent from their question being asked under criteria 7.1.17 “Activities conducted for the promotion of universal values (truth, righteous conduct, love, non-violence and peace); national values, human values, national integration, communal harmony and social cohesion as well as for observance of fundamental duties.”
Words carry weight
This article is an inspiration from the ‘Language Virtues Project’ which is an exemplary methodology advocated by educators and organisations. The beauty of language, of virtues, is it can have a positive impact without consuming time, just by way of language we use it. Although it is unrealistic to expect from teachers to perform new classroom practices or change their pedagogies or methodologies of teaching, together with the pressure they face to finish their class study, it is possible to establish and determine connection of love, trust and respect that can support students in their moral and holistic development with the language of virtues.
We need to weigh our words when our words are weighty, and they always are. The language of virtues helps us to replace shaming and blaming with personal responsibility and regard. It is a type of reference for bringing out the best in one another. It helps us to become the kind of individuals we would like to be.
As one sees students demonstrating their virtues like respect, trust, justice, patience, values friendliness, humbleness, they can be acknowledged for exhibiting these noble qualities. Also, as children are observed being difficult, their behaviour needs to be addressed. For instance, instead of telling a student to be quiet and listen, can we ask him to be “respectful when being attentive to what the other says”?
Students can be encouraged to demonstrate moral leadership by striving to differentiate themselves by how virtuously they treat each another. Over time, a class environment of encouragement may be created that is founded not just on academic success, but also the virtues latent in all of us.
Learning to use the language of virtues is possible for any educator who sees value in doing so.
(The author is Associate Director – Quality Assurance & Accreditation, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Bidholi Campus, Dehradun)