Much has been said and written about “Value Education”, which has become one of the buzzwords of the present educational scene. There is at present a growing consensus among educational thinkers that moral lessons and sermons are the most ineffective way to inculcate values in the young minds. They touch only the superficial layers of the student’s mind. But, unless the values become concrete to the feeling and sensation of the learner, they don’t sink into his or her consciousness. Here is an illustrative story on how to make value education more effective. The story is not fictional, but an actual episode in the life of a teacher in a venerable educational institution in India.
He is a teacher very much respected and admired by his students. On that day he said to his small group of students: “Today I have some interesting work for you. Let us go to the playground”. The boys gathered around the teachers who led them to the playground pushing his old crackling cycle. The boys were intrigued and amused by a large bag hanging in the cycle of their teacher!
In the playground, the teacher placed his cycle in the midst of the students and after taking out the big bag he told the young group: “Now dismantle my cycle. Tear it apart”. The boys pounced on the cycle like a pack of wolves. After half an hour there was no cycle, but only a bunch of cycle parts scattered all over. And the boys looked triumphantly at the teacher waiting for his next instruction. The teacher said “wonderful work, now assemble it and give me my cycle back”. Again, the boys went to work enthusiastically, not knowing that while it is easy to dismantle a cycle, it is very difficult to assemble it back without experience and skill in the trade.
The teacher sat down and looked at the boys with an amused smile as they were struggling to assemble the cycle parts. One hour passed and the boys were tired and perplexed, unable to fit together the parts of the cycle. The teacher allowed one more hour for the boys to struggle with his torn-down cycle. And finally, he got up and said with a smile “So you are not able to do it. But without my cycle how can I come back to school in the evening?” The boys looked at the teacher exhausted and helpless. The teacher said encouragingly “Never mind, put all these parts in this bag. Some of you take the wheels. Let us go to Ganesh’s cycle shop.”
As they neared the cycle shop, the teacher and the owner of the shop, Ganesh, exchanged a knowing smile, because the teacher had already told Ganesh about the experiment he was going to make with his boys. The teacher told Ganesh “See what these wicked fellows have done to my cycle. Please restore my cycle to me.” Ganesh turned to his young twelve year old assistant Ramu and said, “do it, fast”. As the boys watched in amazement, Ramu started working with his deft, skillful and experience hands. Within half an hour, the teacher’s cycle was brought back to life. The teacher turned to the boys and said “Look what you people, a bunch of six grownup boys, are not able to do even after struggling for two hours, Ramu was able to do single handedly within half an hour. So next time when you look at him, don’t consider him as a lowly cycle shop boy. Treat him with the respect due to a master-craftsman.”
The teacher could have given a lofty sermon on the value of the dignity of labour and the boys would have gone to sleep! But this teacher knew how to impart value-education in the true way.