By Dr. Pramila Srivastava
To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.Theodore Roosevelt
Education is only complete when it leads to all round development of the individual, which encompasses not only mental but also moral development. Moral education influences the social thinking of the individual and makes him/her distinguish between what is right and what is wrong. Moral education is a basic need for modern times where one is fast witnessing a degeneration of moral values. Moral education is important as it teaches diversity, tolerance, mutual respect and pluralistic values.
The word moral comes from a Latin root (mos, moris) and means the code or customs of a people, the social glue that defines how individuals should live together.
Moral values are values that express ideas about the good life. As such, concern for the moral virtues, such as honesty, responsibility, and respect for others, is the domain of moral education.
Since young people readily and unconsciously assimilate all types of influences, good or bad, if they do not have proper guidance, it is important that society provides them with a type of education that will make them acquire sound religious and moral principles, and also develop appropriate attitudes and values that will help them to make good choices and decisions in their adulthood.
Moral education, then, refers to helping children acquire those virtues or moral habits that will help them individually live good lives and at the same time become productive, contributing members of their communities.
In this view, moral education should contribute not only to the students as individuals, but also to the social cohesion of a community. A moral education system must begin by defining the morals which are most important for not only the individual but for the society as a whole.
The system must be designed as such that the individual at a formative stage should distinguish to differentiate between what is good and what is bad. Here practical learning should take precedence over bookish learning. The environment in which people live has always influenced patterns of behaviour, attitudes, actions, beliefs, values and ethics.
There is need for schools to encourage the youth to understand why people do one thing and not another. They should be able to make choices in order to become ethically mature adults. They should be assisted to learn how to take a position and consider facts relevant about a moral issue.
The study of morality is vital because we live in a world of rapid change where there are various cultures coming into conflict, in which people are not guided by a single code of ethics but by many different values and rules. The differences are often not easily reconciled; and, in fact, may be irreconcilable. It is important to understand the nature of these differences, as most discussions and debates about morals address them.
The socio-cultural changes like transition from joint family to nuclear family system, excessive competition, parental expectations, commercialization of education, negative impact of media, misuse of information technology, globalization, consumerism etc. are putting immense pressure on children, families and schools leading to distortion of values.
If effectively implemented, Moral Education will equip learners with tools of judgement in various situations leading to making responsible choices and decisions. Therefore, moral education should be an integral part of the school and college curriculum.