Building a ‘valu(e)’able generation

C Rama Devi

Keep your thoughts positive
Because your thoughts become
YOUR WORDS

Keep your words positive
Because your words become
YOUR BEHAVIOUR

Keep your behaviour positive
Because your behaviour becomes
YOUR HABIT

Keep your habits positive
Because your habits become
YOUR VALUES

Keep your values positive
Because your values become
YOUR DESTINY.

Mahatma Gandhi

I found the above words of wisdom so relevant and purposeful that I could not resist writing about them. This entire poem warrants discussion, but today I would like to talk about the highlighted words – your values.

I have been in the field of education for 42 years now and every few years there is a new fad that becomes the talking point for sometime. I remember a few years ago everyone was talking about ‘IQ’ (Intelligent Quotient). Learners were measured based on this ‘notorious’ abbreviation and it was like a rat race. Every parent, teacher and child had made IQ one of the parameters of life. During this IQ phase an entire generation lost out on learning lifeskills.

With time, ‘IQ’ was replaced by ‘EQ’ (Emotional Quotient) – a less ‘notorious’ and more ‘empathetic’ abbreviation. One more parameter to measure learners by. Now educators were shifting their attention to the emotional wellbeing of the learners in their class. However, with EQ we focused on the emotionally strong children leaving behind those we felt were weak.

Now, to the already existing IQ and EQ I would like to add VQ (Value Quotient). I must thank my father for this as he inspired me to think about building stronger generations. We need to understand that education is not a factory to produce learners; it is a process where every learner is nurtured and allowed to grow to the fullest of his/her capacity. We don’t need parameters of measurement, but a belief-system where every learner is supported based on self-worthiness. I knew that I had to strive hard to get the results. Value Quotient is where every learner measures himself/herself with his/her own worthiness.

More than seeing my students as successful people, I would like to see them as people with values. With this vision in mind we started many practices in school (Bhavan’s Vidyashram). The school assembly underwent a transformation. It received a beautiful new name – ‘Spiritual activity’. All classes have spiritual activity on their timetable. It is not a 45 minute class of teaching and learning. It is a class of give and take. It is a class where values are imparted by the teachers and where self-worthiness is at its peak. Everyone present in this class knows that they are not there to be tested or assessed, but to check their own value system. The classes are lively with stories from the past. The Ramayana and Mahabaharata are learnt effortlessly. The Prophet and Jesus Christ become relevant in this class. Super heroes like Lord Hanuman become their (students) friends. Shlokas and songs from the scriptures get melodious rendition in this class. The highlight of this class is the recitation of ‘Sarv Dharma Prayer’ by the school choir. In the last 30 years, spiritual activity has become an integral part of the school.

Another thing that we started in the school is ‘The Awakened Citizen Programme’ – a value-based syllabus prescribed by the Ramakrishna Math for classes 7, 8 and 9. The ACP classes are conducted once a week as spiritual activity classes. The syllabus is not for assessment but for building and empowering the young with strong values and refinements. The course is designed with meaningful presentations and real-life examples. It is a full-fledged digital course and students enjoy this class as they find it enriching and exciting.

School assembly is the best time to work on value education. This is when the principal and teachers are able to deliver the best value education in the form of stories. Guest lecturers from ‘Brahmakumaris’, Ramakrishna Math and other organizations use this gathering to impart values and morals to the learners.

The school also follows very unique traditions of the gratitude tree and happiness jar. Every Teacher’s Day and New Year’s Day a potted tree is placed in the quadrangle of the school. Students and staff are allowed to tie a thank you message to the tender branches of the tree. A happiness jar is placed where they write their moments of happiness and put them in the jar so that the moments of happiness double up! By the end of the day the tree and the jar are full of colourful pieces of paper on which the students and staff have thanked people they could not reach personally. Everyone enjoys this practice and you can see a beautiful smile when someone reads his/her name on the branches of the tree. These practices have given positive vibes to the school campus. These initiatives have built a different level of value system in the school.

The ‘Burning Bin’ is another tradition that the school practices. Every year, on a particular day, the school observes a common assembly, where students are asked to write down all their negative feelings and thoughts on a piece of paper. These pieces of paper are crumpled and thrown into a bin, which is then set on fire to burn away all the negative thoughts and feelings. The activity is meant to ensure that no one has hard feelings for anyone. The wiping away of negativity from these learners is also a way of increasing the VALUE QUOTIENT!

I feel so blessed that I was able to begin these initiatives with the support of everyone around me and when I see my students soaring high with the value system the school has instilled in them I feel I have been performing my role as an educator well. I have received compliments from various organizations where my students are working. These organizations appreciate the students for their commitment and values. This is what every educator looks forward to in his/her life. I can proudly say that I am trying to prove the quotation ‘Nowadays people know the price of everything and value of nothing, wrong.

The author is former senior principal of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Public School, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. Currently, she is the Director (Academics) Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Hyderabad Kendra. She can be reached at [email protected].

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