The Banyan Shades

Why do value systems matter in Education?

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The way academia teaches today is through a covert sense of moralism: it teaches us to believe in what is right and what is wrong. It teaches us to adopt the perspective of what is “right” and “good”. If your liberal professor talks of revolution, rebellion, or challenging the status quo or the established norm, it is “against” something, right? It may be against the idea of injustice, inequality, or war. After all, the qualities of justice, equality, or peace can be embodied only after fighting their opposites. So let us examine this game of opposites even further. Now, in my case, I came up with a particular conundrum, wherein the war was being waged against clarity itself. This means I saw professors, scholars, academic guides, and journalists hounding others on the subject of morality. However, that morality seemed to differ from situation to situation, based on who benefitted from it. This led me to the conclusion that there is indeed a value system to the education we are getting today.

And that value system is: fight what is perceived to be wrong and keep fighting it. If you have followed my previous essays and podcasts, one pattern will become very clear to you: the meta-theory that informs creation of “mainstream” knowledge is the classic Abrahamic pattern of defining good from the evil. This means we divide our selves and our stance into what we support and what we don’t support, into what we condone and what we don’t condone. Or we flip the switch, we tend to identify with everything “immoral”, “irrational” to set ourselves to be seen as underdogs or just someone who rebelling against the norm. Now, I’d like to point out here that obedience and rebellion is the classic biblical pattern. This has been the pattern through which western society has been understanding itself since ages. You see, Satan was a rebel. Giving into the temptation of rebellion leads to fall and despair, which is the opposite of “hope” and “grace”. Now, I am going to make this statement that we are still grappling with this dynamic, on a subconsious level.

I would also like to make a bold statement claiming that everything we write about doesn’t have to be a document condoning or rejecting something. However, I encourage you to take up this practice whenever you next read a journalistic piece: the practice of figuring out what are the values that the paper is espousing. For example, the paper may be condemning riots; so the value would be peace, right? Who is the paper blaming for the violence? Now go beyond and ask yourself: if person X is being blamed for the violence, what can be his/her motivation/logic to undertake that act. This, my friend, is what critical thinking is about. It is an investigative process. It does require us to conduct a dialogue with others. On a very basic level, we can think of uncovering value systems to be the backbone of critical thinking. However, we do run into one pesky problem: we do have our own value systems through which we may distort whatever we are seeing. And Gods forbid, if we have been trained by the mainstream academia, they feed you with a lot of theories that constantly signal what is good and what is bad. 

To explain these concepts, I am going to take an example of an Instagram post that captures the essence of the argument. We have all been inculcated into a mistaken value system: it mistakes equality to be the most prized social commodity. We have all been led to believe that equality is synonymous to justice. However, in several instances it might be the exact opposite to justice. But the hysteria around equality bleeds on to concepts of freedom. Let us take an instance where equality and freedom might be opposed to each other. Modern Feminism argues in favour of equality of opportunity. Modern society as a whole understands the act of creating separate spaces for menstruating women as barbaric, unsophisticated, and discriminatory. However, most women would agree that there is a need for them to rest on the days they are going through their cycles. This is just one example that goes against the prevalent “progressive myths” that are based and founded on the very Christian morality of equality: that everyone should be equal in the eyes of God, only that God is replaced by Law and other institutions.

It is my opinion that in order to accommodate for cohesive freedoms of individuals, which will promote social harmony, what one needs is tolerance, acceptance, and exchange of values rather than superimposition of one mainstream value onto everything. Everything (specially Indian) when measures through the lens of value systems like oppression, equality, and justice, which have very semitic origins seem a little bit chaotic, un-formulable, if not diabolical. Yet, we as a civilization, have survived onslaughts by negotiating our own value systems in a changing world. I think it is time to make the processes more overt, produce scholarly writings, re-interpret historical events using our lens, and lay our value systems plain without any adulteration. 

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