An increasing body of research calls for a fundamental redefinition of education. The question of what constitutes quality education; the meaning and purpose of education; the content of education; the process for the development of capabilities in learners for a life of service to the common good are driving this burgeoning discourse further ahead.
In this process, it is essential to critically analyse the current approach to education and to introduce radical changes commensurate with the needs of the age. One can learn from the lessons of the past and at the same time be open to new ideas. There is a great wealth of knowledge available on the importance of youth empowerment, character education and integrated learning for bringing about a change in character, mind-set and attitudes of children, adolescents and youth.
The proposed conference on Character Education and Future Impact aims at achieving the following learning outcomes:
1. The Why? To ascertain the need for character education: The conference aims to bring the centrality of character education to the whole discourse on quality education. It wants to reiterate that character education cannot be treated as tangential to the process of the empowerment of children and youth for the betterment of the world.....
City Montessori School believes that education given to children must be three-fold aiming at Material, Human and Divine Education.
Educators and stakeholders in children’s education often take antipodal positions on character education: from character being immutable, determined by ‘nature’ (innate and genetic factors), to the view that ‘nurture’ .....
If the purpose of education is to prepare young people for their adult and working life, then there is no question that it is essential for schools to give major attention to the overall character development of children.
Head, Quality Assurance & Innovations Department and Superior Principal
The erosion of human values in our societies today has become a phenomenon.
Convenor, ICCEFI and Head, Department of Character Education and Youth Empowerment, CMS
“Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future...”
We are passing today through a period of great upheavals. Words such as violence, ethnic and religious cleansing, genocide, gender discrimination, moral degradation, massacre, hunger, student suicides, gun shooting in schools are common enough to have lost their original impact. At the same time there are international and national efforts being made for the establishment of world peace, tolerance, and unity. A move towards character and global citizenship education, as well as mobilizing humanity to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals, are the apparent signs of constructive measures by contemporary thought leaders in the world today. One can see, clearly, that two parallel processes are happening side by side, namely: the disintegration of the old, fragmented world order and the crystallization of a new one.
Search for solutions leads to the question of who has to bring about the necessary change in the lives of people and in the thinking systems and processes of society. Obviously, it is each individual human being. One would argue that to act effectively during this period of extreme individualism and consumerism, individuals must be endowed with a strong sense of purpose that impels them both to take charge of their own intellectual, social, emotional, moral and ethical growth and contribute to the transformation of society.
Character and Civic Education: In a recent research conducted by Populus and the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, 450 practising teachers in UK were asked about current character education provision within their schools, and the potential impact a greater focus on character might have. Adapted from previous Jubilee Centre research, the poll defined character education as school provision focused on developing ‘positive strengths such as honesty, confidence, and critical thinking’, and teaching students to ‘understand what is ethically important in difficult situations and how to choose the right course of action’. Their response was that character education will have a positive impact on pupil attainment.
The proposed conference on Character Education and Future Impact will examine the role of school educators, including teachers, principals as well as parents in imparting character education and empowering adolescents and youth. Some of the pertinent questions addressed in this conference will be:
The discourse calls for no less than a fundamental redefinition of education. It is important to critically analyze the current approach to education and to introduce radical changes commensurate with the needs of the age. One can learn from the lessons of the past and at the same time be open to new ideas. There is a great wealth of knowledge available on the importance of youth empowerment and character education and the need for bringing about a change in character, mindset and attitudes of children, adolescents and youth. The conference will provide the opportunity to school leaders and other education stakeholders to share and disseminate this knowledge.
A two-day International Conference on Character Education and Future Impact was organized by the Department of Character Education and Youth Empowerment of CMS on 2nd and 3rd February 2019. Educationists from Georgia, Iran, Qatar, UK, USA and various states of India gathered together to explore the need for Character education, and the ways and means of integrating it into the curriculum. The deliberations also focused on the need for promoting the discourse on redefining quality education further in the Indian sub-continent.
The Chief Guest, Mr. Rajendra Kumar Tiwari, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Secondary and Higher Education, UP presented the inaugural speech and together with all other educationists lit the lamp of learning following the prayers and cultural presentation by the tiny tots of CMS highlighting the principles of the Oneness of God and Oneness of Religion. Prof. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, the President of CMS, in her welcome speech emphasized the dire need of children and adolescents to receive sound, holistic education which would empower them to take charge of their own process of intellectual, emotional, moral, spiritual development as well as contribute to the betterment of their society. She emphasized that selfless service to the common good is the arena where spiritual and moral development is tested and strengthened. She reiterated the need for all educationists in various schools to give special attention to this important matter.
Mrs. Farida Vahedi, the convener of the Conference spoke on the imperative need for an evolving conceptual framework on quality education and highlighted the centrality of character and moral education to the entire process of the empowerment of children, adolescents and youth to become champions of justice, builders of unity and the establishers of divine civilization on earth. She highlighted the need for this framework to enable the educational institutions to formulate a vision and devise programs of implementation.
Mr Geoff Smith, Founder Member, UK Association of Character Education, spoke on the topic "Can You See the Tree within the Tiny Seed?" saying that every child has the potential to become a fruitful tree and an active moral person. Teachers have a crucial role to play in this process. He reiterated that the aim of education is to achieve excellence in every step of life. Dr. Dara Feldman spoke on “Awakening the Gifts of Character” as an introduction to the Virtues Project. She highlighted the five strategies essential for inspiring individuals with more authentic, joyful lives and for educators to create safe, caring and high performing learning communities. Using the language of virtues, recognizing teachable moments, restorative justice, honouring the spirit and offering companioning were the salient features of her presentation which was participatory in nature and enjoyed by all. A highlight of the conference was the presentation of Dr. Hamed Mohajer on “Beyond the Culture of Contest: Strive for Excellence”. A documentary on the experiences of CMS with the junior youth empowerment programme was shown in the conference filling the heart and souls of all with admiration at the extent to which service to one’s younger peers can develop immense capacities that are latent in children and adolescents. A thorough explanation on parameters of “Whole School Approach to Value and Peace Education” was done by Mr. Payam Shoghi and Mrs. Suniti Jha spoke on the “Experiences of New Era Foundation in Panchgani on imparting quality education”.
Speakers in parallel workshop sessions spoke on the Role of Music in Character Education, on Building Moral Structures to Distinguish Right from Wrong, on Critical Thinking and Power of Analysis and on Wild Life and how to appreciate our interdependence with the environment and nature. There was an opportunity to listen to other stakeholders and their role in quality education. Vidyanchal School, Vidya Valley School from Pune, Study Hall from Lucknow and RSBN Montessori School, Kakori village, shared their experiences with imparting character education to enhance the quality of the teaching-learning process in their schools. Mr. Ramvilas from RSBN Montessori School highlighted that it is impossible for one to become spiritual without acts of service to the society and that students should get that opportunity in their schools and in wider society both.
The penultimate session of the conference examined the "Role of Government and Civil Society in Quality Education", Dr. Sarvendra Vikram Singh, Director, Basic Education, U.P. said that central and state governments are working to transform teaching methods. Need of the hour today is that the schools must understand their social responsibility and include character traits and values in pedagogy. He said that he would like to be a partner with CMS and other discourse partners in the development of curriculum that would assist all teachers to impart character education in schools. Mrs. Marzia Dalal, spoke that meaningful education is our last hope that can strengthen the way to the holistic development of mankind.
The concluding session of the conference included the reading of the resolution and its acceptance by all the participants. It was unanimously agreed by all the school administrators, teachers, government functionary and civil society representative that our vision in the field of education has to focus on advancing the civilization, both spiritually and materially. That the development of one’s spiritual qualities and personal progress cannot be separated from the advancement of civilization. That the choice before humanity today ranges from the annihilation of the entire human race to the building of a great world civilization. That this choice is not a political or economic choice; it is not a technological choice; it is a moral choice. That we need to build the capability of our children, junior youth, youth and adults to make moral choices.That the 21st century is the century of pedagogical changes. We need to leave our past behind and ponder where we are heading to. Today we earnestly require teaching methodology that can make children world citizens complete with moral excellence and leadership.
All the participating schools committed to organizing seminars in their respective cities in order to generate the critical mass necessary for this burgeoning discourse to gather further momentum and involve academics and regional and national institutions in translating their vision into reality.
CMS Founder-Director, Dr. Bharti Gandhi extended her gratitude to all the delegates, saying that education world will remain indebted to the contribution of this conference in giving the discourse on education a new colour and flavor.