Sadanand has always said that in his pursuit to bring human values into education, he can find no better experts on the subject than students themselves. With this important observation in mind, we brought the question of how to incorporate ethics into education to a school outside of New Delhi called, The Heritage School.
After watching the 1st through 5th graders perform for Founder’s Day, we had a quick meet and greet with some 10th and 12th grade students. After our initial introductions we came together in small groups to discuss our dreams for the future and whether or not ethics or values can be taught. I was struck by how quickly the conversation navigated to the issue of cheating. The point was made that from a very early age we are taught that cheating is wrong.
However most of us agreed that the pressure to do well was sometimes so intense that individuals might cheat even though they knew it was wrong. We discussed how there is a difference between being told that something is wrong and your conscious telling you that something is wrong. Most of the students believed that ultimately each individual needs to be able to rely on his values when presented with difficult situations.
As I listened to the friendly debate that revolved around this critical dilemma, the source of the issue was revealed to me. For many people the idea of having an education is interconnected with the idea of having a “successful” life. The pressure that the education system seems to put on kids forces them to find a way to separate themselves from the massive crowd. Cheating seems to be the only option left to many students because they worry that they can not achieve high enough marks by studying alone. However, many students revealed that cheating took a tole on them. When they went to bed at night, they felt guilty about getting something that they did not really earn or deserve.
The conclusion we came to is that nothing is worth a troubled conscience.
Many ask where do your values come from? How do you fight for them? How do you know they are working? My answer to those questions is that your values come from within. No one can tell you how you are going to react to a certain situation before and after it occurs. The one guiding factor you can use is your peace of mind. After all, you are happiest when your mind is open and your conscience quiet.