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Human Values: Concept & Importance

Role of family, society and educational institutions in inculcating values

Human values: Values are beliefs that have an inherent worth in usefulness or importance to the holder," or "principles, standards, or qualities reflected worthwhile or desirable.” Values institute an important characteristic of self-concept and serve as supervisory principles for person. In literature, it is documented that values are so indissolubly woven into human language, thought and behaviour patterns that they have fascinated philosophers for millennia. Yet they have proved so "quick-silvery" and complex that, despite their decisive role in human motivation, we remain desperately ignorant of the laws that govern them. (Toffler, 1969). Scott and Kluckhohn described value as a conception: explicit or implicit of desirable which influences the selection from available modes, means and end of action (1951).

Rokeach impacted with this idea and stated that value is abstract ideals, positive or negative, not tied to any specific object, or situation, representing a person’s belief about modes of conduct and ideal terminal goal. It can be represented that values are global beliefs that transcendentally guide actions and judgements across specific objects and situation (Rokeach, 1968). According to Rokeach, Rokeach (1969), value are type of belief that is “centrally located within one’s total belief system, about how one ought or ought not to behave” (p. 124). On the contrary, Feather (1975) criticizes Rokeach on equating values. He claimed that values are not “neutral”; they are held with a slight degree of feeling. Feather (1975) continued to criticize Rokeach by arguing that values may be classified as prescriptive or proscriptive beliefs rather than as a descriptive or evaluative belief.

Human values are necessity in today’s society and business world. Human values are the features that guide people to take into account the human element when one interacts with other human. They have many positive characters that create bonds of humanity between people and thus have value for all human beings. They are strong positive feelings for the human essence of the other. These human values have the effect of bonding, comforting, reassuring and procuring serenity. Human values are the basis for any practical life within society. They build space for a drive, a movement towards one another, which leads to peace. In simple term, human values are described as universal and are shared by all human beings, whatever their religion, their nationality, their culture, and their personal history. By nature, they persuade consideration for others.

Common human values are as under:

  1. Brotherhood, friendship, empathy, compassion, and love.
  2. Openness, listening, welcoming, acceptance, recognition, and appreciation.
  3. Honesty, fairness, loyalty, sharing, and solidarity.
  4. Civility, respect, and consideration.

The function of these basic values enable every human to realize or maintain highest or human value for establishing relations of peace and yet it remains indefinable. Its understanding varies according to age (child, teen, adult), to one’s education and surrounding culture. It is better assumed when combined with other values: a disposition that is deeper than graciousness, very close to consideration, and approaching appreciation. Truly, to respect someone, one must be able to appreciate some of his/her human qualities, even if one does not appreciate his/her opinions or past behaviour.

Several universal human values such as Truth, Righteous conduct, Peace, Love and Non- violence are directly associated to physical, intellectual, emotional psyche and spiritual facets of human personality. There is need and urgency to reinforce these values for a better and humane society. These are described below:

Co-operation It is the procedure to work jointly to attain some goal, but many scholars visualize co-operation as a luxury and not an important human value. It is unquestionably one of the most vital assets one can have when working through a problem. Having the opinions and voice of another person will not only draw out a discussion of the topic, but also lead person to good solution. Co-operation has been under-appreciated for years in its importance and should be held in high regard. Caring: This human value is viewed as exhibiting kindness and concern for others, the true importance of this value comes from the work or practice of looking after those unable to care for themselves. Caring for others both physically and spiritually is an extremely important value to have; people will always rely on someone else for help at one point or another, but we often fail to realize how much of a difference caring for another person can make.
Honesty Honesty is also vital human values. Presently, adopting an honest approach can often feel intimidating and impossible, but people fail to realize is that it is not the act of simply telling the truth that makes someone honest rather the quality of person who is being honest. An honest person is often straight, upright, sincere and fair and being an honest person brings more reward to the soul than the damage a lie could do.
Love The presence of love in human life, the love they have for their families, friends, our faith and for themselves is important source of energy to lead smooth life.
Respect Respect is a feeling of deep esteem for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
Faith Faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
Beauty Beauty is something that has really been spoiled by human society. The way we think about something that is beautiful is judged on a purely physical response, but the true meaning of beauty is being in balance and harmony with nature. Many researchers would argue that beauty is not a human value and, although beauty is a subjective experience, when they analyse what a subject of beauty is, it becomes anything that resonates with personal meaning, not just emotion. The prominence of this Human Value is clear when people think about the things that bring meaning into their life such as family and friends, these things become beautiful in a greater sense.
Trust Trust can be understood in many ways, but finally it comes down to reliability and truth. Without trust, the world simply would not function.
Integrity As a human value, integrity is imperative that people stand spiritually undivided and hold true to our integrity, the importance of which is often forgotten.
Wisdom Wisdom is also significant human value in many ways; under-appreciated in its importance, in its value in our lives and in its true meaning. Wisdom is also very often confused with words like knowledge or intelligence but the word wisdom is defined as the quality of having experience and good judgment and the resulting soundness of that action or decision.

A value system is a continuing organization of beliefs concerning preferable modes of conduct along a continuum of importance. Therefore the importance of different values co-varies with the importance of others in the value system.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic value:

An intrinsic value is a value that one has of itself, independently of other things, including its context. An extrinsic value is a property that depends on a thing’s relationship with other things. Extrinsic value is the value, which depends on how much it generates intrinsic value.

The reason that things have extrinsic value is because they themselves lead to happiness or pleasure or they lead to a series of other things that eventually lead to happiness. Pleasure (Intrinsic Value) is the ultimate end to which all things of extrinsic value are the means.

Need of human values:

Value education is always essential to shape one’s life and to give one an opportunity of performing on the global stage. The need for value education among the parents, children, teachers etc, is constantly increasing as we continue to witness increasing violent activities, behavioural disorders and lack of unity in the society etc. Value education enables us to understand our needs and visualize our goals correctly and also indicate the direction for their fulfilment. It also helps remove our confusions and contradictions and enables us to rightly utilize the technological innovations.

There are different views that call urgent need to inculcate human values in Indian society. Numerous traditional values which have been inherited from past remain valid and true to be adapted by future citizens but many fresh values to match confronting problems in emerging Indian culture. Presently, negative human values are in upper side. It may be because of neglect of value education which created vagueness and indiscipline in the mind of people (Satya Pal Ruhela, 1996).

Assumption of Nature of human values (Satya Pal Ruhela, 1996):

  1. The total number of values that person possesses is not very large.
  2. Moore stated that all person everywhere possess the same values though the degree may differ.
  3. Values are the standards and guidelines for one’s life influenced by experience, desire and specific situations.
  4. The anticipants of human life can be traced to culture, society and its institutions. Values differ in extent because of the difference in culture.
  5. Values are organized into value systems. A value system is an enduring organization of beliefs concerning preferable mode of conduct or end state of existence along a continuum of relative importance (Rokeach, 1973).
  6. Values as standards direct one’s way of life and value system guides to make general plans when the conflict arises.
  7. Values serve in the form of expression given to human needs and as guide to make decisions in various ways (Satya Pal Ruhela, 1996).

Role of family and society in teaching values:

Bulk of literature have shown that the family and society plays a significant role in shaping moral values of child. There is a strong bonding between the parents and children, which determines the personality of child. Family is the basis on which values are built.

Moral values such as truthfulness, happiness, peace, justice are inculcated in children’s thoughts, feelings and actions and they function as ideals and standards that govern their actions in their life. The value system practised in the family becomes automatic to the young family members if they are taught moral values thoroughly. The family has a great responsibility to pass on to the children many truths and values, and competencies to accomplish their place in life, whatever the society, whatever the culture or times. The eternal values of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Harmlessness (Non-Violence) are transmitted on first through the family. Mothers are the first teachers. Mother is foundational, central, life-bringer and life-shaper. From their mothers, children acquire self-knowledge, self-confidence, learn self-satisfaction, self-worth, the capacity for self-sacrifice.

The family, forms the child’s viewpoint towards people and society, and helps in mental development in the child and supports his desires and values. Delightful and joyful atmosphere in the family will develop the love, affection, tolerance, and generosity. A child learns his behaviour by demonstrating what he sees around him. Family also contribute significantly in helping a child socialize and has great influence and bearing on the progress of the child. In joint family system, the presence of elders in the family plays an effective role in social and moral development of the children. It will also aid young generation of the family to develop human values and eliminate their negative mental tendencies when they are among elders.

Children recognize themselves with their parents, other family elders and espouse them as their personal models for emulation and imitation. The behavioural problems are set correct only by the involvement of family in the child’s life as they spend most of their time in adolescence with the parents. Family is the first social organisation that provides the immediate closeness from which the child can learn his behaviour.

Social standards and customs demarcated by a family provide the emotional and physical basis for a child. Values developed by a family are the groundwork for how children learn, grow and function in the world. These principles, transmits the way of life a child lives and changes into an individual in a culture. These values and morals guides the individual every time in his actions. Children turn out to be a good person because of the value taught and given by his family members. Philosophies passed down from generation to generation make up a family values. Customs and Traditions followed and taught by the family leads a disciplined and organized life.

Families values helps the child to stand strong on his views regardless of others efforts to break through with opposing views. A child has a strong sense of what is right and wrong and are less likely to become sufferers of deviant influences.

Role of educational institutions in inculcating values:

Value education is important to help everyone in improving the value system that he/she holds and puts it to use. Once, one has understood his/ her values in life he/she can examine and control the various choices he/she makes in his/ her life. Many reports signify that the aim of educational institutions should not only be to teach education alone but should also be to inculcate values and improving skills of children and teens.

Education as important driver to enhance value

In school, children are affiliates of a small society that exerts a great influence on their moral development. Teachers serve as role model to students in school. They play a major role in inculcating their ethical behaviour (Satya Pal Ruhela, 1996).

Peers at school diffuse confidence about cheating, lying, stealing, and consideration for others. Though there are rules and regulations, the educational institutions pervade the value education to the children in an informal way. They play a key role in developing ethical behaviour in children.

General Steps are as under:
Accountability: The children should be exhilarated to be accountable for their own actions and should learn to respect and treat others kindly.

Role model: The teachers are the first role model to the children outside their family. When the children see the model showing concern for others, motivating them for their good deeds and cooperating and helpful with their academic issues, the children learn them by observing and imitate it with fellow peers. Helping: The children are taught basic morals and values in school. They should be taught by emphasizing the idea through many activities, stories and tales, which will encourage them to engage in more helping behaviours.

Appreciation: The teacher should appreciate the children for developing pro-social behaviour, especially for any specific action they have done to help others. It is appraised that human values enhances person’s life but in present scenario, these values are deteriorated in several countries. This trend of weakening in human values does not only pose serious threat to the future course of development of the nation but even for its survival, respect and authority itself. However, change in social/human values in younger group is unavoidable with time but the decline in Indian youth group is at disturbing rate as compared to other country around the globe. It devolves on the parents, teachers and society to imbibe the desired human values in young age group (Gandhi K. K., 1993).

To summarize, values are bridge between individual and social. Individual holds value but others influence the formation of those values (Kenneth Fleischmann, 2013). In philosophical frameworks, values are those standards or code for conduct conditioned by one's cultural doctrines and guided by conscience, according to which human being is supposed to conduct himself and shape his life patterns by integrating his beliefs, ideas and attitudes to realize cherished ideas and aims of life (Gupta, 1986). Families, groups and societies tend to share common values (Kenneth Fleischmann, 2013). Family has been regarded as cornerstone of society. It forms a basic unit of social organisation (Goel, 2008).