Education and Values

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What is education? Is it just knowledge in basic skills, academics, and citizenship… or is it something else? In a broad sense, education is a lifelong process which includes all the experiences we have obtained from formal and informal agencies. Yet, the message of education today is manipulated by so-called “star tutors.” No longer is education stressed on developing students’ inner potentials, on benefiting the state, and creating an enlightened, just, democratic society. The aims of education have been forgotten as our minds have been adjusted to the concept of getting high marks. Moreover, education has been affected by other factors including the government, society, and the economy. In this essay, I will argue that education cannot be immune from political, social, philosophical, and economic factors with reference of the movie Aarkshan. Social and Political

Throughout history, India has always been known as a country with a prominent caste system . Whatever caste a person was born into, they were stuck with it till the end of their life; there was practically no social mobility (rare cases) and no social interaction among different castes. To make matters worse, the system was reinforced with British colonialism in the 17th century. Fortunately, in modern India, a person would not normally know the caste of another person until you’ve openly asked about the status of that person such as the interview of Deepak Kumar . In the opening scene of the movie, Deepak Kumar is interviewed by the school board. What is unusual about the interview was that the whole interview focused on Deepak’s family background and his status in which interviews are not supposed to do. They did not ask him why he was suitable for that job or what subject he would like to teach. This correlates with the idea of social inequality and the conflict theories that we have learned in Lecture 3 . The admission system was not based on meritocracy since the board of education did not believe he was capable of teaching manners, etiquette, and communication skills. The scene described above shows that education continues to be affected by social status and castes. As teachers, we should be reminded that “A person’s intelligence and performance don’t depend on their background (Deepak).” In addition, education is affected by political factors such as the reservation system in India. The government created the reservation system in hope of narrowing the gap between the affluent and the impoverished. Yet, this system aggravated the caste system of India as the middle class felt perturbed by the development. “If they do our work, we’ll have to do what they were doing. We’ll have to leave our studies and take up shoe-polishing now” (40:00). Since this reservation was only based on caste and not on income, it gave a “headache” to those low income people who were not of lower caste. Because of the reservation system, students who achieve higher grades than a lower caste system may not get into a university of their choice such as the case of the student in Aarakshan (35:23). The student tried to commit suicide because he was not accepted into the Engineering Institute as the reservation system saved spots for the backward castes. As we can see, political factors merging with social factors manipulate the values of education. Philosophical

Another factor that undermines education is the effect of shadow education and the competition it creates among students around the world. First of all, don’t get me wrong, private tutoring is supposed to be helpful for the students, but too much of it is harmful to the student as it takes away time from other subjects, which leads to a decline in overall academic performance (Bray, 35). Yet, the problem isn’t shadow education itself; the problem is how the tutors commercialize education and make it a commodity. Throughout the movie, the audience saw how Singh’s cousin’s “KK Coaching” grew into a well-organized...
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