Saturday, 18 August 2018

Teaching morals to Generation Z

Md. Shamsul Islam

Md. Shamsul Islam, Executive Editor, Our Time : I become deeply horrified when I see different statistics related to our young generation – more often than not dubbed as Generation Z in the West i.e. the young people who are growing up in a tech-savvy, socially alienated environment.
For instance, in one survey released last year we found that 77% of the teenagers in the capital were addicted to porn videos. In another survey, we were told that an estimated more than 2.5 million children were drug addicts in Bangladesh. Then there are media reports about the spreading of gangster culture among the urban and elite section of our youth and their alleged involvements in different crimes including killing of their own friends etc.
Having exposed to these appalling surveys and reports, the essential question that often pops up my mind is: how to instill moral values in our children? This is a difficult question indeed. The statistics at least provides us ample evidence that the way we are trying to teach moral values to our young people, has largely become outdated and ineffective.
In our educational approach, morality is presented in front of the students as a ‘bag of virtues’ like kindness, honesty, truthfulness etc. In the classrooms, teachers tell students that these are the essential virtues of human life and ask them to practice these virtues in order to become a better human being. Concomitantly, the system we follow now is, what the educationalists would prefer to call, ‘fix the kids policy.’
As a spin off, students’ individual opinions are often overlooked. Through this process, teachers try imposing certain values on the students, thereby trying to fix them without realizing that they require time and understanding to learn societal norms and values. Students are rarely given any chance to express their values for reaching any decision.
So, how to instill morality in our children? Experts opine that one of the most effective ways to teach morality is the dialectic process of Socratic learning. Through questions and answer sessions, as Socrates used to follow, students should be taught morality. Instead of asking to practice a specific virtue, students should be asked to solve moral dilemmas in the classrooms that a human being may confront every day.
Unfortunately, pedagogical techniques we follow in the classrooms are rarely interactive, our values and morals are transmitted to our posterity through one way traffic. Students do not get opportunity to explore, think and rethink, often failing to understand the differences between what is morally right or wrong.
In fact, there are numerous other ways to teach morality. Degradation of moral values among our children must not be taken lightly. Character and moral education should not be age-old and static; newer techniques and strategies should be devised if we want to make our next generation as contributing citizens and save them from going astray.

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