If you boost ethics in the process of education, you boost hope and humanity. If you remove hope and humanity from life, not much is left. Why are we educating everyone? The answer is simple: To promote ethical behaviour and humanity. That’s it. But objectives such as ethicality, empathy, enlightenment have gone into oblivion; education is not enhancing the students’ hope for a good life, ability to have peace with oneself and others, and become ethical members of the society.
For want of ethics education that would promote compliance, construction, and inclusion, unethical preachers are promoting defiance, destruction, and exclusion. Education without ethics does not infuse hope in students for a brighter future. It is not developing in them a sense of reciprocation, empathy and gratitude. In their illusionary worldview, they forget the high price they have to pay for not being sincere towards their responsibilities.
The intelligentsia is to a society what the sun is to life. Education without ethics results in bankruptcy of authentic, humanistic intelligentsia. Ethics need not be a huge education project; small well-intended acts, well-meant, good gestures can go a long way to make a big difference. You may begin with the easiest and most intuitive act and then see where it leads. Follow your instinct, conscience or good self; indulge a sudden urge to be conscientious. Ethics depicts simple behaviour patterns — telling the truth, being punctual and disciplined, not backstabbing, not indulging in theft, bribery and corruption, and being secular.
Education with applied ethics can address problems of growing hopelessness, weak morals, lack of empathy, and low willpower amongst students.The willpower and courage with which we control and manage our thoughts, feelings, impulses; and which help us continue with difficult tasks – is actually rooted into a kind of moral/ethical muscle lying within.
If interest is growing today in learning via technology including artificial intelligence, simultaneously, the ethics of social, political, and professional life is also being looked at due to exposure of corruption at high places, in business and banking. Corporate houses, media and hospitals have ethics committees. Parliament has an ethics committee. Ethics, a universal concept, has validity beyond the confines of cultural imprinting, and economic, political, social, ideological, historical rhetoric. With ethics in place, the individual no longer refers to any external authority for instructions as to how to behave towards others.
Traditional teachers were perhaps more ethical. Hence they commanded more respect. Introducing ethics and morals in education would raise hope for a humanistic life, remove exclusionary symptoms, empower people with cultural dignity and make society obliged to acknowledge, respect, protect and promote truths of life.
Education with applied ethics is needed to break the shackles of a post-truth era. The introduction of formal provisions of ethics education is the required first step, and it must be supplemented by positive action of people, especially of teachers. Education is incomplete until students develop commitment to ethical way of life, and sense of duty towards disciplined and responsible behaviour.
We need ethics and values-based education to reach the point where most individuals would reclaim their ethical power, rediscover their own soul, restore hope for a better future for everyone and free themselves from external controls. Then intolerance and dependence on external governance will cease to exist – and ethics will be a “hardwired” integral component of education and of human “Operating Systems”.