Value Formation and Education

Accomplishment by an individual in any field of activity depends on the level of skill which the person has acquired. Skill converts physical energy into useful productive force for achievement. Before the advent of public education and vocational training, individual skills were limited to what could be acquired from the family, by long apprenticeship and through personal experience. Opportunities for the individual were similarly restricted by the limited access to skills through these means. The formalization of curricula enabled society to impart much higher levels of skill to many more people (e.g. mechanics, engineering, medicine, etc.) thereby geometrically increasing the opportunities for individual accomplishment and the general social progress.

Accomplishment in any field also depends on the attitudes, understanding, decisiveness and values with which the individual acts. The simple act of writing depends not only on the physical skill for forming letters and words, but also the attitude of the writer toward the act of writing, the subject matter and the readership. It depends on the writer's understanding of the subject and decision to communicate. In addition it depends on the values with which the writer performs the act of writing. Physical values such as cleanliness and orderliness determine the neatness of the writing and sequence of thoughts. Social values determine how tactfully the writer communicates his message. Psychological values such as patience, honesty and humility determine how both the author and the message are received and interpreted. Without the necessary attitude, understanding, decisiveness and values, the act of writing has minimal effect.

Every act in every field has its own requirements for accomplishment. All these elements are needed in order for the act to lead to accomplishment and fulfillment. Carrying on a discussion requires not only the ability to speak, but also the ability to listen, a cooperative and open-minded attitude, the self-discipline not to interrupt or change the subject, the capacity to understand what is spoken and quickly decide what should or should not be said, as well as the tolerance, honesty, humility and patience needed to gain the confidence and sympathy of the listener. Without these other elements, speaking one's thoughts has minimal effect and can often be counterproductive.

The more complex, sophisticated and significant the act, the greater is the importance of these elements in determining its outcome. The act of selling, winning an election, managing an organization, negotiating an agreement, or leading a group depend more for their success on the person's values, attitudes and decisiveness than on the skills which the individual possesses. Every successful person exhibits these qualities. Every failure lacks them in some measure.

Formal education and training programs focus almost exclusively on imparting physical, social and mental skills. They place very little conscious emphasis on the attitudes, the mental understanding and decisiveness, and the psychological values needed for these skills to result in accomplishment and fulfillment. Therefore, the overall effectiveness and accomplishments of the individual and the society are extremely limited compared to the opportunities that are available. If the requirements for success in each field of life are analyzed, most people would be found possessing only 25% of what is required for high achievement. Thus, the scope for improving personal effectiveness is enormous.

Values represent the highest and most powerful individual capacity for accomplishment. As skills direct the use of physical energy, values direct the use of the psychological energy of the personality. Therefore the highest levels of individual and social accomplishment demand very high values.

It is possible to evolve a formal curricula that does impart the values, attitudes, understanding and decisiveness necessary for achievement and personal fulfillment. In order to do so, it is necessary to fully understand the process of value formation and the ways in which values are acquired.