I had come across a poster, “Dishonest Indians – is the school teaching your child good values?” It became an open discussion and invariably the question raised was the role of schools in teaching good values.

Role models for our children

I believe that with the focus on academics and material success, the niceties of being humane is sidelined. The problem is further compounded by lack of role models. A role model is a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others. Especially by younger people. Unfortunately, the only role models we are currently coming across are ones who are highly successful in the various scams, hit and run instances, ‘you scratch my back, I will yours kind’ or the corrupt political class.

The National Game Plan…

We Indians, have discovered a game which we all play with élan right from childhood and we take special effort to hone this skill at all times. The game of  ‘passing the buck’! The refusal to take the onus of responsibility and finding a scapegoat for our actions is the major character flaw among many of us.

Take the example of a child who falls down, as he takes the first few faltering steps or as she rides her new bicycle. We display our anger on an inanimate object that caused the fall or the nearest person who we could hold responsible. Needless to say our intention is to divert the child’s attention, but very rarely have I found a parent say, “falling is a part of growing up,” thus brushing away the incident as he /she rightly should.

Soon, the child graduates to blaming the peer for lost books or pencils and the partial teachers and tough question papers for missing marks! I am yet to come across a student saying, “These poor marks are a true reflection of my complete lack of preparation.”

My Experience

My friend, otherwise a nice person had this flaw: her complete trust in her only son. Other children got themselves into trouble as the finger was frequently pointed out at them for every mistake, small or big. This lady took up the cudgels on behalf of her son. In an incident, the home alone child dramatized a simple fall and the incident brought home the tendency of the child to pass the buck and ultimately led to his being alienated by his peer group. I have no idea whether the boy outgrew this tendency. Or if the parents ceased to take their son’s words as gospel truth. But the fact remains that many a times it is not schools or any institution but the adult in a child’s life that leads to this dishonest trait in us.

In my early years of teaching, I found myself only dealing with complaints of young students. I came up with a bright complaint box wherein all complaints had to be placed. All matters would be sorted out in the last period of Friday. Trust me, the complaints slowly petered out and by the third week the box was made redundant. The whole episode went on to prove that when we have sympathetic ears, our complaints are usually vociferous.

Children need to be given brownie points whenever they accept their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions both at home and school. Needless to say, the adults should set an example. They should not blame the barking of the dog for the burnt offering on the dining table!

Need to Blow Out Other’s Candle to Make yours Shine!

Taking credit for other’s job is another major drawback among a few of us. Recently, I read an article on how a young girl fresh out of college shared her brainwave with her colleagues. And later found that someone in her group had passed off the idea as her own to the boss. Can we say to the shattered girl, “Welcome to the corporate world!”?

Isn’t it unethical to pass off other’s ideas as your own? Foreign universities take a serious view to plagiarism, and we need to teach our children to exercise self-check. It would also be beneficial if schools encourage projects that demand team effort. This would teach students to be a team player and accept that every drop in the ocean counts.

Art of Sharing!

Sharing of relevant information with your colleagues and employees is another aspect where dishonesty is at its peak. We are fast becoming world class poker champions. We hold important information close to us that we do not mind costing the company big money or holding success at bay all for the simple pleasure of playing power games. It would be beneficial for these power mongers to follow Joseph Badaracco, a professor of Harvard Business School. “In today’s environment, hoarding knowledge ultimately erodes your power. If you know something very important, the way to get power is by actually sharing it.”

Finally, the revival of conducting moral value classes in schools would not be amiss. When I go down the memory lane, I remember some amazing stories told at these classes. I appreciate them more today than I did at that time.

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