What Are The Cognitive-Moral Perspectives Regarding The Current Scenario Of Education At Schools In India?

What Are The Cognitive-Moral Perspectives Regarding The Current Scenario Of Education At Schools In India?

In the dynamics of the contemporary world, it can be seen that the functioning across many areas are conventional. This conventional approach plays a major role where they are equally beneficial and detrimental in some sense due to their inherent characteristics. The understanding gained from the cognitive and moral developmental theories can be majorly applicable to understand these issues in large number of settings. Educational setting is one among them, where through the understanding gained from these theories, many issues can be addressed by catering to the needs of the students and enhancing their holistic growth. The true purpose of education is to enable individuals understand the dynamics of the world and flourish along different dimensions of their life by helping them lead a healthy and meaningful life. It is education that adds survival value to the quality of living. But due to lack of awareness of certain aspects, the true purpose is hindered amidst the burden of proving oneself. In India, one of the major problem is related to education where either people are not able to gain access to it or people have misunderstood the true meaning and purpose of education which can be reflected in the way the education is provided in schools.
Childhood, as emphasized by many theorists is the most critical stage of development where cognitive development and basic understanding of morality dominates the process. Hence, it is necessary to consider and account for these aspects while designing any educational curriculum. It is important to understand that every individual has their unique potentiality to grasp knowledge and process their understanding of the things around them. Considering this as the main tenet, the designing of the curriculum has to be in a manner that enhances the understanding process of the children while fostering growth. This also has to be considered while addressing any issues in school.

In primary schooling, as children are mostly in their pre-operational stage of development according to Piaget’s theory, it is important for the teacher to consider the aspects of their development and also have an insight that children at this age range, may not have understanding of many concepts. For example, children don’t understand the concept of conservation, reversibility, have poor reasoning and mostly are egocentric, animistic and make use of symbolic play, etc. It is important that a teacher realizes these aspects while designing a curriculum. It becomes equally important for the teachers to address certain classroom behaviors of the children accordingly. As children are mostly egocentric, they are not able to consider other’s perspectives and eventually tend to get into fights. From Kohlberg’s theory of moral development, it can be understood that children at this particular stage of their life, abide to the obedience and punishment stage or naively egotistic stage where certain discrepancies are noted in the former stage. Hence, most of their activities are based on their self-interests or due to their judgment of the consequences of their action based on which they are obedient as they understand that punishments would be the consequence if they are not obedient. Teachers should be able to understand this to address certain issues where children get into fights. They can make effective use of the child’s understanding of moral development of obedience and punishment to get them cater to the disciplined classroom behavior. However, as the child grows, the concept of egocentrism becomes more prominent in the child. According to Flavell, it is said that the children develop this theory of mind quite early by the age of 2 itself, where they are able to understand that others have their own perspectives and how their representation influences their views on reality, but fail to understand that it can be about them also. Based on their understanding, they process information. So the teacher should be careful while inducing any kind of disciplinary actions and ensure that it doesn’t negatively affect the child in any manner. It is quite common these days to come across news where the children are abused or severely injured, etc. As children are most vulnerable during this period of their development, their environment has to be nourishing and encouraging which aligns their way of understanding. Hence, accounting for these aspects at primary schooling is important.
In secondary schooling, the children are considered to be in the concrete operational stage according to Piaget. Here, their understanding of conservation, reversibility, transitivity, seriation, classification, etc. develops and hence their curriculum can be based on certain advanced level, which enhances their understanding of the application of these concepts. According to Vygotsky, it is important for the child to have a zone of proximal development, which can be provided in school setting by the teacher using certain strategies while teaching. At this stage, as the children doesn’t develop understanding of abstract concepts, it is better that the curriculum designed is activity based, along with the lecture method and their evaluation pattern designed accordingly by giving equal weightage of practical and theory based aspects which will demonstrate their actual understanding of the concepts. As the children at this stage, enjoy activities, it seems appropriate and nurturing to enable their development by stimulating their metacognitive skills, enhancing their understanding of theory of mind. Here, active learning approach can be majorly employed as that seems relevant to stimulate child’s development.

In higher schooling, according to Piaget’s theory, the children are in formal operational stage where the characteristics of hypothetic-deductive reasoning and propositional thought is developed where students are able to understand the abstract concepts and their application. Hence, the curriculum at this level can be project based with emphasis on reciprocal, collaborative and co-operative learning. Here, teachers can stimulate interactions among students where students also learn the values of intellectual humility and respecting others that will help them grow as a person. At this age range, mostly the students would have conventional morality where they are oriented either towards the good girl- good boy orientation or law and social order where they learn conformity, being accepted, etc. The classroom discussions or project-based learning method can be useful. However, the role of teacher as a more knowledgeable individual, strategies like visuals, providing background knowledge, context information, etc. can be used to enhance understanding and growth in the children. At this stage, their post-formal thought starts to begin where the focus on stimulating that as well. These are well supported from biological perspective as well as brain development as occurs gradually which enhances their understanding of concepts that are elaborated based on their experiences. Schools should also focus on educating parents regarding these concepts and should inform accordingly about the strategies of the education. As the development is not just restricted to school, but also at home, parents should have an insight regarding these aspects and provide a nurturing environment for the child. However the competence and grading system should also undergo certain modifications where equal weightage should be given to qualitative and objective facets of development. Here, constructive approach of education seems more relevant as that can foster the holistic development of the child.

In the demands of the current scenario, it is necessary to account for the concepts of cognitive and moral development and accordingly adopt strategies and shape child’s development. Considering, all the issues like lack of awareness, poverty, socio-economic status, etc. it is important to address issues and design curriculum in a manner that doesn’t trigger any kind of social issues but rather foster growth. Certain steps has to be taken by government as well, but at the same time, it is duty of every responsible citizen to help address issues like this and understand the true meaning of education and contribute to the society’s development. These aspects of cognitive and moral development from Piaget, Flavell, Vygotsky and Kohlberg seems more appropriate to address certain issues and design curriculum in the current setting of education with emphasis on both active learning and constructivist approach accordingly. “Education should be that zone of proximal development that should assist an individual become a healthy, reliable and independent being with the help of educational system as the more knowledgeable other with educational strategies being the scaffolding strategies”. This would not only nurture development but also enhance holistic growth of every individual creating a healthy society.

About the Author

Sharmistha Mondal
Student.

I'm currently pursuing a career in Mental health profession. I have completed my undergraduation in BSc. Psychology Honors and at present doing MSc

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