In most present-day homes there is no longer the same amount of intimate interrelationship that once was present. The increased tempo of life too often materially reduced or even eliminated the time or the opportunity for such relationships. Because electrical appliances of all kinds—for cooking, dishwashing, laundry work, housekeeping, refrigeration—have materially reduced the time necessary for such responsibilities.
There is actually more time available for home life and for closer relationships. In some homes this “free time” is being utilised to enrich home life and has resulted in closer relationships between parents and children, but in the typical home this is not the case. There seem to be two main factors that are largely responsible for this situation. One of these is the increased participation of fathers and mothers in activities outside the home in social, civic, church, and political affairs. Such activities, for example, those of the parent-teacher association, are often very useful and desirable. The second factor is the increased independence of children which results in a decrease in the feeling of need for help or even for association with parents.
The many out-of-class activities in the school—athletic, musical, and dramatic, school government, social—provide group satisfactions and reduce both the time and the need for companionship at home. At home the children have the radio, the television, and the record player at their disposal, and they need no assistance from their parents to enjoy these facilities. The new kind of less-intimate family seems to have resulted in much juvenile delinquency. If juvenile delinquency is ever to be eliminated, the home and the community must be improved.
As a first step, there must be closer and more effective cooperation of home, school, and community in securing accurate and significant information regarding the conditions and influences that are responsible for the attitudes and purposes of youth. Once identified, these conditions and influences must be changed to provide an environment more conducive to a wholesome life and respect for law. 2. Religious Beliefs and Morals: Yesterday and Today: Another area of great importance in the lives of young people in which there have been far-reaching and significant changes is that of morals and religion.
The reasons for these changes are difficult to determine. Developments in our social, economic, and industrial life probably have contributed to the change, as has the interaction of different beliefs, customs, and morals brought to India from all parts of the world. Whatever the cause, we cannot fail to understand the great importance of different moral codes and religious beliefs to the development of young people, even though both these areas are considered to be the private concern of the family, the church, and the individual rather than of the school. Many people believe that religion has a greater hold on people than it ever has had and point out that the growth in church membership in all denominations has steadily increased and many new churches are being built. We are certain: religious customs have changed. The great majority of people are far more liberal in their beliefs and more tolerant of those who do not believe as they do.
Young people are increasingly thinking for themselves and refusing to accept religious dogmas merely because they have been recognised for centuries. In this atmosphere of controversy, of changing beliefs, and of lack of belief, it is small wonder that young people are confused and often unable to adjust properly and to distinguish between transient and permanent values. Wise assistance is needed. Much of this help must be given by the home and the church, but the school also has a responsibility here. Racketeering, graft, and corruption are everywhere apparent, in politics, business, industry, government, and labour unions. Some men become wealthy and powerful not because of their contribution to society but because of trickery, clever dealing, influence, control of the political machine, or even theft, intimidation, or murder. Our legal system is slow, cumbersome, and too often ineffective.
Criminal sometimes escape just punishment because they have money or influence or because of the work of lawyers who pecialize in helping criminals evade the consequences set up by the law. The old virtues of industry, thrift, and honesty have, in some cases, been the actual cause of poverty and suffering. Men who have worked long and hard and who have been thrifty have sometimes been cheated by the unscrupulous and lost their money. They have found themselves poor and ruined not because they were dishonest or prodigal but because they were thrifty and honest. Standards of good conduct are continually changing.
Some conduct that was once considered acceptable is now unacceptable, and what was unacceptable is now acceptable. Some research has suggested that youth indicate relatively little concern about problems of morals and religion or of home and family. Two opposite conclusions might be drawn from these findings. We might say that young people are well adjusted in morals and religion and to home and family since they apparently have few problems in these areas. In other words, young people may not be conscious of problems in these areas because they have little sense of moral obligation and little restraint imposed on them. The mounting delinquency rate among youth might indicate that the second conclusion is correct.
3. The Meaning of Work is changing: During the past fifty years there has been a marked change in the attitude of youth toward standards of accomplishment in schoolwork. In most schools the number of high-school students who have the ambition to do their best in studies is small. Some think that one of the causes of this situation stems from the attitude of workers during the depression of the 1930s.
Unemployment was high, and the government took the responsibility of providing jobs for all. It was difficult to find or create enough jobs for all who needed the income, and, as a result, much of the work was unnecessary, and there were more men on each job than were needed. There was no incentive to do the job quickly or well. A very common sight was that of workers on road jobs leaning on their shovels.
This unfortunate attitude toward work permeated nearly all kinds of public employment and society in general. Still another factor related to this situation is the social pressure not to be different from other members of the group. “Who wants to be a brain?” “I want to be like other people”. To many students in high school it is no longer considered important or desirable to get high marks or to do one’s best— getting by is enough? The climate of the community will determine in large measure what kind of school it will be. Most young people will respond to whatever values are set by their companions, their school, and their homes. To understand the changing meaning of work and accomplishment for our adolescents, we must remember that the adult society created the climate that helped these new and troublesome values to flourish. 4. The Changing Educational Philosophy: One of the most important social changes in recent years has been that in our philosophy of education as it concerns the place of the child in the teaching-learning process.
This change is so intermingled with the changes in the home and in religion and morals that it is difficult to tell whether the changes in the philosophy of education are responsible for the changes in the home and society or the reverse. Formerly, education was the process of passing on to the young the cultural heritage of the past. It was the process of inculcating in the young those habits, skills, ideas, and knowledge’s that were necessary to enable them to take their place in adult society. The central figure in this process was the teacher. The student was the recipient and, as far as possible, passive and obedient. He was thought to be too young to have and voice in determining what he had to do or to learn. Discipline was the process of preventing behaviour that would interfere with this attitude of docility.
The new educational philosophy places the child at the center of the educational process and is concerned primarily with his development, that is, with what he is now rather than what he may become or what society may demand of him. His needs for personal development, his own interests and desires, are dominant. His impulses for action are of extreme importance and should not be unduly restricted. He should have a large part in decisions regarding what he should do—even regarding what he should study. The extreme of this position is that he should not be made to do what he does not want to do. Failures are considered undesirable and should be avoided. Because punishments and restraints are negative, they should either not be used at all or at least be minimised.
The rule of promotion for all is sometimes adopted. Even though some of the extreme implications of this philosophy have not been generally accepted, its impact has been very great. Probably it’s most important implication is the emphasis it places upon the enlarged place of the individual in choosing his own way of life and in selecting his own activities.
Even young children are allowed and often encouraged to make important choices for themselves. Many of these choices may be unfortunate; but when the choice seems undesirable, instead of arbitrarily refusing to allow the child to do what he has chosen to do, we try to help him evaluate the wisdom of his choice. The underlying idea of this educational position emphasises the fundamental purpose of guidance—helping the individual to make wise choices. The necessity for adequate guidance in the very early years of life in order to develop this ability is emphasised. This emphasis is certainly desirable. Some children have been quick to take advantage of this situation in the home and in the school and have become restive under old restraints. Formerly, it was expected that children, willingly or unwillingly, would do what they were asked to do, but now some of them argue about it and often win.
Some more effective guidance is absolutely essential. Many national and local agencies are working hard to solve the problem, and some of the suggested solutions seem to be hopeful. At the root of any successful plan must be some form of intelligent guidance.
The last few years have seen great changes in our society. Adults trying to understand adolescents must take account of the fact that the world of their own childhood is gone. It is not likely to return. If you wish to understand today’s youth, you must first understand his world—however much a stranger you feel in it, however much you may disapprove of some of its elements—for the youth and his world are so much a part of each other that they cannot be known separately.