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Educating for Happiness

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Educating for Happiness

Education is the formation of the integral man. It involves the formation of the total person, both his material and spiritual nature, to enable him to realize or fulfill the end of his life. This end has been made part of man’s very nature and thus is something that can be known and felt by all. Everyman has a natural inclination for two things. First, he is inclined to search for a being that is greater than him. This refers to man’s tendency to attribute experiences from within and without to a being that is higher and external to him. This is the natural inkling of man of the existence of God. Second, he is inclined towards happiness. There is a natural tendency for man to do or think of something that will satisfy his desires in life. As man searches for his happiness, he soon realizes that there is nothing in this world that could satisfy his longing for it. Thus, he looks for it outside of himself and beyond this life. He looks for it in God. Thus, the two natural inclinations, man’s search for God and man’s search for happiness, are in fact one and the same thing. Happiness is God. God is happiness.

These thoughts come to mind as one reflects on what Aristotle said about education: The aim of education is happiness. Education then will involve the formation of the faculties of man and gear them towards what will make him happy. It involves orienting the intellect and will of man to their proper objects, the truth and the good, respectively. It should then aim at forming the intellect to know the truth and making the will desire the good presented as truth perceived by the intellect. But as education should affect the life of the whole person, it should not stop at knowing the truth and desiring the good. As man’s dignity, which is rooted in his spiritual faculties, is enhanced through his operation, he has to put what he knows and desires into action and not left in the theoretical sphere. Real education then will employ the interaction of three important elements in life: Values, Virtues and Ethics.

Values as commonly understood is a perceived good that is desired. The good being referred to here is not a particular thing, as Dr. Paul Dumol clarifies. Values are concepts or ideals that a person perceives to be good that leads him to like or dislike particular things. Many people nowadays, for example, could not leave their homes without their cell phones. It shows that they value their cell phone, a particular thing. However, if they lose their cell phones they find ways and means to acquire a new one as a replacement. A common reason people give for having a cell phone is to get connected with their family, friends, business associates and the likes. Thus, we could see that the “value” of the cell phone is not on the cell phone per se but on its use for the person. What the person actually values is communication with other people and it so happen that the cell phone is a good means of achieving it. “The values a person possesses are usually the reason why a person values particular things,” Dr. Dumol writes.

As values are perceived to be in the realm of the inner world of feelings of the emotion, it has the tendency to be subjective and relative. As Friedrich Nietzsche erroneously puts it, “we do not love a thing because it is good; it is good because we love it.” The subjectivity of values obviously denies the objectivity of a thing and proclaims it as something that is projected only by the human will. Life, for example, is something that everyone values but it now depends on whose life we are dealing with. Between the life of a fetus and a dog, some people find the life of the latter more important than the former. It boils down again on the purpose by which a “thing” can be of use to man. Some people may see a dog as a better companion and “friend” than a person, a baby in this particular case, who may be seen as troublesome. That is a good but corrupted value.

Values may be relative in the sense that it conforms to one’s personal upbringing, the culture he belongs to or in the context of the situation one finds himself in. A father may say that he values honesty but when caught for a traffic violation, he may bribe the law enforcer to avoid further inconveniences. Within the person himself, there might be conflicting values depending on the situation he is in. In this situation, the rightness or wrongness of a thing now depends on how the person “feels” about it. That’s relativism. Bohler and Ryan commented that “values promotes subjectivism and mechanical morality that changes with the fashion of the day.” Here lies the danger of subjective and relative values. Thus, values cannot and should not remain in the realm of the emotions or feelings and rely on them in the fulfillment of an action. Man has to have an objective knowledge of what good values one has to acquire. As values give rise to attitudes that in turn give rise to action (Dumol), having wrong values will naturally result to wrong actions.

As values affect the totality of a person, an education in values is of utmost importance. “Values Education is about happiness and the values human beings should have in order to attain it.” (Dumol) And as Aristotle claimed that the aim of education is happiness, we can conclude that the whole educational process is actually Values Education.

Since what is perceived by the emotions is perceived first by the intellect, values is something that can be taught. As the intellect searches for the truth, the educator’s role is to direct the students mind to these truths and at the same time, make their will love them. In this sense, the truth and the good are made synonymous. Regardless of one’s race and culture, there are universal truths that man subscribes to. These universal truths are also called moral values. Mrs. Esteban defined it as follows:

Moral Values are universal truths which man holds to be good and important; they are ethical principles which he struggles to attain and implement in his daily life. They are the ideal which transcend all time and space; those which are valid for al men regardless of race and religion; the ones which unite strangers, families, nations вЂ" all humanity вЂ" with God.”

Although Values Education does not necessarily pertains to God as its end, but rather the pursuit of happiness, Pope John Paul II pointed out that “it will be difficult not to refer to God as He is the ultimate basis of all values.”

A person acts according

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