Relation of Ethics and Education
Ayatullah al-Uzma Naser Makarem Shirazi
The most important issue that a man faces with is education. Rather, if we consider education in its broad sense, we shall say that the purpose of creation of beings of the world is education.
All attempts of divine prophets, scientists and great men of history have been devoted to this purpose, and for creating a human, fertile, secure and safe and finally prosperous and happy society, there is no alternative save "correct education" and mobilization of all powers and facilities in this way.
In the moral discussions too, after description and explanation of all good and bad moral habits, the reasons for their formation and development, and way of achieving good morality, and challenge with the vices, the final aim is education.
What is education?
Some psychologists define education as "readiness for achievement of the truth and undertaking responsibility in the future life".
While others have introduced education as "manifestation of talents and realization of internal powers".
Some others, like John Dewey, the famous psychologist, have assumed education as "revision in the experiences of the past and their re-formation for making the experiences more meaningful, and making the individual ready for guidance in the future experiences".(1)
We believe that the above triple definitions may refer to one reality, and in fact the third definition is the principle of that reality, and the first is its introduction and the second is its result.
Furthermore, for clarification of the third definition, it should be explained that a man performs two types of actions:
1- Educational actions
2- Regular, aimless and non-educational actions
In the second type, one either do not know the quality of cause and effect relations at all, or does not know its limits, just as one does not know how to turn on a lamp or a factory, and puts his finger on the key without information and previous experience. But after perceiving this cause and effect relation, and revising in his previous experiences, and reforming them, this action will be educational for finding a broader sense and meaning and making him ready for the future, and consequently he refers to the key for turning on a lamp without being wandered.
The Holy Qur'an and education
The phrases like "purification" and "exit from darkness to light" are applied instead of education in Quran. One of the following two verses refers to "genetic education" and the other to "legislative education":
It is He who blesses you, and His angels, to bring you forth from the shadows into the light.(2)
We know that God's bless to His servants is his mercy and favors, and angels' bless seems to be the same mercy and blessings which are bestowed to the servants by angels, both having a genetic aspect and anyway their aim is leading from darkness of aberration towards the light of guidance.
It is He who sends down upon His servant signs, clear signs, that He may bring you forth from the shadows into the light.(3)
In the above verse too, which refers to legislative education, leading from darkness to the light is considered as the purpose.
It is induced from this interpretation that a non-educated man resembles one being in absolute darkness. Such person possesses several potencies and talents but does not have any power for leading them, and orienting towards a goal. He can neither adopt a clear way, nor attain to the destination.
But when he is educated and trained, it is alike to going from darkness into the light. Light is the means of training and development and appearance of talents, and the means of leadership and orientation and targeting, and so all concepts and meanings of education are included in this interpretation.
Personality and character
The term "personality" is not only used in the scientific, psychological and moral discussion environments, but also people always emphasize on it in their daily utterances and almost everybody knows its meaning. However, the precise, clear and detailed definition of the term "personality" is very difficult, and for this reason, today psychologists have introduced very different definitions for it, and it is interesting that according to one of the psychologists, hundreds definitions are presented by scientists for this term that each of them has studied this complicated concept from a particular point of view.
From among the suggested definitions, followings could be taken into account:
1- "Personality is the total of all effects of an individual in the society", and in other words, "personality of each individual is his social effect".(4)
The problem of this definition and such like is not merely for the point that it denies existence of personality in the individuals not having a social effect (like dissociable and seclusive or disabled persons). Rather, it is for this reason that personality in this definition has only a "practical" aspect, not "descriptive". While usually personality is considered as one of the mental qualities.
2- "Personality is the general quality of an individual's behavior which is manifested in his specific habits, thought and interpretation, desires, procedure of action and philosophy of life".
Although this definition, which is narrated from "Marcois", the famous psychologist, is free from the problem of denial of personality in the dissociable individuals, but it shares with that definition in view of giving an active or passive aspect as well as external effect and impression to personality.
3- The other definition being presented by some of psychologists is that "personality is the internal discipline of motives, reactions, perceptions and remembrances which determines man's manner in the behavior".
Since this definition pays attention to internal and descriptive aspect of personality is free from the previous problems, but if we say: personality is the total of attributes, conditions and mentalities having a humanistic value which could be the source of valuable individual and social external effects, it will be closer to its real sense.
Character: Most of psychologists have applied "personality" and "character" in the same meaning, and assume both of them as indicating the same reality, but some of recent psychologists have considered a difference between these two terms, and have selected "character" for the moral aspects and virtuous habits and vices. In other words, character is for evaluation of personality with the moral scales that is goodness and vice, while they consider personality as indicator of all mental, moral, intellectual, emotional and even physical qualities.
Relation of education and personality
Whatever we define "personality", it has a very close relation with "education" in any sense.
In fact, there are two types of education: either as a means of blossoming of innate personality of individuals (and thereby considering personality as a talent and potential for everybody), or as a means of developing it (if we consider all or a part of man's personality as developmental), and in both cases, it has a close relation with education.
Studying about personality of those who have been far from human society due to some events and have grown among the animals from childhood, and their surprising condition and their weakness in perceptions is one of the most manifest reasons for relation of personality and education.
And also obvious difference of nations being in equal conditions and levels almost in all aspects, which one of them has rapidly preceded the other, and has progressed towards perfection for having a competent leader, is another proof for the role of education in the situation of individual and society.
Obvious distinction between similar individuals being grown in different environments, and or one individual being exposed to two different environments and such like are all good evidences for strong relation of personality and education, and remind man the utterance of the scholar who says: Leave some children to me and tell me to nurture them with any mentality you may desire: brave, coward, generous, stingy.
Factors comprising personality
There are numerous factors effective in man's personality, and numerating them is not so easy, but the most important of them are:
1- Creation (physical and mental structure)
3- Secretion of glands
5- Family environment
6- Situation of social life (occupation, situation of city and country, propagation systems, government, economical situation)
8- Companions and friends (neighbors, partners, schoolmates)
9- Suggestions (by oneself and others)
10- Studies and mental foods
11- Unpredicted events
12- Will and intent of man and his attempts
It goes without saying that since there is a close relation between personality and education, we may call all above factors educative in one respect.
Studying above twelve issues forms an independent science which could be studied separately under the title of "man and educative concerns". We hope to have this opportunity in the future.
1- Ali Shariatmadari, Principles of Education, summarized
2- The Allies sura (33), verse 43
3- The Iron sura (57), verse 9
4- Developmental Personality, page 453