An Experiment in Education for Tomorrow
An unprecedented kind of experiment in education was launched by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, when in 1943, a school came to be established at Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry with merely 20 students on its rolls; soon it began to grow, and in 1951, when the number of students had increased, and studies in Higher Education had to be organised, it was expanded into Sri Aurobindo International University Centre. Eminent educationists of the country welcomed the formation of this University Centre, and the foremost educationist of the country, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherji, specially came to Pondicherry to preside over the inaugural function, where the Mother inaugurated it and declared that that Centre was conceived as one of the best means of preparing humanity for future that would be marked by the manifestation of a new light and power, — the supramental light and power."*
And the Mother gave a prayer for the students of this Centre, which breathes with ever-fresh courage of youthfulness and which invokes the power to fight the great battle of the future. The prayer reads as follows:
Make of us the hero warriors we aspire to become. May we fight successfully the great battle of the future that has to be
*The Mother declared' as follows: Sri Aurobindo is present in our midst, and with all the power of his creative genius he presides over the formation of the University Centre, which for years he considered as one of the best means of preparing the future humanity to receive the supramental light that will transform the elite of today into a new race manifesting upon earth the new light and force and life.
In his name I open today this convention meeting here with the purpose of realising one of his most Cherished ideals. 24.4.1951.
born against the past that seeks to endure; so that the new things may manifest and we be ready to receive them.
This Centre conducted a programme of experimental research under the direct guidance of the Mother, and it became a laboratory of education for tomorrow.
The size was small and modest: 150 teachers coming from different parts of India and the world as full-time volunteers, having no other thought or even preoccupation than the educational experiment, with their centre of attention on 300 to 600 students.
Teachers received no remuneration, but the Mother provided for everyone of them board, lodging, clothing and other minimum needs of physical life on a very modest scale. Students were largely residents of the boardings maintained by the Centre, looked after by teachers of the Centre. Although there was one vacation of one month a half (November-December), this period was devoted to intensive activities of physical education, so that students largely devoted themselves to physical education, cultural activities and some other academic activities, according to their choice.
Teachers were supposed to be under training, and their work was designed and implemented in the spirit of practical fieldwork. Teachers were of varied background; some of them were even eminent poets, authors, artists, former diplomats, administrators, scientists, technical experts, engineers, linguists, historians or men and women of letters. Several of them has just finished their education at the Centre itself. Some of them were quite raw, although it may be remarked that considering that the educational experiment had an unusual aim, all the teachers were sup posed to look upon themselves as beginners. One former diplomat, who had held a very high position in Foreign Service, was given the task of teaching History at the primary level; a former administrator taught at the kindergarten level or at lower levels of education. In fact, the Mother assigned an extremely important
place to education of the youngest children, and work at lower levels was considered a special privilege.
There was little interference from the parents of the children, although they were furnished with periodical progress reports in regard to their children's activities. Mother had declared that parents should not send their children with a view to getting any certificate, degree or diploma, since education was not meant for passing examinations but for exploring the inner self and for developing inherent capacities and faculties under the pressure of atmosphere, which was specially created by a tremendous force of Mother's Presence and guidance, and activities so organised as to promote the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, courage and heroism, mutuality and harmony, and skills of creativity and productivity.
Mother had also declared that there had to be no compulsion in the process of children's development; children were free and experienced immense joy of freedom. In a prominent place in the Centre, the following words of the Mother gave a warning to teachers: "Ne grondez jamais" (Do not scold, never). The children had free and direct access to the Mother, since teachers were themselves regarded as students and children, having no special authority or status. In fact, students were looked upon as sovereigns, in the sense that every activity of the Centre as those of surroundings was designed as to promote their growth and development; nothing was allowed which was injurious to the physical and psychological health of children. Verily, the entire life of the collectivity was conceived and organised as that of a learning society.
Classes ranged from the kindergarten up to the post-graduation; and although three faculty of arts, science, and engineering technology were prominent, there were no artificial barriers between them, and a very special stress was laid on physical education and on art, music, dance, drama, and various kinds of manual works and crafts. Education was conceived as a free process of growth; education was also conceived as integral education. But integrality was not imposed; it was so encouraged that each child [could experiment with the growth of its faculties without any artificial hindrance or obstruction. Integrality of education was
conceived as a process of organic growth, and the way in which various faculties could be developed and integrated was dependent upon each child's inclination, rhythm of progression and law of development, swabhava and swadharma.
Integral education was not conceived as a juxtaposition of a number of subjects and even juxtaposition of varieties of faculties. The idea was to provide facilities for varieties of faculties, varieties of subjects and various combinations of pursuits of Knowledge, Power, Harmony and Skill in works. These faculties were so provided that they could be made use of by each student and the teacher so that a natural process of harmonious development could be encouraged.
In regard to physical education, facilities included those relating to gymnastics, athletics, aquatics, combatives, games — Indian and Western, and Yogic asanas. Beautiful playgrounds and sports grounds were developed, and the timetable was so designed that from 4.00 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., students were freed from burdens of academic studies, and even of homework, so that they could participate in various activities of physical education. Physical education was not conceived as pastime but as a serious pursuit of health, strength, agility and harmonious beauty of the body. Regular programmes were interspersed with periods of competitions, where it was specially emphasised that one should not try to come first but to do one's best. Captains of physical education were themselves so trained as to encourage team spirit and sportsmanship.
In a small book written by the Mother entitled "Ideal Child", it was declared that an ideal child is good-tempered, is game, is cheerful, patient, enduring, persevering, poised, courteous, truthful, modest, generous, fearless and obedient. Code of sportsmanship declared: Keep the rules, keep faith with your comrades, keep yourself fit; keep a stout heart in defeat; keep your pride under any victory; keep a sound soul, a clean mind, and healthy body; play the game. It was further underlined that a good sportsman is courteous, modest,
generous, disciplined and fair.
Every child developed a robust health and strength of the body. It was a treat to see year after year programmes of physical demonstration, which were organised with meticulous care, order and precision accompanied with appropriate music and display of physical abilities of students in a manner that can be described simply as marvellous.
Sri Aurobindo had written on the importance of physical education, and this was sought to be implemented both in word and spirit:
A generalisation of the habit of taking-part in (physical) exercises in childhood and youth and early manhood would help greatly towards the creation of physically fit and energetic people.
But of a higher import than the foundation, however necessary, of health, strength and fitness of the body is the development of the discipline and morale and sound and strong character towards which these activities can help...
Strictness of training, habit of discipline and obedience is not inconsistent with individual freedom; it is often the necessary condition for its right use, just as order is not inconsistent with liberty but rather the condition for the right use of liberty and even for its preservation and survival...
I am concerned here...with the necessity of the qualities they [the sports] create or stimulate for our national life. The nation which possesses them in the highest degree is likely to be the strongest for victory, success and greatness, but also for the contribution it can make towards the bringing about of unity and a more harmonious world order towards which we look as our hope for humanity's future."*
According to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, one aspect of education that is normally neglected but which needs to be
"Sri Aurobindo: The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, Centenary Edition, Vol. 16, p. 2-4.
emphasised is what they call "vital education". Vital education aims at the training of the life-force in three directions: to discover its real function and to replace its egoistic and ignorant tendency to be the master by willingness and a capacity to serve higher principles of the psychological constitution; to subtilise and sublimate its sensitivity, which expresses itself through sensuous and aesthetic activities, and to resolve and transcend the dualities and contradictions in the character constituted by the vital seekings, and to achieve the transformation of the character.
The usual methods of dealing with the vital life-force have been those of coercion, suppression, abstinence, and asceticism. But these methods do not give lasting results and besides, they only help in drying up the drives and dynamism of the life-force; and thus the collaboration of the life-force in self-fulfilment is eliminated.
Experiments at the Centre have shown that right training of the vital is much more subtle and much more difficult, needing endurance, endless persistence and an inflexible will. But many of the methods that are designed to deal with the vital tendencies are found centred upon the mastery over the vital, which the teachers attain with their own vital tendencies towards acquisition, possession, enjoyment and exercise of influence. As the Mother often pointed out, whenever the teacher complained about any given child's misbehaviour, the vibrations of the misbehaviour in the child have an organic connection with similar vibrations in the teacher; therefore, Mother's counsel was that every occasion where children manifested indiscipline or unruly behaviour, the teacher must look within himself or herself and create within oneself such vibrations that would counter against the undesirable tendencies in one's own psychological composition. Teacher's control over oneself would automatically guarantee his or her own capacity to generate self-control among children.
Sri Aurobindo has suggested in his book entitled A System of National Education the following:
Every student should... be given practical opportunity as well as intellectual encouragement to develop all that is best in the
nature. If the student has 'bad qualities, bad habits, bad samskaras, whether of mind or body, he should not be treated harshly as a delinquent but encouraged to get rid of them by the Rajayogic method of samyama, rejection and substitution. He should be encouraged to think of them not as sins or offences, but as symptoms of a curable disease, alterable by a steady and sustained effort of the will, — falsehood being rejected whenever it rises into the mind and replaced by truth, fear by courage, selfishness by sacrifice and renunciation, malice by love. Great care will have to be taken that unformed virtues are not rejected as faults. The wildness and recklessness of many young natures are only the overflowings of an excessive strength, greatness and nobility. They should be purified, not discouraged."*
In regard to mental education, the Mother had written in her small but great book on Education, the following:
A true mental education, which would prepare man for a higher life has five principal phases. Normally these phases follow one after another, but in exceptional individuals they may alternate and even proceed simultaneously. These five phases, in brief, are: 1) Development of the power of concentration, the capacity of attention. 2) Development of the capacities of expansion, widening, complexity and richness; 3) Organisation of one's ideas around a central idea, a higher ideal or a supremely luminous idea that will serve as a guide in life. 4) Thought control, rejection of undesirable thoughts, to become able to think only what one wants and when one wants. 5) Development of mental silence, perfect calm and a more and more total receptivity to inspirations coming from the higher regions of the being."**
*Sri Aurobindo: A System of National Education, Centenary Edition, Vol. 17, p. 211
**The Mother: Education, Vol. 1, pp. 34-5.
Experiments at the Centre have shown that an atmosphere vibrant at once with ideation and silence, an atmosphere surcharged with great thoughts and ideas, as also with synthetic thoughts and integral aspirations are indispensable conditions for the perfect mental education.
At the centre of the experimentation, a special effort was made to present the essentials of Indian culture as also of different cultures, not merely intellectually in ideas, theories and principles, but also vitally in habits and customs, in art, under all forms such as paintings, sculptures, music, architecture, decorative arts and crafts, — and physically, through dress, games, sports, industries, food, and even reconstruction of natural scenery.
Multiplicity of ideas, richness of ideas, totality of points of view, — these were allowed to grow by a developed power of observation and reflection, and care was taken to see that nothing was imposed upon the growing mind and no dogmatic method was allowed which tends to atrophy the mind.
Speaking of the importance of study of languages in connection with mental education, Sri Aurobindo had written as follows:
Our dealings with language are much too perfunctory and the absence of a fine sense for words impoverishes the intellect and limits the fineness and truth of its operation. The mind should be accustomed first to notice the word thoroughly, its form, sound and sense; then to compare the form with other similar forms in the points of similarity and difference, thus forming the foundation of the grammatical sense; then to distinguish between the fine shades of sense of similar words and the formation and rhythm of different sentences, thus forming the foundation of the literary and the syntactical faculties. All this should be done informally, drawing on the curiosity and interest, avoiding set teaching and memorising of rules. The true knowledge takes its base on things, arthas, and only when it has mastered the thing, proceeds to formalise its information."*
*Sri Aurobindo: A System of National Education, Centenary Edition, Vol. 17, pp. 224-25.
A major experiment in education at this Centre was centred on three principles of teaching that Sri Aurobindo has laid down in his A System of National Education. As Sri Aurobindo points out: The first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught; that the teacher is not an instructor or task master, but he is a helper and a guide, and that his business is to suggest and not to impose. The second principle, according to Sri Aurobindo, is that the mind has to be consulted in its growth. He pointed out that the idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parents or teacher is a barbarous and ignorant superstition. He warned that to force the nature to abandon its own dharma is to do it permanent harm, mutilate its growth and deform its perfection, and that there can be no greater error than for the parents or the teachers to arrange beforehand that the given student shall develop particular qualities, capacities, ideas, virtues or be prepared for a pre-arranged career. And the third principle of education that Sri Aurobindo laid down is to work from near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be. In other words, Sri Aurobindo underlined that education must proceed from direct experience and that even that which is abstract and remote from experience should be brought to the ken of experience.
These principles of education have a profound bearing on what Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have called psychic and spiritual education. These two domains bring into the picture all that is central to value-oriented education, and to higher and profounder elements of human psychology. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have advocated new methods that are free from those of dogma, rituals, ceremonies, prescribed acts. Spirituality, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, is a vast domain of the inmost soul, of the immobile silence, of the higher objects of the higher psychological exploration. The justification for psychic and spiritual education rests upon three important considerations: (a) education should provide to the individual a steady exploration of something that is inmost in the psychological complexity of
human consciousness; (b) the most important question of human life is to consider the aim of human life and the aim of one's own life and one's own position and role in the society; and this question can best be answered only when the psychic and spiritual domains are explored and when one is enabled to develop psychic and spiritual faculties of knowledge; and (c) the contemporary crisis of humanity has arisen because of the disbalancement between the material advancement on the one hand and inadequate spiritual progression. If, therefore, this crisis has to be met, development of psychic and spiritual consciousness should be fostered. Unfortunately, spiritual consciousness is often conceived as a denial of material life and concerns of collective life. In Sri Aurobindo's and the Mother's view, however, there is no fundamental opposition between Matter and Spirit. True integrality, according to them, implies rejection of no element in human personality and no denial of anything that .can contribute to the full flowering of faculties of personality.
.Again, according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, psychic and spiritual development cannot be effected without effecting high level development of the body, life and mind, and that the perfection of the body, life and mind can be attained only when the powers of psychic and spiritual consciousness are bestowed upon the instruments of the body, life and mind.
At an important stage of experimentation, the Mother gave the message that while India has or rather had spiritual knowledge but neglected Matter, the West has knowledge of Matter but has neglected the Spirit, — as a consequence of which both India and the West are suffering, the solution would be to develop integral education, which would restore .the development of matter under the guidance and authority of the Spirit.
Earlier, Sri Aurobindo had written in his magnum opus. The Life Divine:
In Europe and in India, respectively, the negation of the materialist and the refusal of the ascetic have sought to assert themselves as the sole truth and to dominate the conception of Life. In India, if the result has been a great heaping up of the treasures of
the Spirit, — or of some of them, — it has also been a great bankruptcy of Life; in Europe, the fullness of riches and the triumphant mastery of this world's powers and possessions have progressed towards an equal bankruptcy in the things of the Spirit... Therefore the time grows ripe and the tendency of the world moves towards a new and comprehensive affirmation in thought and in inner and outer experience and to its corollary, a new and rich self-fulfilment in an integral human existence for the individual and for the race.*
There is a distinction between psychic consciousness and spiritual consciousness, as there is a distinction between spiritual consciousness and supramental consciousness. As the Mother pointed out:
The psychic life is immortal life, endless time, limitless space, ever-progressive change, unbroken continuity in the universe of forms. The spiritual consciousness, on the other hand, means to live the infinite and the eternal to be projected beyond all creation, beyond time and space. To become conscious of psychic being and to live a psychic life, you must abolish all egoism; but to live a spiritual life, you must no longer have an ego."**
As far as the supramental consciousness is concerned, the Mother pointed out that:
The supramental education will result no longer in a progressive form of human nature and an increasing development of its latent faculties, but in a transformation of the nature itself, a transfiguration of the being in its entirety, a new ascent of the species above and beyond man towards superman, leading
Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, Centenary Edition, Vol. 18, p. 9.
**The Mother: Education, Part I, pp. 35-6.)
in the end to the appearance of a divine race upon earth." *
If these three aspects of higher education are to be conducted properly, one must take great care to ensure that methods of religion are not introduced. Religion implies normally the methods of belief or dogma, performance of rituals and ceremonies, and prescriptions of certain specific acts, which are considered to be religious as distinguished from profane.
But what then are the methods that are to be employed in education that must be psychic, spiritual and supramental?
These important questions were the central core of the momentous experiment that was carried out under the direct guidance of The Mother.
There was one view, and it has great force, that there are no special methods, but the teachers must themselves develop higher and higher levels of consciousness and allow them to be transmitted in their activities of education. Among those who held this view, there was a kind of resistance to the proposals that came to be made from time to time by those who laid great value to the development or invention of new methods that could be called appropriate to the development of higher and deeper levels of consciousness. When the conflict between these views rose to a critical point and the question was referred to the Mother, the answer that she gave was that while the development of higher levels of consciousness is of fundamental importance, the development and invention of new methods is also important and indispensable. As she explained, a good teacher can perform his or her responsibilities much better if appropriate methods and appropriate facilities and equipment are developed.
In due course of time, therefore, a flexible framework of education came to be invented, which could facilitate new methods of education that are definitely advantageous both to the teachers and the students in their exploration of deeper and higher levels of consciousness. This came to be called by the Mother "free progress", and she defined it as a process of growth, determined
*The Mother: Education, Part I, p.38.
not by any conventional methods, but by the living and progressive guidance of the inner soul or the psychic being and the Spirit. To discover one's own inmost being, one's own universality, beyond egoism and ego, is the chief aim, and this aim cannot be realised by any mechanical or conventional methods. This is a process of change of consciousness, the methodology of which itself is a progressive change of consciousness; it can be done when teachers and pupils march together truly and sincerely in the task of plunging into the inner depths of the being or rising into the higher peaks of consciousness. As one progresses, one discovers that mechanical methods, which we have normally built up in our methods of lecturing, and imposing syllabi and curricula and in framing methods of evaluation and testing, are an obstacle even though they cannot be totally discarded and have limited uses.
This implied a meticulous and scientifically scrupulous inquiry into the lecture system, syllabus system and examination system. There was a period, in the course of experimentation, when lecture system was completely abolished, except in regard to teaching of languages where listening to the articulation of the language by teachers was found to be useful and necessary. There was a period when all prescribed curricula were discarded, and instead curricula were formulated in accordance with the quest of the students. It was found that students often have certain persistent needs to inquire into questions, which are not normally dealt with by prescribed curricula. While studying a subject in physical sciences, a student became deeply interested in the question: What is at the bottom of the ocean? While studying history, a student became deeply interested in the history of costumes; another became deeply interested in the history of weapons. These are only stray examples. But in a subject like philosophy, at higher levels of education, it was found that everyone of 40 students studying in a class wanted to pursue a question different from those of others, and given the freedom of experimentation, the concerned teacher framed 40 alternative curricula of philosophy and pursued them successfully with results that were amazing. Indeed, when such a freedom is employed, the advantage is
that students are able to pursue their own lines of inquiry, which are directly related to something that is profoundly inward, and therefore, psychic. Another advantage is that students do not have to be goaded, but they become highly motivated, and they are allowed to understand and practise their own processes of education. Students become self-conscious and self-propelling. They also come to understand the interrelationship of topics and studies, and vistas of visions, even holistic visions, begin to unfold on their own. And students are able to progress at their own pace and in the direction that they choose. Freedom becomes the hallmark of the whole methodology, and the task of the teacher is not fundamentally that of a lecturer or instructor but that of an observer and a counsellor. Necessarily, the system of lecturing becomes largely irrelevant when students pursue different subjects at different paces of progression and at different levels. Timetables cannot be arranged, and education really becomes education without walls. And how can there be uniform testing at any fixed time pre determined in advance? The entire examination system, therefore, collapsed, and something new had to be invented.
The story of this experimentation can form a subject matter of a big volume, which can be fantastically interesting and stimulating. But what ultimately emerged after intensive experimentation, struggle and even controversies, was something truly marvellous. We can only indicate a few major elements of a new system of education, which can hardly be described as a system.
The structure came to be oriented towards the meeting of the varied needs of the students, each one of whom has his or her own special problems of development.
It is not merely the "subjects" of study that should count in education. The aspiration, the need for growth, experience of freedom, possibility of educating oneself, self-experimentation, discovery of the inner needs and their relation with the programmes of studies, and the discovery of the aim of life and the art of life — these are much more important, and the structure
must provide for them.
In this system, each student is free to study any subject he or she chooses at any given time, but this freedom has to be guided; the students should experience freedom, but it must not be misused. The student has, therefore, to be watched with care, sympathy and wisdom. The teacher must be a friend and a guide, must not impose himself, but may intervene when necessary. The wastage of opportunities given should not be allowed indefinitely. But when to intervene depends upon the discretion of the teacher.
A great stress falls upon the individual work by the students. This individual work may be a result of the student's own wish to follow a particular topic of interest, or it may be a result of a suggestion from the teacher but accepted by the student. It may be of the nature of a follow-up of something explained by the teacher, or it may be of the nature of an original line of inquiry.
This "individual work" may be pursued in several different ways:
- by quiet reflection or meditation
- by referring to books or relevant portions of books suggested by the teacher;
- by working on "worksheets" prepared for the students by the teachers;
- by consultation or interviews with the teachers;
- by carrying out experiments;
- by solving problems;
- by writing compositions;
- by drawing, designing, painting, etc.;
-by any other work, such as decorating, cooking, carpentry, stitching, embroidery, etc
There are topics in each subject where lectures are useful, and for these topics, lectures can be organised but these lecture classes have to be comparatively fewer than those obtained in the ordinary system. This often necessitates the announcement of timetables every week.
There are also classes of discussions between teachers and students and between students and students. These discussion classes again are not compulsory. However, discussions do not
pertain merely to academic subjects; they often centre round the individual needs of growth, and thus they provide an opportunity for guiding the students in their inner search.
In each subject, there are topics, which more easily yield to the project system; teachers, therefore, announce a few projects in each subject, and students according to their choice select at least a minimum number of projects for which they collectively or individually work and produce charts, monographs, designs, etc., which are periodically exhibited for the benefit of the whole school.
Experiments in the lecture system, syllabus system and examination system can be considered to have resulted in the following suggestions for education for tomorrow:
The lecture system will no more be given the central place. Lectures will be used mainly for:
(a) introducing a subject;
(b) stimulating interest in a subject;
(c) presenting a panoramic view of the subject;
(d) explaining general difficulties or hurdles which are commonly met by a large number of students in their work or studies;
(e) creating a collective atmosphere with regard to certain pervasive ideas; and
(f) initiating rapid and massive programmes of "training".
Similarly, the syllabus system will also undergo a radical change. A syllabus as a general panoramic view in the vision of the teacher and as a guideline for the student has a legitimate function, and this has to be preserved. But in the actual operation of the educational processes, there have to be what may be called "evolutionary syllabi". A syllabus should grow according to the needs of the inner growth of the student; and the student should be free to develop and weave the various elements of his work and studies into a complex harmonious whole.
It may be noted that it is in this setting of "evolutionary syllabi' that we can truly fulfil the needs of multi-point entry system. Again, it may be noted that it is in this setting that we could have flexible programmes of work and studies suitable to different
categories of students, and thus we can have a flexible pattern of education in a general framework which can cater to the needs not merely of a small percentage of students who may be ready and fit to reach the higher levels of academic education, but also of a large number of students who may remain in the educational system only for 4 years, 7 years or a little more. The central point is that the educational programme, whatever its duration, should aim at providing to the students a real base for three things:
(i) art of self-learning and continuing education
(ii) art of noble life, and
(iii) art of work.
Finally, in the proposed organisation, the examination system will also under a radical change; Tests will be used mainly for:
(b) providing opportunities to the students to think clearly and to formulate ideas adequately,
(c) achieving precision, exactness and mastery of details,
(d) arriving at a global view of the subjects or works in question,
(e) self-evaluation, and
(f) gaining self-confidence.
Tests will be woven into the learning process and each should be given test when it is needed and when the student finds him self or herself ready for it. The central thrust will be to develop among the students the noble qualities such as those of truthful ness, sincerity, cheerfulness, benevolence, right judgement, sacrifice, cooperation, and friendship.
Tests for placement in the employment market should be con ducted by a National Testing Service, and they should open to anyone who wants to take them. These tests should be related to specific jobs or employment opportunities or certain specific pursuits of studies and disciplines of knowledge and skills. These tests should be rigorous and must test not only powers of memory but of comprehension, practical work, physical fitness, creativity and value-orientation.
The role of the teacher in this system is:
To aid the student in uncovering the inner will to grow and to
progress — that should be the constant endeavour of the teacher.
To evolve a programme of education for each student in accordance with the felt needs of the student's growth; to watch the students with deep sympathy, understanding and patience, ready to intervene and guide as and when necessary; to stimulate the students with striking words, ideas, questions, stories, projects and programmes; — that should be the main work of the teachers.
But to radiate inner calm and cheerful dynamism so as to create an atmosphere conducive to the development of higher faculties of inner knowledge and intuition; — that may be regarded as the heart of the work of the teachers.
An adequate organisation of the above working of the Free Progress System would need the following:
- A Room or Rooms of Silence, to which the students who would like to do uninterrupted work or would like to reflect or meditate in silence can go as and when they like;
- Rooms of Consultations, where students can meet their teachers and consult them on various points of their seeking;
- Rooms of Collaboration, where students can work in collaboration with each other;
- Lecture Rooms, where teachers can hold discussions with their students and where they can deliver lectures — short or long — according to the need.
The study of each subject can be so directed that it leads ultimately to the discovery of the fundamental truths underlying the subject. These fundamental truths form ultimately a unity, and at a higher stage of philosophical study, this unity would itself con tribute to the deepening of the sense of Truths which directly helps in the maturity of the psychic and spiritual or yogic aspiration.
The sense of the unity of the truths would also contribute to the reconciliation of the various branches of Knowledge, thus leading to the harmony of Science, Philosophy, Technology and Fine Arts. In the spiritual or yogic vision, there is an automatic perception of this unity, and in the teaching of the various subjects the teacher can always direct the students to this unity.
There are golden reaches of our consciousness, and from them
and from the reaches intermediate between them and our ordinary mental consciousness there have descended forces and forms, which have become embodied in literature, philosophy, science, in music, dance, art, architecture, sculpture, in great and heroic deeds and in all that is wonderful and precious in the different organised or as yet unorganised aspects of life. To put the students in con tact with these, Eastern or Western, ancient or present, would be to provide them with the air and atmosphere in which they can breathe an inspiration to reach again to those peaks of conscious ness and to create still newer forms and forces, which would bring the golden day nearer.
The teachers and scholars at the Centre were preoccupied with this work, and the research work was contained in the actual con tents of the day-to-day work, in their task of consultations and in their organisation of exhibition, dance, drama, music and numerous other educational activities. It is in the context of this vibrating and powerful process of the psychic and spiritual education that the activities of the physical, vital and mental education were pursued and worked out at this great Centre of experimentation.
It is often asked whether having invented a new framework, a new way of free progress education, it can be sustained and replicated. The answer is in the affirmative, but considering that human nature tends to lapse into set routine, into mechanical processes, which can be easily be repeated, into artificial standardisation, what is needed is persistent determination on the part of the partners of education not to allow this tendency. This is not an easy task. But if it is realised that the alternative to this new model of education is what obtains today, which tends to become more and more dysfunctional, then the needed aspiration can be kept alive. If this is coupled with certain reforms at the national level, then indeed, this »y new model can be made operative on a large scale and on a durable basis.