Notes Relating to Philosophy of Education and Life
Perennial Aims of Education
There are three fundamental ideas underlying the educational process. There is, first, the pursuit of man to know himself and the universe and to relate himself with the universe as .effectively as possible. This pursuit constitutes the very theme of human culture, and education derives its fundamental thrust from the cultural setting at a given point of time. Secondly, there is a process of transmission of the accumulated results of the past to the growing generation so as to enable it to carry forward the cultural heritage and to build the gates and paths of the future. And, thirdly, there is in the process of transmission a deliberate attempt to accelerate as far as possible the process of human progress. These three premises provide us with the basic indications of what may be called the perennial objectives of education.
Being at once a product and instrument of culture, education must promote the highest aims of culture, and, in particular, it must encourage and foster the quest for the knowledge of man and the universe, as also the arts and sciences of their interrelationship. Secondly, education should aim at building new bridges between the past and the future. And, thirdly, education should endeavour to discover and apply increasingly efficient means of the right rhythms of acceleration of human progress.
But apart from these perennial objectives, there
are, in every age and in every important phase of transition, certain special objectives relevant to certain special needs. And, from this point of view, there are at least three emerging objectives, namely, education for peace, education for development, and education for the integral growth of personality.
Let us dwell briefly on these objectives so as to clarify what they really signify and mean.
Education for Peace
An elementary condition in which man finds himself in his relation with his fellow-beings and the world is that of struggle for existence. This struggle is often portrayed as a battle between the creature and Nature. But while we may not belittle the role that is played by the sense of battle and conquest that seem inherent in certain stages of human endeavour we observe that as man becomes increasingly self-conscious there grows in him an irresistible tendency to learn the laws of harmony of himself with the universe. In recent times, however, a new dimension has been added because of the increasing world-tensions which have reached such a high pitch that the human survival itself has become endangered. This has led to the realization of an imperative need of directing our efforts to generate and strengthen forces of understanding, harmony and peace.
Peace is sometimes conceived negatively so as to mean — mere absence of war. But peace is fundamentally a positive concept, and while in the highest sense it refers to 'peace that passeth understanding', it is, in the context of dynamism, the stable foundation of all harmonious activities. Peace is a positive striving, and in the present condition of the world, this striving
implies a rigorous pursuit of international understanding and cooperation. In the field of education, this implies an international dimension and a global perspective at all levels and in all its forms. It also implies understanding and respect for all peoples, their cultures, civilizations, values and ways of life, including domestic ethnic culture and cultures of other nations. At a deeper level we should mean by international understanding not merely knowledge of other countries' cultures and peoples, but also a responsible commitment to the idea and practice of the Family of Man. In other words, international understanding should mean a commitment to that mode of consciousness in which mutual dependence of each upon all and of all upon each is indispensable.
Indeed, international understanding does not emerge merely from exchange of ideas but it emanates fundamentally from an increasing exploration of man within himself and from a discovery of the inner identity and universality of man. A divided man is not only at war with himself but is also at war with others. Again, it is largely man's ignorance of himself and his own incapacities which condemn him to respond to outside influences which engender divisions, tensions and discords. Finally, it is man's failure to discover any durable meaning or aim of life that reduces him to become a plaything of the forces of degeneration, decay and destruction. An integrated man, in possession of himself and set in dynamic search of knowledge and power in service of the highest conceivable aim of life, can effortlessly become a potent instrument of harmonious relationships and of peace. It follows, therefore, that the promotion of education and training so as to multiply human beings of this kind is evidently
one of the most important objectives that the contemporary teacher is called upon to promote.
We may even go farther. Today the ideal of human unity is more or less vaguely making its way to the front of our consciousness, and the increasing advocacy of the world peace is preparing a firm foundation for the realization of this ideal. The intellectual and material circumstances of the age have prepared and almost imposed this ideal, especially the scientific discoveries which have made our earth so small that its vastest kingdoms seem now no more than the provinces of a single country. But it is necessary to remember that when material circumstances favour a great change but the heart and mind of the race are not really ready, failure may be predicted. Indeed, this failure can be prevented if men become wise in time and accept the inner change along with external readjustment. And it is here that education can play a crucial role, since it is through education that the heart and mind of the race can most effectively be made ready for the needed change.
If we examine closely, we shall find that the growing search for the unification of mankind reveals one basic tension. This tension results from two opposing but equally powerful tendencies, the one towards uniformity, and the other towards unity. The two seem similar to each other and yet they engender such dissimilar consequences that it becomes necessary to recognize the dangers of the one and the difficulties of the other, and to conceive or design appropriate lines of action. In doing so, care should be taken to recognize the needs and truths of collective life of mankind. Uniformity, if led to its logical extreme, would impose
not only the rule of one language, but also the overpowering dominion of one aspect of culture. Unity, on the other hand, would permit differences and differentiations which would pose difficulties of separativeness and psychological tensions. Yet, unity in diversity is preferable to uniformity; for while the problems arising out of uniformity seem to demand an unacceptable solution which would imprison for ever the freedom of the human spirit, the problems arising out of the drive towards unity seem capable of a solution, which requires difficult but attainable cultivation of the deeper and higher faculties of personality. The task before us is, therefore, to prepare men and women in such a way that the preferred ideal of unity can be realized without the avoidable pains of conflicts and tensions.
Education for Development
Man's increasing capacity to change or determine the conditions of his life has been responsible for his continuous progress and his thrust towards the future. To develop this capacity has been one of the perennial objectives of education. But since the industrial revolution, and increasingly since the subsequent revolutions, man's pace of progress has grown manifold, and his thrust towards the future has become more persistent and more deliberate. It is in this context that education for progress and development has emerged as one of the major objectives of education.
Development is, however, an ambiguous concept and needs to be clarified. Development may sometimes come to be identified with the growth of excessive consumption, competition and self-assertiveness. To the rationalistic and idealistic mind, this concept is
decidedly negative. A more acceptable concept of development involves two ingredients: productivity and social justice. In recent times, the insistence on social justice has grown and it is even felt that social justice must precede economic growth. Again, social justice can be conceived in terms of several alternative frameworks of economy and polity, although the increasing tendency today is to combine democracy and socialism and to aim at the synthesis of liberty, equality and fraternity.
But what exactly should we mean by combining democracy and socialism? We should mean by democracy not any particular form of economic or political framework but the freedom of the individual to grow towards his self-perfection by means of self-determination. Similarly, we should mean by socialism not the deification of the state but a cultivated awareness of the collectivity and a voluntary subordination of the individual to the needs and decisions of the collectivity as an integral part of the process of the individual and collective perfection. Or, in other words, when we speak of democratic socialism, we should mean a state of existence where collectivity respects the freedom of the individual in his pursuit of perfection, and where the individual freely sacrifices his narrow interests and his egoism in the interests of the development of the collectivity.
Development ought to aim at the growth of this kind of inter-relationship between the individual and the collectivity. But even this is not enough. Development needs the promotion of science and technology.
Fortunately, science and technology have reached
today amazing heights of achievement. But in order that the pace of progress is enhanced, there must be a positive encouragement to the development of scientific temper and to the right use of scientific and technological knowledge in solving both our economic and cultural problems. This encouragement can best be expected from the teacher, and this is what is rightly expected from the contemporary teacher.
The development of scientific temper often remains confined to the cultivation of a mere attitude of questioning. But there are four important ingredients of scientific temper and all of them need to be developed as adequately as possible. These are: impartial observation, untiring experimentation, unprejudiced consideration of every point of view relevant to the enquiry; and courage to go to the end of the enquiry until the ascertainable truth emerges through a process of verification and utmost possible synthesis of arguments and counter-arguments.
The development of a robust but refined scientific brain is an undeniable necessity. By implication, it follows that the contemporary teacher is required to endeavour to embody in himself the ideal modes of scientific thinking and to practise scientific method in his quest of knowledge.
Sometimes a sharp contrast is drawn between creativity and scientific attitude. Often this contrast is portrayed to show a conflict between art and science. But if we look into the problem closely, we shall find that this conflict is imaginary rather than real. As a matter of fact, science itself can be conceived as a creative activity. For creativity is, in its essence, an outpouring expression of curiosity or urge that issues
from an intimate experience or from some achieved fullness or irresistible need for fullness. In this light, science, no less than art, is a creative expression, and even when the scientific method insists on an austere and colourless adherence to facts, the rigorous discipline of science can be sustained only by the creative impulse. And we cannot forget to note that the framing of hypothesis which is a part of the process of scientific induction requires on the part of the scientist a fertile but rigorous imagination. We may also note that adherence to facts is itself an act of disciplined creativity, since, in order to arrive at facts, the scientist needs to pierce through; the veil of appearances.
It must, however, be admitted that artistic creativity is a neglected area, and a great effort is needed to promote, in particular, the value of art. It is also time that teachers are asked to evolve ways and means by which educational process is transformed into creative experience. This is particularly necessary when we speak of weaving culture into education. It is necessary that our educational system should provide opportunities and conditions under which the faculties of imagination, of adventure, of profound sensitivity, of colourful and rhythmic expression can grow and blossom. We have been neglecting literature and poetry, painting and music, dance and drama. The minimum that is necessary, and which should find a legitimate place in any scheme of education is the appreciation of art.
It needs to be underlined that one cannot appreciate art unless one has practised one's own discipline as a creative activity or practised some art,
at least, as an amateur. Mere information on creativity is not enough. What is basically required is some direct experience of painting or music or dance or drama or architecture or poetry. It has been said, and quite rightly, that cultural experience grows and develops under the sense of leisure. But our educational programmes are not designed with a view to permit the required interweaving of leisure with activities of rigorous and disciplined studies. It is for this reason that it has been contended that our educational system has succeeded in exiling romance of learning and joy of creativity from the portals of learning. It is high time that this situation is reversed, and once again the major responsibility for this comes to be fixed on the contemporary teacher.
Development needs also to be related to the highest conceivable principles and values. These belong to the realms which are not necessarily visible physically but which are approachable more easily through the mind and the spirit. If we examine this domain closely, it will become clear that we are here in need of a new programme of research. If this research comes to be encouraged, we might not only discover new and rich contents of the ethical and spiritual domains but we might also open up a new domain where the modern trends of science can meet and converge on the ancient and renascent knowledge of the secret of spiritual perfection.
But here, again, we begin to make a very heavy demand on the contemporary teacher.
Education for integral Personality
There are various notions of what constitutes personality. Sometimes a distinction is made between
personality and character. In one view personality is regarded as a fixed structure of recognizable qualities expressing a power of being and individuality. According to another idea, while personality is a flux of self-expressive or sensitive and responsive being, character is formed fixity of a pattern or structure of qualities. But if we examine the matter closely, we find that there is in every one a double element, the unformed though limited flux of being out of which personality is fashioned and the personal formation out of that flux. The formation may become rigid and ossify or it may remain sufficiently plastic and change constantly and develop. But for a proper definition of personality, we should take into account not only this flux and this fixity but also a third element, the individual or the person of whom the personality is a self-expression. This individual is sometimes conceived as the ego. But ego, when examined critically, reveals itself as a finite looking at itself as self-existent and yet unstable in its status and its movement—a self-contradiction. According to certain dominant trends of Indian thought, there is a distinction between the ego and the individual. The egoistic personality is, according to this thought, a personality that is at war with itself. The true individual is harmonious, and it admits its dependence upon the whole, and lives in and through relations of mutuality and harmony. It is the discovery and development of this individual that is relevant to the integration of personality.
It has been suggested quite rightly that the most important exercise that is directly relevant to the growth of integral personality is to examine life and to discover the highest possible aim of life.
Throughout the history of awakened thought, there has been a persistent questioning as to what is the aim of human life.
Free from dogmas and fixed beliefs, an intellectual enquiry into the ultimate search for the aim of life must be carried out in the spirit of sincere exploration...
unfettered by narrow or exclusive assumptions. Answers have been derived from morality, religion or spiritual experiences and are accessible to our rational understanding.
The inquiring mind needs to reflect on these answers and arrive at its own conclusions.
This should a journey of free exploration into the theme of the aim of life...
In the course of history,
there have emerged four main theories of the aim of life,
in accordance with four different conceptions of the truth of existence.
(The Supra Cosmic View)
In the Supra Cosmic View the supreme Reality is alone entirely real and human existence has no real meaning.
The world is an illusion from which we have to awaken.
The recommended path is that of renunciation and rejection of physical life and matter.
(The Cosmic Terrestrial View)
The Cosmic Terrestrial View is the exact opposite.
It considers cosmic and physical existence as the only reality.
Earth is the temporary field; but there is no other permanent field..
Humanity and its welfare and progress is the largest field and man is the highest possible form of existence.
(The Supra Terrestrial View)
The Supra Terrestrial View believes in the immortality of the human spirit in which earth is the place of trial, from which man has to painfully disentangle himself so that he may gain immortal life elsewhere.
The emphasis is on the development of the ethical and spiritual being as a means of ascending to heaven or supra terrestrial planes.
(The Integral View)
The Integral View is that there is the Divine Reality which manifests itself as the universe in a system of planes or worlds.
Earth life is the scene of the evolutionary unfolding of the Divine Reality.
There is an all-seeing purpose in the terrestrial creation.
A divine plan is working itself out through contradictions and perplexities.
All that is intermediate between Spirit and Matter has also to be perfected
and brought into unity in complete integration.
To discover the Divine Reality and to work for its full manifestation in physical life is the Integral Aim of Life.
All life must be transformed by the highest divine light and power.
The educational process should be, as noted above, exploration; and every student should get an opportunity to examine life and its aim in order to a nice of his / her own decision as to what should his / her own aim of life.
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This investigation, if encouraged and promoted rightly and imaginatively throughout the educational process, would go a long way in helping students to develop their personality and to achieve progressively inner and outer harmony and integration.
It has been suggested, again, quite rightly, that the development of integral personality will depend upon a simultaneous development of as many powers and faculties of human personality as possibly can rightly be balanced in each individual. A right balance of the development of body, heart and mind by means of the cultivation of faculties that promote knowledge, power, harmony and skill is the right condition of the integral development of personality. It has been pointed out that if the basic powers of personality are rightly balanced throughout the process of development, and
if a healthy equilibrium of these powers is upheld progressively, then we can ensure a healthy development of an integral personality. There is here a clear recognition that this implies a life-long process of development. but it is underlined that it must begin right from the beginning, and that life-long education is a natural corollary of the idea of the development of integral personality.
A progressive development of various parts of the being, physical, vital, rational, aesthetic, moral and spiritual, is a necessary condition of the integral growth. And the development of faculties and capacities of these various parts of the being is closely connected with the question of value-oriented education. For values are the ultimate ends that personality seeks to embody, express and fulfil. Corresponding to each capacity there are specific values. For instance, corresponding to our physical capacities, there are values of health, strength, plasticity, grace and beauty. Corresponding to our rational capacities, there are values of truth, clarity, subtlety, complexity, impartiality and globality. Corresponding to the capacities of moral will, there are over-arching values of the good and the right. Corresponding to our aesthetic capacities, there are values of beauty and joy. And corresponding to our spiritual capacities, there are values of absoluteness and perfection. The psychological co-relation between the capacities of personality and their corresponding values is often obscured by attempts that confine values exclusively to the domain of morality or by attempts to derive values and morality from a particular religion. It is true that religions prescribe values and very often they
have well-knit codes of moral conduct. However, values are at the same time, so to say, autonomous and are found to be the highest expressions of our psychological fulfilment. They can and do stand apart and independent of any particular code of conduct or any particular system. In education, we should promote values in their psychological aspect as a part of the development of personality.
The role that emerges for the teacher in relation to this objective of the integral development of personality is perhaps most exacting. This role demands from the teacher subtler dimensions. For what is needed here is the involvement of the total being of the teacher and the learner in the learning process. The question here is not merely to deal with subjects and books but also with faculties and capacities, with their growth and their harmony, and with the combined power of concentration and will that need to be developed in various parts and aspects of the growing being. The teacher will need to have not only a high degree of proficiency in his own subject or discipline, but he will also need to arrive, as rapidly as possible, at a considerable maturity of the growth of his own personality, and ~he will need to look upon his work of teaching as apart of the discipline required for the development of his own personality. It is only when the teacher grows in his own personality that he can contribute to the fashioning of the personality of the learners.
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It is universally admitted that the possibility of an acceleration of man's quest of himself and of the universe constitutes the basic premise of all education.
What precisely is man? What is the nature of the universe? And what is the secret formula of the equation of man with the universe? These are the central questions that education fosters, and it carries forward the accumulated answers from age to age.
But how can they be fostered and by what means can the answers be carried forward at the highest possible speed? These constitute the very heart of the problem of the educational process.
Evidently, these are very difficult questions, and the teacher or the educationist, in attempting to answer them, assumes great responsibility for his own age and for posterity.
The task of the contemporary educationist is rendered particularly difficult by the extraordinary conditions of his times. It has been argued that one of the urgent needs of our education is to appreciate the significance of certain combinations of tendencies and circumstances that are developing in the world today; and to allow them to determine the necessary changes in the objectives and contents of education.
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It has been suggested that among all intellectual activities, the most significant one is that of the search for definitions, for meaning, for the highest aim of life. This search is not limited to this subject or that, it does not begin at one stage and end at another. This search is, however, most essential; all syllabi of all subjects can help in this search; but it cannot be restricted within the four comers of any given syllabus.
There are some overall important questions which should be set to stimulate original reflection,
introspection, and a search for meaning. What, for example, is the nature of thinking? How is science distinguishable from mathematics and philosophy? What is the essence of literature and music and art? Is history meaningful? Is there an aim in history? What is technology? What are the best methods of learning technology? What is truth? How do we know truth? And how best can we serve it? What is one's specific role in the progress of the world? And how can one train oneself to fulfill this role? What is action? How does one remain calm even in the midst of action?
Many of us will find it difficult to answer these questions. These questions are questions for students of all ages, meant to be thought over for years and years. They are like questions of the Book of Nature, which give joy and exercise, but do not pressurize on for answers within a fixed time limit.
The entire movement of New Education is against fragmentation, division and artificiality. Learning by snippets has to go. We make our lessons, most uninteresting, and then complain that the children are not attentive. We not only divide knowledge into artificial compartments, but divide the child also. The new treads oblige us to consider the child as a whole, and to provide for an integral education.
It has been declared that what we need is man-making education. But we cannot make man by lop-sided development, by a mechanical emphasis on one aspect or another. What is important is not so much information, but the power of concentration which can command information at will. Unfailing concentration and irresistible will - this twin power has to be the basis of man-making education, and this has to be
applied to the various functioning of the mind, life-force and body, and, overarching these powers and functioning, there are the domains of the inner and higher personality. There has to be a detailed and comprehensive programme of education. The body has to be trained to develop health, strength, plasticity, agility, grace and beauty. Emotions are to be cultivated for the growth of nobility, courage, leadership and creative action. The mind should be developed to have the power of subtle and complex intelligence, broadness of vision, quietude, intuition and mastery of authentic knowledge. But above all this, there has to be an inspiration to fathom deep and rise high in search of truth and its dynamic execution in life and action.
Man-making education implies a sound knowledge of man and his potentialities. It is significant that modern trends tend towards a deeper knowledge not only of the outer man but also of the inner man. In education too, it is being realized more and more that man is the best subject of study for man.
In fact, it is being suggested that the theme of man and evolution can provide the focal point of a new programme of studies. This would meet the needs of the synthesis of knowledge; and it would enable a synchronization of studies, work experience and the all-round development of personality.
Modern science, in its conception of evolution, finds a converging point of the knowledge of matter, life and mind. At the same time, our Indian theories of evolution have conceived of man as an instrument of further conscious evolution. And latest philosophical speculations, we are told, affirm the idea of evolution, and, in varying degrees, come quite close to the Indian
promise of the future evolution of man into a gnostic being.
This theme is global in character, and its call is to the whole being of man. Once undertaken, it keeps one on the track of continuous self-development and self-exceeding. It can, indeed, be designated as a universal programme of quest.
Education that would yield to these new trends will evidently need a new structure and challenging methods of free and accelerative progress.
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Our pioneering educationists, who strove hard for a system of National Education, had constantly emphasized the need to appeal to the living enthusiasm of children and youth. They had dreamt of transforming the school into a playground, of transforming the school into a nursery of living souls. Are our proposals conducive to the realization of this dream? We feel we need to go still deeper and grapple with problems which are awaiting solution at our hands.
That deeper layer of problems relates to what may be called the very heart of education. And it would seem that unless we concentrate on this focal point, we may not find the right key to any problem. For all problems of education, as of every other field, are interrelated, and they all seem to hang upon this central issue. It is the issue of the infusion of a new spirit in our education. We want an education that will provide not merely information, but a deep inspiration. We want the youth to be inspired wholly in their full being. We want to prepare the youth to be free from dogmatism, communalism, casteism, divisions. We want our youth to be filled with the free man’s
worship of the country, of the spirit of Mother India. We want our youth to be soldiers and warriors to fight against ignorance, selfishness, and all that obscures and obstructs our path to a glorious future of humanity's unity and harmony. We want our youth to be the creators of the new future, but all these great and noble ends can be realized only if we succeed in evoking among the youth a living spirit and a vibrant light. To kindle that light and spirit is the central issue of education.
An answer to this issue is crucial, for that will give us the fundamental direction. There is, indeed, an answer. In recent years it has been put forward forcefully, and presented in glowing terms. But, perhaps, it is not sufficiently understood. There is even an Indian formulation of this answer much more profound and even more practicable. But this Indian answer is unfamiliar, even unknown, to most of us.
In this answer, we may find the remedy. In simple terms, the answer is that education should be So conceived and organized that it permits freedom of growth and fullness of the development of personality. In technical terms of modem educational thought, the answer is contained in the formulae, 'learning to learn' and beaming to be'.
Within the simplicity and brevity of this formulation is concealed an immensity and all-embracing integrality. 'Learning to learn, and 'learning to be' are mot merely two elements among several other elements of education. They are proposed to be all-pervasive processes of the entire education. They are proposed to be also the all-pervasive contents of education. It is not as if the development of
personality is one aspect of education, and the education for profession is another. Education for personality and education for profession are, according to it, one and the same process. It says, in effect, that the secret of profession lies in personality, and that education for personality development, rightly conceived and executed, will automatically and spontaneously provide to each individual what is needed by him for his profession. The technique of of professional technology and that of the flowering of personality are not opposed to each other. In the correct process of education, they are interrelated, they help each other, and ultimately, fuse into each other. Similarly, freedom of growth is not merely a method of growth; it is not as though freedom is one method and discipline is another. What is meant is that discipline is the child of freedom, that freedom, if it is directed towards growth, necessarily flowers into a kind of self-discipline which no rules can envisage or execute. Again, it is affirmed, freedom is not merely a process. Freedom is the stuff of our psychological nature, and that the entire stuff and content of our being can grow and flower only through freedom. Light and freedom are intrinsic to each other, and hence the central significance of the principle of the freedom of growth.
This answer spins us into an altogether new hemisphere of vision. But we should invite the attention of educationists to the Indian experiment which has been going on in remote comers of different parts of the country, quietly and unobstrusively. It may be found that there has emerged, through this Indian experiment, an Indian answer to the problems of freedom and of the development of personality.
The Indian experiment, which had its indigenous origin in the modem renaissance in India and which was nourished by the nationalist movement, has, in due course, deeply absorbed western ideas of New Education. But, at the same time, it has taken great care to integrate them with the profounder concepts of our own educational psychology. For this reason too, the Indian experiment has been rather slow in showing results. For its data are larger and the elements which had to be harmonized more difficult and more numerous. The results of this experiment are valuable, not only for us in India, but for the entire movement of New Education in the world.
The Indian experiment confirms the normal experience that freedom can easily be abused, and turned into a license for self-indulgence. Directing of freedom towards growth is not a sufficient antidote to its possible misuse. At the same time, it confirms that freedom is essentially of the nature of the noblest psychological being. It points out, however, that freedom is only one of the vibrations of our inner being, and that there are two others of the same order; it is only when freedom is united with these that an inner law of discipline can emerge. These two are: the quest for truth and the austerity of harmony.
It proposes, therefore, not liberty alone, but a trinity of truth, harmony and liberty as the fundamental principles of New Education. These three constitute the serenity of the inner being, and if these three vibrate united also in the atmosphere, then, in this serene atmosphere, by the power of inner and outer environment, true knowledge can be stimulated to grow in the inner hearts of the child and the youth.
Similar discoveries and proposals obtain also in regard to the development of personality. For we have, in India, perhaps the most profound science of personality. Indian psychology concerns itself not merely with the development of the total potentialities of personality, but its chief concern has been with the question of how to lead these potentialities to their highest and noblest values.
The mature fruit of the Indian experiment is to be found in the concept of the fourfold personality as a new basis for integral education. It has been pointed out that there are four central values and powers of personality; if these are rightly balanced throughout the process of development, and if a healthy equilibrium of these powers is upheld progressively, then we can ensure a healthy and integral development of personality. These four values belong to our deepest and highest being, but their expressions are to be found, in varying degrees, in all our instruments: body, life and mind. These four values are: knowledge, power, harmony and skill in works. A progressive and rich blossoming of these four values and capacities would result in the fourfold personality, a personality of integral equilibrium.
The full richness of personality is manifested when the heart of love is tranquilized by knowledge into calm ecstasy and vibrates with strength, and when the strong hands of power labor skillfully for the world in a radiant fullness of joy and light.
It is, indeed, recognized that this implies a life-long process of development, but it must begin right from the beginning. Life-long education is the natural corollary of this concept of the integral personality.
The practical implications are tremendous. Not only do they give a new direction and new focal point to education, but they also demand new attitudes, new perceptive and psychological knowledge, and new roles for teachers. They demand, again, an altogether new restructuring of educational methodology, and the creation of a highly imaginative and educational environment.
The task is extremely difficult, but if our analysis of the educational situation is correct, this task must be accomplished. Defeatism or cynicism should not be allowed to interfere in our planning of the future. For the realization of his future, our call must be to Young India.
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It appears that there are three major powers that uplift life to higher and higher normative levels, and the value of these powers, if well illustrated, could be effectively conveyed to the learners for their upliftment. These powers are those of illumination, heroism and harmony.
It may be useful to explore the meanings of these terms - illumination, heroism and harmony - since the aim of these monographs is to provide material for a study of what is sought to be conveyed through these three terms. We offer here exploratory statements in regard to these three terms.
Illumination is that ignition of inner light in which meaning and value of substance and life-movement are seized, understood, comprehended, held, and possessed, stimulating and inspiring guided action and application and creativity culminating in joy, delight, even ecstasy. The width, depth and height of
the light and vision determine and degrees of illumination, and when they reach the splendour and glory of synthesis and harmony, illumination ripens into wisdom. Wisdom, too, has varying degrees that can uncover powers of knowledge and action, which reveal unsuspected secrets and unimagined skills of art and craft of creativity and effectiveness.
Heroism is, essentially, inspired force and self-giving and sacrifice in the operations of will that is applied to the quest, realisation and triumph of meaning and value against the resistance of limitations and obstacles by means of courage, battle and adventure. There are degrees and heights of heroism determined by the intensity, persistence and vastness of sacrifice. Heroism attains the highest states of greatness and refinement when it is guided by the highest wisdom and inspired by the sense of service to the ends of justice and harmony, as well as when tasks are executed with consummate skill.
Harmony is a progressive state and action of synthesis and equilibrium generated by the creative force of joy and beauty and delight that combines and unites knowledge and peace and stability with will and action and growth and development. Without harmony, there is no perfection, even though there could be maximisation of one or more elements of our nature. When illumination and heroism join and engender relations of mutuality and unity, each is perfected by the other and creativity is endless.
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A question that has assumed in our times a great importance in pedagogy is: in what does our true fulfilment consist? And, in that context, what is the
nature and content of that knowledge which all human beings should pursue and possess?
It is, indeed, possible to ask whether the human search can ever truly be fulfilled and whether it is not wise to limit ourselves to some immediate utilitarian or pragmatic goals. As a matter of fact, a large number of pedagogical programmes have been designed in the context of what is pragmatically useful to individuals and to society. This pragmatic approach has its own justification; but is seems that the time has come when deeper questions must be raised and answered.
Considering that there is today an unprecedented explosion of information, one is obliged to ask how one can relate oneself to this explosion in such a way that one is not crushed under the increasing flow of information. On the one hand, there is a pressure towards specialization; on the other hand, a pressure towards inter-disciplinary and holistic knowledge. Knowing more and more about less and less bestows upon the individual a specialized capacity and proficiency but it also creates disabling inefficiencies in respect to larger questions where multi-sided knowledge is indispensable.
The specialized knowledge and efficiency that the individual possesses today tend to become obsolete at a rapid rate. There is, in consequence, and increasing pressure to continue learning all the time. This, however, leaves very little time to expand horizons of knowledge in fields other than that of narrow specialization. With the passage of time, our inefficiency in dealing with the general questions of life goes on increasing. At a certain stage, this situation, if not corrected, can really become alarming.
Crises of various kinds are bound to multiply. This is what we witness today all over the world.
Still something further is there to disturb us in the very heart of our being: the increasing mechanization of life and the increasing tendency to impose mechanical solutions on human problems where they really do not work. Humanity is gradually moving in the direction of dehumanization. It seems as though humanity is gradually sinking into a routine of life that prevents the pursuit of rationality, morality and spirituality. This routine of life is supported and imprisoned by structures or superstructures over which none has any control. This would not matter, to some extent, if human beings were ready to forget their higher dimensions of personality and bury their higher aspirations in exchange for certain pleasures and securities that can be provided by the mechanizing and dehumanizing society with its uncontrollable structures and superstructures. But human beings are complex; they have many parts to their being; they are, therefore, obliged to listen to the conflicting voices arising from their complexities and complications. They are bound to ask whether they are doomed to remain for ever in a state of inner conflicts or whether these conflicts can be resolved in some state of fulfillment. That an increasing number of human beings are consciously experiencing the pressure of inner conflicts is becoming more and more evident and we hear all around the mounting call of the crying soul of humanity.
It is against this background that deeper questions, both of life and education, have become extremely urgent and imperative. The question of
human fulfillment, therefore, is becoming increasingly relevant to post- modem enquiry. The idea that the human being is fundamentally a particle of dust destined to return to dust ― this materialistic view of man — is being increasingly suspected to be a dogma under the pressure of existential problems which we need to deal with the resolve. The idea that matter alone is real is being admittedly found to be untenable because it cannot be verified by any experience and because with the expanding spectrum of data, where supra-physical realities have begun to demonstrate their presence or imprint, a larger non-materialistic formulation has become inevitable.
All this impels us to institute fresh enquiry and research.
We should avoid all dogmatism in our inquiry. Just as we are not selves to the dogmatic refusal of the reality and significance of Matter. In our explorations, we should record the data of various domains of existence and evaluate them by appropriate methods. If this approach does not lead us to any definite conclusions, we should not take recourse to any short-cut methods in order to balm ourselves with ill-gotten certainties. We should prefer to remain in the state of uncertainty and continue to cultivate the attitudes appropriate to open-ended exploration.
We should commence our journey with this indisputable fact of our experience that we find ourselves placed in the universe and that the most natural activity for us is to explore ourselves placed in the universe and the complexities of our relationship to the universe. The task of the educationist is to advise us as to how best we can arrive at the knowledge of
ourselves and the universe and develop the capacities of relating ourselves to the universe so as to make that relationship as harmonious as possible.
We should also bear in mind that our capacities for knowledge depend very much upon the quality of the consciousness with which we approach the activities of knowledge. The universe which looks so beautiful and wonderful to the consciousness of the poet is perceived to be oppressive and awful to an ordinary and weary consciousness. Objects which seem to be opaque and veiled to our superficial consciousness present themselves in their revelatory character to our deeper consciousness. We thus seem to be led to the wisdom of the ancients, who held that while there are several alternative ways of gaining knowledge, the most effective key to knowledge is the development of deeper and higher levels of consciousness. The ancient wisdom goes also further to affirm that there is a knowledge, knowing which every thing can be known, and that the door to that knowledge lies through inmost self-knowledge. This opens out before us a specific line of exploration, and we begin to ask questions as to what is our self and how we can attain self-knowledge.
We note that everyone of us has some kind of self-experience and that much of the effectivity of our action depends upon certain states and qualities of self-experience. The quality of sincerity, for example, imparts to our state of being some kind of indefinable but intrinsically satisfying and effective self-experience.
Having reached this point of exploration, we may be in a position to make one general proposition of fundamental value in pedagogy, which can be stated as follows: "One general aim of education should be
to enable each individual to develop the states of higher and higher degrees of sincerity."
Numerous experiments have shown that wandering thoughts, a multiplicity of desires and the restlessness of impulses are the principal factors that prevent us from having genuine experiences of inner sincerity. One can verify this by simple experiments within oneself. It follows, therefore, that one has to find effective means and methods by which thoughts, desires and impulses can be controlled. In the course of the history of education, many such methods have been attempted and experimented upon. These experiments have revealed that nothing in the world is as difficult as to control oneself and ultimately to arrive at self-mastery and self-perfection. Many experiments have failed because self-control is sought to be achieved through the methods of unintelligent or forceful repression or suppression which tent to weaken or kill the fundamental life-force. It is seen that it is only when we give up repression or suppression and seek to transform life by methods of purification that this problem can be rightly resolved.
Continuing on this track of exploration, we may enter into a vast domain of education that aims at self-knowledge by self-control through methods of purification.
At this stage we may begin to perceive that there are three aspects under which we try to know ourselves. The first aspect is that of our body; the second aspect is the complexity of our drives and urges for action, battle and victory - the complex that is covered under the term "vital being"; and the third aspect is what we call mind, our instrument of conception and ideation,
of reflection and reasoning. But deeper psychological explorations indicate that behind what we experience as our physical being, vital being and mental being, there are as the Upanishads point out, inner sheaths supported by a kind of self-consciousness which sustains and nourishes the inner physical being, the inner vital being and the inner mental being. The data of self-consciousness further reveal to us that there are deeper presences of self-consciousness and deeper powers as also profounder states of intrinsic delight and sweetness which impart to us the experiences not only of the true source of our sincerity, but also of our self-possession and self- identity. We may also discover that the deeper states of the self transcend the ambiguous and narrow movements of egoistic consciousness. We may then come to correct our mistaken idea that ego is the self and we are transported into experiences of what the Upanishads tern antaratman (the inner psychic self) and jiva (the true individual). The Upanishads also tell us of those experiences of the jiva where all is in oneself and oneself is in all. There are still further heights and depths of self-knowledge which open up for our exploration.
Based upon the above explorations, we may come to the conclusion that the most important programme of education that should be proposed to everyone is that of self-knowledge and of self-control. At the same time, we may realize how difficult and complex this programme of education is.
* * *
In spite of the difficulty and complexity of the task, we may decide to undertake the study of all the aspects of education for self-knowledge in some detail
at the present stage and in greater detail at a later stage.
As a first step, we need to concentrate upon the question of physical education as a part of the larger theme of self-knowledge. There is, indeed, a vast literature on this subject, but the aim of our study had certain specific novelties in regard to approach and thrust. Firstly, we need to relate problems and programmes of physical education with deeper questions about the nature of the human body and how its potentialities can be developed through various methods of self-control and physical education, up to the levels of excellence. Secondly, we need to be free from dogmatic views regarding the nature off the body and its relationship to deeper aspects of the human personality. Thirdly, we need to be as comprehensive as possible within our present limitations and thus to include in our studies not only the present system of education but also ancient system, not only Western systems but also some of the Eastern systems. In our search we need to collect a number of relevant books, magazines and articles; we also held several workshops, and interact with a number of experts. As we enter into deeper aspects of physical education, we may feel the need of going still deeper, and indeed, we may feel that this domain will remain with us as a subject of unending exploration.
* * *
Our argument is that everyone should strive for self-knowledge because everyone is and has basically the self. Again, everyone should strive for self-knowledge because self-knowledge, when it reaches high levels of maturity, becomes a sure means of a certain
kind of other-knowledge and world-knowledge. An approach to the universe through the self has, it appears from various data, an advantage in the fact that the universe comes to be experientially possessed by the enlarged and unegoistic identity of the self with the universe. This does not mean that other approaches to the universe through sense-experience, scientific, philosophical or intellectual methods are not legitimate or relevant. Those approaches, too, have their own utility and value. Fundamentally, all knowledge, whether we pursue it through one approach or the other, tends to become one. This is brought out quite clearly by the proximity and even identity of some of the conclusions of the Upanishads, arrived at through intuitive methods of self-knowledge, and of modem science arrived at by methods of experimentation, intellectual ratiocination and empirical verification. In the ultimate analysis, one can adopt any approach that one may feel naturally suited to oneself. At the same time, one thing that stands out is that as far as self-knowledge is concerned, intuitive methods of self-experience become ultimately indispensable.
We consider the knowledge of the human body to be an important aspect of self-knowledge, since everyone experiences one's body, rightly or mistakenly, as a part of oneself. Even when one comes to distinguish between one's inner self and one's body, this distinction is greatly facilitated and confirmed by the process of deeper self-knowledge, during the course of which one is required to admit that without a sound knowledge, control and purification of one's body, one cannot successfully arrive at deeper levels of self-knowledge. In any case, our conclusion is that since
everyone of us possesses a human body, everyone of us should strive to have the basic knowledge of the human body and of the part it has to play in facilitating the acquisition of deeper realms of self-knowledge; we should also know the ways and means by which those deeper realms of knowledge can, in their turn, affect, influence, develop and perfect the functioning of the human body.
* * *
For the last two hundred years or more there has been a growing realization that the teacher should be child-centered and should help the child's innate potential to blossom fully. Learner-centered teaching is being advanced in progressive schools all over the world.
Indeed, if we examine the examples of good teachers of the past or of the present, we shall find that they have always been learner-oriented: and good pupils have blossomed like lovely flowers when tended with care, love and understanding or even when left to themselves with interventions from teachers when necessary.
A good teacher is always a help in the pupil's pursuit of accomplishment and perfection. For the pupil, the important things are his own enthusiasm and personal effort that can sustain patient ant persistent work towards growth and progress. The teacher comes into uplift the pupil's effort, his growing knowledge, his skills, his orientation. When a good teacher and a good pupil come together, astonishing results follow for both of them â and under ideal conditions incredible transmutations of the personality and its power take place, as we can witness in some of the selections
in this book.
Instruction, example and influence are the three instruments of a good teacher. A good teacher does not instruct merely by words. In fact, he makes a sparing use of them. He utilizes his communicative skills to invent illuminating phrases and expressions, to initiate meaningful devices and projects, and to create a stimulating atmosphere and environment.
The art of instruction is extremely subtle and delicate, but a good teacher practices this art effortlessly. He harmoniously blends formal with informal instruction. He varies his methods according to circumstances and organizes his teaching to suit the varying demands and needs of his pupils. A good teacher is a keen observer and tries to understand each of his pupils by a kind of identity. He strives untiringly to make his programmes or lessons interesting and to awaken in his pupils a power of concentration and an irresistible will for progress. Finally, he instructs even without instructing, and allows his inner mastery of his own knowledge to shine out through actions rather than through words.
A good teacher knows that example is more important than instruction, and he strives not only to keep his ideals in front of him, but also to progressively embody them. He is scrupulously scientific in detecting his. own errors and defects, knowing very well mat he cannot demand from his students what he himself cannot practice. The example expected from the teacher is not merely his outward behavior, but his inner life, his aims and the sincerity with which he pursues those aims.
It is sometimes argued that what should be
expected from the teacher is professional competence and a power of communication, and nothing more. But this contention ignores the fact that the example set by the teacher's inner and outer life is automatically communicated to the pupils, whether this is intended or not. Giving a good example is an inherent part of the teacher's task.
But this is not all. Even more powerful than example is the direct influence the teacher exercises upon his students. Influence is the power of contact and the nearness of the teacher's presence. Knowingly or unknowingly, teachers tend to exercise authority over their students, and sometimes this authority smacks of arrogance, not infrequently, the act of teaching itself becomes a battery of suggestions of more or less hypnotic intensity. A good teacher must be intent upon cultivating healthy attitudes and traits which have salutary effects on students.
A good teacher accepts his work as a trust given to him by his station and its duties. He recognizes his own importance while acknowledging its relativity. He suggests but does not impose, he is a friend and a philosopher and guide; he does not arrogate to himself vain masterhood. Inspired by humility, he looks upon himself as a child leading children.
A good teacher is a constant learner. He not only renews his knowledge in the field of his specialization/but he Also continues to enrich his personality and strives to achieve deeper and higher realizations. Even as he rises higher and higher, he feels a greater and greater need to share his knowledge, skill, experience and illumination with others, particularly with younger generations. In doing so, he may encounter resistance and conflict.
Let us now turn to the pupil. Every child has an inner desire to learn and to grow, but the most important characteristic of the good pupil is his zeal or enthusiasm. This zeal is that determines the persistence of his effort, and such persistence is indispensable to achieve higher and higher levels of excellence. A good pupil is a seeker of knowledge and, motivated by curiosity and a growing sense of wonder, seeks knowledge for its own sake. he travels from the known to the unknown, and in this travels does not limit himself to thought and imagination alone, but sets out to come in direct contact with Nature and Man, in order to gain access to wider, deeper and higher realms
A good pupil tends to organize his life and so find time for as many activities as possible. In due course, he discovers that concentration holds the key to development, and that he can compress a long programme of work into a much shorter period by applying the art and science of concentration to it. In his natural process of flowering, he comes to combine work and play, and whether in his more formal studies or in the fine arts and crafts, he aims at cultivating and refining his actual and potential faculties.
A good pupil realizes that both body and mind should be developed vigorously and rigorously. He discovers that the qualities needed in physical education contribute a great deal to the development of an integrated personality. For example, the sporting spirit, valued most in physical education, includes good humour and tolerance and consideration for all, a right attitude and friendliness to both teammates and rivals,
self-control and a scrupulous observance of the laws of the game, fair play, an equal acceptance of victory or defeat without bad humour, resentment or ill-will towards successful competitors, and the loyal acceptance of the decisions of the appointed judge, umpire or referee. These qualities have their value for life in general and the help that sports can give to an integral development is direct and invaluable.
One of the best lessons of the sporting spirit is that one should strive not to stand first but to do one's best. And a good pupil should put this lesson into practice in every domain of activity.
In the realm of studies, a good pupil tries to develop different aspects of his mind. The search for truth in a scientific and philosophic spirit is his basic motivation, and he seeks to develop a right discrimination between appearance and reality. He loves books but is not a bookworm. He may or may not read voraciously - his main concern is: to cultivate subtlety of intelligence and the capacity to develop complex systems of thought. He learns the skills of analysis and strives to master the dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.
A harmonious development of the rational mind, the ethical sense and the aesthetic sensibility is the highest aim of normal manhood, and a good pupil strives to integrate the triple powers of reason, will and imagination in harmony with his own unique turn of temperament and the natural law of his inner growth. Indeed, he avoids a hotch-potch of activities but rather seeks to organize them into a kind of unity emerging from the inner core of his soul's integral aspiration.
At an important stage of the pupil's life there
comes a choice, and the quality of the pupil will be judged by and will depend upon the choice he makes. This is the choice between the good and the pleasant, shreyas and preyas, to use the terms of the Katha Upanishad. Not that pleasure or enjoyment has no place in an ideal life, but there is a distinction between seeking pleasure for the sake of pleasure and taking pleasure in whatever worthwhile action one does or undertakes to do. A good pupil makes this distinction and finds that, not in seeking pleasure, but in seeking good and finding pleasure in it, lies the secret of self-discipline. Indeed this is also the secret of the integrated personality. The choice between the good and the pleasant is not merely a matter of ethical life; it is, in a sense, a matter that pervades all aspects of life and in all circumstances the pupil is confronted with this choice. He can sustain this continuous encounter with choice only if he has in him that sublimest of qualities, sincerity. Indeed, it can be said that sincerity is the golden key to continuous and integral learning. And no pupil can continue to remain a good pupil unless he has an ever-fresh sincerity which grows continuously and so becomes a burning fire of integral sincerity, that is, sincerity in all parts of the being.
It is this burning fire of sincerity that imparts to the pupil the right thrust and direction, as well as that concentrated and tranquil stage of consciousness required experience the reality which is the object of all knowledge. And it is this burning fire that breaks the limitations of the human mind and leads the seeker into higher domains of psychic and spiritual experience. A good pupil does not refuse to transgress the normal limitations of consciousness, but has the requisite courage to take the staff in his hands and set
out on a new journey. For a good pupil is not deterred by dogmatism. He is free to test on the anvil of reason and experience all negations. Henceforth, he is no more a seeker of shadows, appearances, names or forms, but a seeker of the real, the boundless, the infinite.
The journey of the good pupil is difficult and there are tests on the way that he must pass in order to enter new gates of progress. In this journey, sooner rather than later, he comes to learn how to learn, and he employs the principles of learning to educate himself. Sooner rather than later, he comes to learn how to control himself, and he employs the principles of discipline to achieve self-possession and self-mastery. Sooner rather than later, he comes to know his own nature, his psychological make-up, his inclinations, his own strengths and weakness, and he employs the principles of self-enlargement to discover his wider self, and ultimately his highest unegoistic psychic and spiritual self, and the means by which the light and power of the self can be made manifest in the physical world.
But, like any pupil, the good pupil too needs help and guidance from the teacher. The distinguishing mark of a good pupil is the attitude with which he seeks help and the degree and quality of the help he seeks. Since he puts in a good deal of personal effort, he does not demand much of the teacher’s time. Yet, since his eagerness to learn is great, he learns faster, and this demands greater attention and time from the teacher. There are seasons of learning when a pupil can need and demand almost exclusive attention. There are instances when a good pupil needs very little help from the teacher and at a certain stage can dispense
with it. Frequently this happens when the pupil has found within himself the teacher’s living guidance or when he has learned the art of discovering the inner teacher in every circumstance and in every encounter. It may be said that the need for external help diminishes as the pupil advances in the discovery of the inner teacher, or when the inner relationship between the pupil and the teacher is so intimate and intense that the pupil constantly feels an ever increasing and more joyful inner contact with him.
In a sense, the relationship between a good pupil and a good teacher is indescribable. It tends to be profound and irrevocable, and the pupil feels a natural urge to emulate and obey his teacher. The tradition in which the pupil is enjoined to obey the teacher unquestioningly is rooted in the natural sacredness of the living relationship between the good pupil and the good teacher, and this tradition has its uses. But we find that a good teacher appreciates repeated questioning by the pupil, and he even allows a mutual testing.
To foster an increasing number of good teachers and good pupils is a special responsibility of any educational system and of those in charge of designing that system. It is true that good teachers and good pupils have flourished even in the most deficient circumstances, but it is certain that they would have proved to be better teachers and better pupils had the system of education itself been better; and it is also certain that a good system of education tends to promote the rapid multiplication of good teachers and good pupils.
* * *
Today, educational systems almost everywhere are
utilitarian in character, promoting an examination-oriented education that imprisons teachers and students alike. Their goals are limited and have no intrinsic relationship with the ideal process and ends of genuine teaching-learning. This point is very well illustrated in some of the passages included here.
Do we have any idea as to what system of education would encourage the flowering of good teachers and good pupils? This is a difficult question to answer. But if we study various innovative experiments conducted in this context, it seems that an ideal system is yet to be invented and can come about only if three things are assured. First, there must be a great change in the lecture system. Lectures should have a much more modest place than they have today. A greater role should be assigned to self-learning and to work on individual and collective projects. Second, the present syllabus system must undergo a major modification. Programmes of study should be much more flexible. Pupils and teachers should have the possibility of changing the programmes according to the pupils’ evolving needs. In fact, syllabi should be evolutionary in character, developing and emerging out of the interests of the pupils and their goals. Finally, the examination system must be thoroughly revised. Tests should be designed to stimulate the pupils to make further progress. They should be impromptu and should vary according to the varying situations of individuals and groups.
An ideal system of education would provide and environment and a framework that facilitates a harmonious blending of freedom and discipline. This harmonious blending presupposes, mainly on the part
of teachers and educational administrators, the fulfillment of two conditions: the pursuit of truth and the pursuit of harmony. Neither of these pursuits can be meaningful or fruitful unless they are voluntary. The spirit of liberty is a necessary condition for the search for truth and for securing cooperation, mutual goodwill and fellow feeling. In brief, it may be said that Truth, Harmony and Liberty will be the underlying principles of an ideal system of education.
At the same time, it must be admitted that without good teachers and good pupils there can be no good educational system. Today’s educators, therefore, need to work on all three fronts simultaneously: the teacher, the pupil and the system. But where should we begin? This, again, is not an easy question to answer. Probably we should begin from where we are – that is, if we are teachers, we should strive to become good teachers; if we are pupils, we should strive to become good pupils; and if we are in charge of the educational system, we should set about creating new conditions in the system so as to encourage and foster good teachers and good pupils.
* * *
There are four essentials that we must not forget while restructuring or reforming the educational system. Firstly, we must recognise that the child and its latent potentialities and its quiet yet perseverant soul are to be subserved; we must not build a system that would suffocate or smother that little child--that little prince.
This essential point is brought out forcefully by Rabindra Nath Tagore in his short story "The Parrot's Training". It is so instructive that we may recount it in full.
"Once upon a time there was a bird. It was ignorant. It sang all right, but never recited scriptures. It hopped pretty frequently, but lacked manners.
Said the Raja to himself: "Ignorance is costly in the long run. For fools consume as much food as their betters, and yet give nothing in return."
He called his nephews to his presence and told them that the bird must have a sound schooling.
The pundits were summoned, and at once went to the root of the matter. They decided that the ignorance of birds was due to their natural habit of living in poor nests. Therefore, according to the pundits, the first thing necessary for this bird's education was a suitable cage.
The pundits had their rewards and went home happy.
A golden cage was built with gorgeous decorations. Crowds came to see it from all parts of the world.
"Culture, captured and caged!" exclaimed some, in a rapture of ecstasy, and burst into tears.
Others remarked: "Even if culture be missed, the cage will remain, to the end, a substantial fact. How fortunate for the bird!"
The goldsmith filled his bag with money and lost no time in sailing homewards.
The pundit sat down to educate the bird. With proper deliberation he took his pinch of snuff, as he said: "Textbooks can never be too many for our purpose!"
The nephews brought together an enormous crowd of scribes. They copied from books, and copied from copies, till the manuscripts were piled up to an unreachable height.
Men murmured in amazement: "Oh, the tower of culture, egregiously high! The end of it lost in the clouds!"
The scribes, with light hearts, hurried home, their pockets heavily laden.
The nephews were furiously busy keeping the cage in proper trim.
As their constant scrubbing and polishing went on, the people said with satisfaction: "This is progress indeed!"
Men were employed in large numbers, and supervisors were still more numerous. These, with their cousins of all different degrees of distance, built a palace for themselves and lived there happily ever after.
Whatever may be its other deficiencies, the world is never in want of fault-finders; and they went about saying that every creature remotely connected with the cage flourished beyond words, excepting only the bird.
When this remark reached the Raja's ears, he summoned his nephews before him and said: "My dear nephews, what is this that we hear?"
The nephews said in answer: "Sire, let the testimony of the goldsmiths and the pundits, the scribes and the supervisors, be taken, if the truth is to be known. Food is scarce with the fault-finders, and that is why their tongues have gained in sharpness."
The explanation was so luminously satisfactory that the Raja decorated each one of his nephews with his own rare jewels.
The Raja at length, being desirous of seeing with his own eyes how his Education Department busied itself with the little-bird, made his appearance one day
at the great Hall of Learning.
From the gate rose the sounds of conch-shells and gongs, horns, bugles and trumpets, cymbals, drums and kettle-drums, tomtoms, tambourines, flutes, fifes, barrel-organs and bagpipes. The pundits began chanting mantras with their topmost voices, while the goldsmiths, scribes, supervisors, and their numberless cousins of all different degrees of distance, loudly raised a round of cheers.
The nephews smiled and said: "Sire, what do you think of it all?"
The Raja said: "It does seem so fearfully like a sound principle of Education!"
Mightily pleased, the Raja was about to remount his elephant, when the fault-finder, from behind some bush, cried out: "Maharaja, have you seen the bird?"
"Indeed, I have not!" exclaimed the Raja, "I completely forgot about the bird."
Turning back, he asked the pundits about the method they followed in instructing the bird.
It was shown to him. He was immensely impressed. The method was so stupendous that the bird looked ridiculously unimportant in comparison. The Raja was satisfied that there was no flaw in the arrangements. As for any complaint from the bird itself, that simply could not be expected. Its throat was so completely choked with the leaves from the books that it could neither whistle nor whisper. It sent a thrill through one's body to watch the process.
This time, while remounting his elephant, the Raja ordered his State Ear puller to give a thorough good pull at both the ears of the fault-finder.
The bird thus crawled on, duly and properly, to the safest verge of insanity. In fact, its progress was satisfactory in the extreme. Nevertheless, nature occasionally triumphed over training, and when the morning light peeped into the bird's cage it sometimes fluttered its wings in a reprehensible manner. And, though it is hard to believe, it pitifully pecked at its bars with its feeble beak.
"What impertinence!" growled the kotwal.
The blacksmith, with his forge and hammer, took his place in the Raja's Department of Education. Oh, what resounding blows! The iron chain was soon completed, and the bird's wings were clipped.
The Raja's brothers-in-law looked black, and shook their heads, saying: "These birds not only lack good sense, but also gratitude!"
With textbook in one hand and the baton in the other, the pundits gave the poor bird what may fitly be called lessons!
The kotwal was honoured with a title for his watchfulness and the blacksmith for his skill in forging chains.
The bird died.
Nobody had the least notion how long ago this had happened. The fault-finder was the first man to spread the rumour.
The Raja called his nephews and asked them: "My dear nephews, what is this that we hear?"
The nephews said: "Sire, the bird's education has been completed."
"Does it hop?" the Raja enquired.
"Never!" said the nephews.
"Does it fly?"
"Bring me the bird," said the Raja.
The bird was brought to him, guarded by the kotwal and the sepoys and the sowars. The Raja poked its body with his finger. Only its inner stuffing of book-leaves rustled. Outside the window, the murmar of the spring breeze amongst the newly budded asoka leaves made the April morning wistful."
The second essential point to be noted is that the child is like a closed bud that grows slowly or swiftly and opens up its petals and blossoms into its fullness by an innate pressure, aided by sunny atmosphere and environment watched and recreated by the uplifting hand of the teacher.
Even though teaching is a deliberate process, it is essentially a creative activity. Teaching is a conscious art, and it aims at natural and spontaneous growth of the faculties and capacities of the pupil. Indeed, natural growth does not mean wild growth; the teacher is like a gardener who needs to spend all his increasing knowledge and skill endlessly to combine all the helpful factors (external environment and internal resources of the pupil's actual and potential tendencies and powers) in such a way that there is the resultant experience of spontaneous growth marked by right rhythm and acceleration.
The third essential point to remember is that the contemporary teacher has today increasing possibilities of utilising dynamic methods of teaching-learning, and he can thus create or invent a new system of education that is directly relevant to the fundamental needs of today and tomorrow.