Education at Crossroads - Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

Education is at crossroads.

The road on which education has been running at present has reached dead ends from several points of view. Underdeveloped and developing countries like ours have awakened vastly to the value of education; but the road is unable to bear the burdens of increasing role of education. Requirements of economic development oblige governments to frame and pursue objectives that tend to impose heavy burdens on people, who, in turn, project expectations in regard to education which cannot be fulfilled by the present system of education. Sociology, in the whole world, is undergoing radical changes, since the fundamental problems of human relationships are becoming increasingly insoluble, and people are turning towards education as a possible means of practical remedies; but the present aims, methods and contents of education do not address themselves to these problems. The costs of education are increasing unbearably, and higher questions of human development, of human destiny and human fulfilment impose on education new directions and goals that seem impossible of achievement, if education continues to be what it is today. The question is whether there is something beyond the dead end which we must still pursue, or whether a new road is being opened up or whether we should design and engineer a new road.

In the meantime, the old road is still before us, and the educational world is so mechanically tied to it that it requires some special courage even to stand aloof for a short while in order to reflect upon where we are, what we are really doing in our schools, colleges and universities, and whether what we are doing

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

is meaningful in terms of matching our activities and methodologies with ends and objectives that we are required to pursue. To stand at the crossroads and to warn ourselves and others that we need to turn to something new has, however, become a necessity.


Let us reflect at deeper levels.

Frontiers at which humanity stands at any given stage of development determine the directions and contents of education.

Today humanity is gripped by three pulls and counter-pulls and the resultant situation is so difficult that nothing short of change in human consciousness can lift up humanity from its crisis. On the one hand, there is a downward gravitation; on the other hand, there is a pull towards horizontal development, and there is still a higher pull of vertical ascension.

The downward gravitational pull has many features that are related to the hugeness of the structures and superstructures of economic, industrial, social and political life. These structures and superstructures are being sustained by continuous scientific discoveries and inventions and technological devices and gadgets, — all of which contribute to the efficiency of the system. All these structures tend to sub-serve certain intellectual goals, but also more and more increasingly those goals which enhance pragmatism, success in competition and gratification of sensual pleasures. The fabric of life that is getting woven yields more and more through impersonalisation, mechanisation, and even dehumanisation. Even the higher and the highest pursuits of life are getting pulled down under the weight of the hurry and fury of forces that tempt and weaken human will. The subconscious and the unconscious are finding in this situation increasing avenues of invasion, and the forces of reason are being greatly defeated by those of unreason. This gravitational pull is that of the infra rational and to fight against it so as to retain humanism and humanity requires a gigantic effort.

Fortunately, the gigantic effort is not entirely missing. While scientific discoveries and inventions tend to be utilised in their

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

applications by the infra-rational, science itself is a rational endeavour, and its impulse to know and to know as comprehensively as possible stands out in the contemporary scenario as an angel which can provide lofty wings to humanity to fly into higher and higher domains of efforts and achievements. There is also a widespread inquiry, — multiple inquiry and critical inquiry, — which is pushing humanity to develop philosophy and ethics as also stringent notions of justice and equity. There are also growing visions and experiments with the shining ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, — and even though they are being hampered by the forces of economic barbarism, they still provide a push of higher struggle. In these domains, humanity can fulfil its humanism, and numerous paths are constantly opening up to invite humanity to become more and more humane, more and more rational, and more and more ethical.

This network of ideas and forces constitutes the peak of the cultural effort of today. The intellectual, the ethical and the aesthetic aspirations of humanity are combined here to pull humanity from its downward gravitation and erect a durable civilisation that can continue to spread over larger and larger areas of the world. It perceives quite clearly that even science, if it is not guided by values, can be dangerous and can injure the future of humanity. It is greatly concerned with humanism, it is international in its sweep, and it has given a decisive turn to the realisation of human unity. The birth of the United Nations Organisation and its international agencies owes much to the endeavours of this uplifting force. It feels greatly committed to the human destiny, and endeavours to create a new world order in which this destiny, conceived in terms of higher individual and social welfare, can find increasing fulfilment. It wants to impel science to utilise itself for purposes of international peace and elimination of drudgery from human life. It visualises the higher role of education in shaping a better world of tomorrow. But it is also aware that the present system of education is unable to fulfil the goals, which are imperatively demanded, if humanity is to survive and arrive at its fulfilment.

There is, therefore, an urgent search for a new road for education. This search has been briefly described by Edgar Faure, the

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

Chairman of the International Commission on the Development of Education, established by UNESCO, in his letter written in May, 1972, to the then Director General of UNESCO, Rene Maheu, when he submitted the Report of the Commission, entitled Learning to Be. He points out that four basic assumptions underlay the work of that Commission. He explains these four assumptions as follows:

The first... is that of the existence of an international community which amidst the variety of nations and cultures, of political options, and degrees of development, is reflected in common aspirations, problems and trends and in its movement towards one and the same destiny. The corollary to this is the fundamental solidarity of governments and of peoples, despite transitory differences and conflicts.

The second is belief in democracy, conceived of as implying each man's right to realise his own potential and to share in the building of his own future. The keystone of democracy, so conceived, is education, — not only education that is accessible to all, but education whose aims and methods have been thought out afresh.

The third assumption is that the aim of development is the complete fulfilment of man, in all the richness of his personality, the complexity of his forms of expression and his various commitments, — as individual, member of a family and of a community, citizen, and producer, inventor of techniques and creative dreamer.

Our last assumption is that only an overall, lifelong education can produce the kind of complete man the need for whom is increasing with the continually most stringent constraints tearing the individual asunder. We should no longer assiduously acquire knowledge once and for all, but learn how to build up continually evolving body of knowledge or 'through life' — 'learn to he'.

It can be said that this report Learning to Be is an excellent document of the diagnosis of the maladies of the present world

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

and its system of education, and the prescription it gives, if implemented with sincerity and thoroughness, would lead to revolutionary changes in the world order as also in the educational system. This Report aims at building a new road which can lift up humanity from the old road, which may be said to have reached the point of its bankruptcy, particularly in terms of humanistic ideals. With this report, we can speak concretely of standing at the crossroads presenting to us a possibility of a choice between the old and the new.

This Report has made twenty one recommendations, and the most important is laid down in its very first recommendation, which declares: Every individual must be in a position to keep learning throughout his life. The idea of lifelong education is the keystone of the learning society.

The other recommendations may be looked upon as corollaries. They advocate less formalism in institutions, an overall open education system facilitating mobility and choice, importance of preschool education, broadening general education, maximisation of vocational mobility, variety in higher education, continuous adult education, principles of self-learning, right utilisation of educational technologies, raising of the status of teachers, and learner's own responsibilities in achieving higher goals of education.

There are, however, two important considerations, which render the diagnosis and prescriptions of this Report inadequate or incomplete. This Report assumes that the powers of rationality and ethicality are able to combat the powers of the Un-Reason and of the subconscious and the unconscious. Again, it assumes that the integral development of personality, which every modern human being should aim at developing, is achievable when the human faculties are properly brought into harmony by the powers of their rational and the moral sense. It lays down that the physical, intellectual, emotional and ethical integration of the individual into a complete man is a broad definition of the fundamental aim of education. But the question is whether something more is needed to bring about the expected integration. And since this is a very important question, we are obliged to dwell upon it and make some observations.

It is mainly during the last hundred years or more that psychological studies have begun to reveal to us the strangeness and

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

complexity of the components and powers of human personality. It has now become clear that the human being has many parts and planes and that each one of them has its own thrust of development, and these thrusts are far from being homogenous or harmonious with one another. The physical being is often in conflict with the vital pursuits, and when the vital ambitions and attractions impose upon the physical body their own burden, the physical often revolts or collapses. The demands of physical health are often in clash with the demands of the vital being. Again, the demands of the vital being are in conflict with the demands of the mind when it wants to pursue the purity of thought and knowledge and the purity of its ideals. Often the vital being tends to make the mental being the advocate of its desires and ambitions by means of rationalisation. At the same time, the pure pursuits of the mind succeed sometimes in obliging the vital being to make sacrifices, but the resultant condition is often that of disequilibrium.

Still, again, the triangular disposition of the mind in its pursuit of rationality, ethicality and aesthetics is itself a complex of battle and disequilibrium. The pursuit of the truth through the channel of rationality is often encumbered or even contradicted by the pursuits of the good and the beautiful through channels of the moral and aesthetic sense. Even in the field of the pursuits of the truth, there are conflicts between the scientific truth and the philosophical truth, and even when a choice is made in favour of one or the other, some kind of disequilibrium still remains. Similarly, in the field of ethical pursuit, the demands of love and justice often collide with each other, the good of the individual often collides with the good of the society, and the standards of conduct have among themselves continually sessions of disagreement. In the field of aesthetics, we are aware of the relativity of aesthetic standards and scientific judgements, and we are also aware of aesthetic personalities actuated by perceptions, imaginations and inspirations, often colliding with scientific and philosophical truth as also with demand of the ethical good. It is true that at a certain stage, one does perceive that truth is beauty and beauty is truth, but we are also aware how beauty looks askance

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

at the good and the truth, and vice versa. It is true that the highest developments of Reason can bring about some kind of truce among the conflicting demands of various parts of the being, but this does not amount to integration.

This is not all. The conflicts that we see between the conscious parts are nothing as compared to the conflicts that arise between the conscious and the subconscious or unconscious. How feeble is the rational, ethical, and aesthetic complex of the human being when it gets attacked by the subconscious and unconscious forces has become more and more evident when we examine the modern life in its conditions of anxiety and stress. Some of the acute psychologists have even felt that there are only two powerful subconscious impulses, those of Eros and Thanatos, the desire to love and desire to kill; and not only are both of them in conflict with each other, but both of them are in conflict with the pursuits of rationality, morality and aesthetics in their purest and highest flights. They have even warned or predicted that human ity cannot sustain its upward movement and must ultimately decline and succumb to the forces of the unconscious Unreason.

Even sociological studies have underlined the powers of Unreason against the construction of ideals or ideal order of society, and the two great World Wars which swept over humanity during the last hundred years have shown how devastating the powers of blind passions, prejudices and irrational impulses and ideologies can be. It has also been seen that even when Reason succeeds in building up structures of rational order, they turn out to be temporary and collapse sooner or later. Structures that sup port mechanisation and irrational pursuit of sensual pleasure tend to overpower structures that aim at flexibility, equity, justice and freedom.

Again, when the three ideals of the social Reason, — liberty, equality and fraternity, — are attempted to be established in collective life, the three are found to be in conflict with each other and defeated by the powers of Unreason. When liberty wins, equality gets dethroned; when equality is attempted to be raised up, liberty gets strangulated; and fraternity does not get even a chance of getting into any programme of action. These reflections

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

turn us to inquire as to whether there is any other still higher uplifting force by means of which humanity can successfully be uplifted from the tentacles of the subconscious and the unconscious.

Fortunately, we find that there has been in the history of the world a persistent recognition and experience of a higher light and both in the East and in the West there have been luminous examples of those who have provided evidence of the presence and powers of the superconscious, which far exceed the capacities of the reason in dealing with the subconscious or the unconscious. In our own country, there appears to be a kind of specialisation, which has resulted in the opening up of hundreds of ways by which one can enter into the portals of the superconscient. Right from the Vedic times, of which we have existing records, up to the present day, we have a large bulk of data to show that the superconscient light or knowledge is not a matter of subjective error or hallucination but a matter of repeatable, verifiable and abiding experience as also of a continuously developing tradition. The Veda clearly spoke of three oceans, of the ocean of the inconscient, the ocean of the conscient, and the ocean of the superconscient. They speak of the battle between the forces of these three oceans and even of the triumph of the superconscient over the conscient and the inconscient. The tradition of Vedic knowledge has continued right up to the present day and in our own times, Sri Aurobindo has made radical experiments for the total trans formation of the Inconscient by the process of the Supermind, the highest cosmic power of the Superconscient.

It is again affirmed that the superconscient is at work just as the subconscious or unconscious is at work, whether we may be aware of it or not. And it is further affirmed that in many critical conditions through which humanity has passed in history, the uplifting pull of the superconscient has played a decisive role. And, finally, it has been shown through latest researches that if the present crisis is so grave as never before, it is precisely because of the pressure of the superconscient and because of the resultant battle between the inconscient, the conscient, and the superconscient. It is because humanity is today entangled into the pulls and counter-pulls of

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

these three forces that the present state of humanity is so critical and demands from humanity a kind of choice that can truly uplift humanity at a still higher road — the third road, — of the ascending curve of evolution, where what it seeks on the middle road of horizontal progression but which cannot be fulfilled, these can yet be successfully dealt with and ultimately realised.


It is the pursuit of this third road that obliges us to conceive of certain new dimensions of education, and we need to look into them more closely. The pursuit of the superconscient has been, as stated above, a perennial theme both in the East and the West. This pursuit has taken three principal forms, and we need to extract from them the most valuable lessons, which are relevant to the creation of a new road of education whereby the crisis created by the three pulls and counter pulls can be resolved. These three forms are those of religion, philosophy and Yogic science. Our concern will be, not with any specific formula, nor with their conflicts, nor, again, with outer details of practices. Our concern will be to consider mainly the theme of the conquest of the subconscient and the inconscient by higher powers of rationality, ethicality, aesthetic sensibility and the superconscient pursuits of the Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

The conflict of religions, each one of which claims to have discovered the superconscient knowledge and light as also the methods by which that knowledge and light can be attained or contacted, is one of the chief obstacles that needs to be crossed, if we are to build the needed new road of education. Fortunately, humanity has made considerable progress during the last hundred years, particularly since Swami Vivekananda declared that every one needs his or her own religion, since each one has his or her own specific road of specific method of contact with the superconscient knowledge. Adherents of different religions have begun to understand with greater and greater sympathy the main points of agreement and disagreement, and even the claims to the pos session of exclusive truths have become tampered with greater

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

flexibility, mutual respect and not only tolerance but even an effort to absorb new insights, experiences and realisations. If this new trend is supported by a fresh appraisal of religions without dogmatism, further progress can be achieved. Instead of excluding each other, religions need to come together and arrive at a synthesis of universal knowledge to which each higher religion can make a significant contribution.

Each one of the universal religions possesses a precious treasure of knowledge; many aspects of this treasure are common, and certain distinguishing aspects can serve as enrichment, which can be shared by all. All religions stress the need to abolish ego ism and eliminate desires that obstruct the attainment of purity and unity with the higher levels of knowledge and power. All religions live in a spirit of sacredness and holiness; all religions pre scribe concentration on the highest that is accessible to our consciousness; all religions affirm the possibility of transcending our normal psychological limitations and of experience of higher faculties of intuition, revelation and inspiration. Even in respect of the contents of superconscient knowledge, where there are wide disagreements, a greater understanding can be instituted, so that following the method of repeatability, verifiability and expand ability of experiences, their contents of knowledge can be properly ascertained and synthesised.

Philosophy, too, is a quest to arrive at the knowledge of the essential reality or realities, their relationships with the world and with the individual human being: But as distinguished from religion, where methods consist of faith or acceptance of belief or doctrine, and practice or rituals, ceremonies and prescribed acts, — ethical and religious, — both in context of the individual progress and social living, the methods of philosophy consist of a critical and logical inquiry and rational judgements based upon the criteria of consistency and comprehensiveness. Philosophical pursuits can be very useful in arriving at a comparative idea of the contents of the superconscient knowledge as also in obtaining intellectual assessment in terms of ontology, epistemology, cosmology and axiology coupled with critical self-evaluation of philosophical knowledge in contrast to knowledge obtained

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

through direct experience in revelation or inspiration. Philosophical pursuit will also enable impartial seekers to arrive at non-dogmatic knowledge in intellectual language and in intellectual concepts, and may even prepare the human mind to seek and practise methods by which the knowledge gained by philosophy can be verified by direct and abiding experience.

Yogic science is also a pursuit of the superconscient knowledge, and its distinction is that it is experiential and experimental in character, and it is the methodised effort at arriving at direct experience by the contact and union with the universal and transcendental realities which, as in any science, can be arrived at without any dogmatic assumptions or even without recourse to rituals and prescribed acts based on any religious creed or dogma. Even a sceptic, an agnostic, an atheist and nonbeliever can practise Yogic methods and arrive at an impartial perception and experience of the truths of the superconscient knowledge.

It is true that Yogic knowledge is central for a genuine pursuit of the supra-rational truth, beauty and goodness, but still the religious and philosophical pursuits can, whenever and wherever needed, also help, and this help can be of great value. It is also true that there has been a strong tendency in religion, philosophy and Yoga to pursue the supra-rational in such an exclusive manner that claims of pragmatic life and material existence are ignored or even denied. There is too much of emphasis on the supra-terrestrial, supra-cosmic, acosmic, and the cosmic and terrestrial aims are subordinated or neglected, even rejected. Since our aim is to utilise superconscient knowledge in the conquest of the inconscient, we have to assign a central importance to those pursuits of the supra conscient and the supra-rational which deal with the cosmic and terrestrial, right up to our material life and its subconscious and unconscious recesses. In this context, our aim should be to give the right place and justification to that tendency in materialism which affirms matter, discovers secrets of knowledge pertaining to matter and affirms the legitimate and right claims of matter in the totality of existence as also to the utilities which material knowledge has provided to humanity and is still continuing to provide so that they can sub-serve along with similar utilities of the knowledge of Life,

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

Mind, and other higher domains, those ends which are to be fulfilled through the conquest of the superconscient over the inconscient.

It is true that materialism denies the supra-physical and super conscient. But fortunately, during the recent times, this denial has increasingly come to be acknowledged as unphilosophical, since it assumes arbitrarily that physical means are the only means of knowledge, — a statement which can be supported only if it can be proved in the first place that matter is the only reality. Materialism, therefore, commits the fallacy of circular argument, and with the advancing knowledge of matter, material sciences themselves are obliged to accept the existence of objects which are not physically perceivable. Again, as soon as we begin to examine the increasing data of biology, psychology and psychical research, as also data obtained in the field of Yogic science, the materialistic formula collapses.

At the same time, although materialism in its latest forms attempts to avoid metaphysical or ontological questions, presuppositions still tacitly remain materialistic. The cure of this deficiency, however, lies in the fact that these attempts are fundamentally motivated by the desire to pursue knowledge in its purity and to liberate humanity from those pitfalls into which people normally fall when claims regarding the superconscient knowledge derived from intuitive and revelatory, powers are often based on account of sporadic flashes, of half lights, and of mixtures with imaginations, hallucinations, and erroneous beliefs. For it must be admitted that in the past, religion has often stood against science and critical inquiry in 'the name of revelations and intuitions which were not themselves perfected and brought out in their ordered comprehensiveness. The materialistic tendency has, therefore, to be welcomed when it demands application of rigorous methods before according the title of knowledge to any belief or any claim. To be on sure ground, supra-physical and supra-conscient knowledge must satisfy the criteria of verifiability, repeatability, abiding realisation, although one need not succumb to the demand that the supra-physical must necessarily be proved physically, a demand which is irrational, — since supra-physical by

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

nature is supra-physical and except when it has physical consequences, its proof must lie in the supra-physical and it must be ascertainable through supra-physical means. And Yogic science tells us that the supra-physical can be tested supra-physically but with such rigour that just as in physical sciences errors can be eliminated by relevant methods, errors in the field of supra-physical can also be eliminated by applying its own appropriate methods. Educational implications of the above reflections would be threefold:

1. Considering the issues of the contemporary crisis, it should be the Endeavour of the educational policy to assign a very important place in the contents of education which would bring to the students a living awareness of the issues of that crisis, since every one will be required to bear the burden of that crisis in one's active life in some degree or the other;

2. Since this crisis and its possible resolution raises a deepest question whether religion, philosophy and yogic science have to play a major role, all that is relevant to, these issues in these three fields should suitably be made a part of the programme of studies at various stages of learning; and

3. Since the claims and counterclaims in the concerned fields of religion, philosophy and yogic science are still in unresolved conditions, the methods of education in respect of these fields should refrain from dogmatism, their exclusivism, and from any narrow partiality, and should therefore be taught and studied as subjects of exploration, — sympathetic, critical and as synthetic as possible, and they should further insist on rigours of appropriate methodologies aiming at verification, personal experience and comparative but impartial evaluation.


So far we were concerned with the knowledge of the supra physical, of the supra-conscient and of the Truth, Beauty and Goodness in their supra-rational aspects. But closely connected with this knowledge is the domain of the pursuit and practice of values since, as we climb on higher and subtler domains,

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

Knowledge and Will tend to blend with each other in the sense in which Socrates visualised even their identity when he declared his famous doctrine that Virtue is Knowledge. Normally, the tendency is to limit the field of value education to the ethical consideration of the practice of Goodness. But since values are not merely ethical, but also rational and aesthetic, since we aim not only at the knowledge and practice of goodness but also at the knowledge and practice of Truth and Beauty, and since our field of application will have to be as vast and integral as life itself, our educational programmes on value education need to be conceived and designed on a vaster scale.

It is fortunate that the theme of value-education has gradually come to assume great importance with the realisation that a very important dimension of the contemporary crisis is that of the crisis of character, and efforts are being made to find appropriate place in the curricula at various levels for contents and methods relevant to the demands of value education.

Unfortunately, however, in spite of years of effort, clear guide lines have not yet emerged. Relationship between the realms of values and the realms of religion, philosophy, and yogic science has not been clearly brought out. The salutary distinction that needs to be made between value-education and value-oriented education has not been sufficiently stressed. As a result, much time is being spent in making lists of values and formulas are being framed which might result in some moral commandments, which in practice, would tend to become dogmatic and counter productive, since mere commandments are often implemented mechanically or avoided, — with a vengeance, — as soon as outer restrictions are removed from the environment. It has not been sufficiently realised that there is something like the unity of virtues, such that even when one single virtue is attempted to be practised, all others come in that terrain both logically and practically. It is also not sufficiently realised that ultimately all values can be summed up in the trinity of Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Besides, it is also not realised that pedagogically, if we are to avoid dogmatic methods, what is important is to present to the students such material that would give them the required orientation

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

towards values and stimulate the students into a process of exploration, — free, critical and constantly expanding but experiential and experimental in character.

It is also debated whether values can be taught or caught, as though both the alternatives are necessarily exclusive of each other. The simple fact is that not only values but all domains of knowledge and practice require the appropriate atmosphere in which the required lessons are caught, and various methods of teaching can simultaneously be applied. Every subject has three aspects, — cognitive, conative and affective, although the dominance of each may vary. For teaching every subject, we require appropriate combination of cognitive, conative and affective methods. In the field of values, conative and affective methods are predominant, but cognitive aspects are quite important, too, and at a certain stage even supremely important.

Another question that has been consuming a great deal of time and effort is whether studies relating to value-education should constitute a separate subject or whether they should be interwoven within various subjects in an appropriate manner. If we examine the question impartially, there seems to be good reason for both, but even those who advocate one view or the other have refrained from undertaking any mature exercise to demonstrate as to how their contentions can be actualised in pedagogical practice.

It is high time that this exercise is undertaken without delay. From a larger point of view, in which we may not be confined merely to question of value-education, but consider vaster canvas in which the present crisis and its resolutions are considered to be of central importance, it appears that the theme of value-education along with the theme of knowledge of the superconscient should get related to each other, and the consequent interrelationship should constitute the central pillar on which the new road of education can be designed and built.


Closely connected with the theme of value-oriented education " the theme of the integral development of personality. As seen

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

earlier, total education for the total personality has become pre dominant today, and even the concept of integration of personality is gaining ground. But the issue of the inner conflicts among different personalities in the psychological complex of the human being has not been sufficiently studied, and therefore, the concept of integral personality in which all the parts of the being and different personalities are harmonised needs still to be studied not only at the psychological level but also at the pedagogical level. A distinction can be made between capacities of personality and values that personality seeks to pursue, embody and fulfil. Thus, each aspect of our being has its corresponding values: the values that the physical being seeks are those of health and harmony of physical beauty; the values of the development of the vital being at its highest are courage and heroism; the values of the mental being are those of clarity, impartiality and synthesis. The values of ethical being are those of goodwill and disinterested action for the sake of its intrinsic rightness; the values of the aesthetic being are those of taste and joy and beauty of creativity. And if we study the integrating principle of human personality, we shall find that the values it seeks are those of the supra-rational Truth, Beauty and Goodness, which attain harmony by integral self-being that lives in egoless mutuality, inmost sympathy and inalienable delight and light. And beyond this integrating principle, there is, according to the traditions of knowledge, the inmost and highest reality, manifesting in the world, and when we touch or contact it, we come to fulfil the values of unity and oneness even in multiplicity.

In order that the science of integral personality becomes pedagogically practicable, we need to collect the results of centuries of research centred on self-knowledge. Much of this knowledge is readily available in the yogic science, religious traditions and ethical experience. "Know thyself" is a precept both of the Eastern and Western wisdom; Socrates spoke of the "Daemon" which always warned him against doing anything that deviated from virtue and the good; the ethical experience speaks of inner conscience and of categorical imperative; the yogic experience has discovered the psychic or soul personality, the competent architect of self-being that

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

overcomes the ignorance of the self. It is this overcoming of ignorance which constitutes the yogic concept of liberation and which is given the most basic importance in the ancient Indian theory of education and which has also reappeared in Indian experiments of education during the last hundred years and more. When Swami Vivekananda spoke of man-making education, he referred to this inmost soul and its potential divinity. When Tagore spoke of education for personality development, he referred to this very entity, which like the bird, is born twice. Sri Aurobindo spoke of the Upanishadic antar atman and of the psychic being which, after crossing ignorance, enjoys liberation and immortality by knowledge. When in recent decades, Indian educationists have reiterated the Indian concept of Knowledge, they have referred to that knowledge that aims at liberation, —sa vidya ya vimuktaye. Religions have spoken of the soul, that is the breath of God or of Boddhisattva that attains to Buddhahood or else of the pure entity in us which, by practices of self-control, can attain to self-mastery and liberation. Even modern psychologists like Jung speak of the integrating principle, which is characterised by the powers of vision, prophecy, and knowledge of mission of life. Further researches in this field are continuing, and we have now in the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother a systematic exposition of this domain of knowledge.

The anguish, anxiety and stresses of modern life are impelling educationists in various parts of the world to look for the inmost soul by the alchemic power of which calm and peace, equanimity and harmony and self-knowledge and self-integration are attained. It is being increasingly felt that neither the world problems nor the pedagogical problems relating to human development in the pre sent critical juncture can be satisfactorily resolved without crossing the borders which point not only to concept of education for integral personality but also to the education guided by the inmost soul or psychic personality. Fortunately, the Indian tradition has dealt with this deeper aspect so extensively and intensively that it should not be beyond the powers of educationists and teachers in our country to study this Indian tradition and work out its applications in our day-to-day educational practice. Indeed, the latest

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

educational experiments in India have centred on this very important issue, and if we study the mature results of this experimentation, we shall find enough guidance for our immediate educational needs.

In the first place, the latest Indian experiment in psychic education have given us the concept of fourfold personality, — personality of Knowledge, personality of Power, personality of Harmony and personality of Skill. It is further emphasised that the fourfold personality can be integrated by the power of the psychic being as also by the powers of higher domains of the Spirit. In pedagogical terms, it is affirmed that psychic education has no method and yet every method, and the teacher can employ the three instruments of instruction, example and influence flexibly in every circumstance in respect of every child. This pedagogy also recognises the necessity of formulating new goals, new con tents and new methods of education. It lays great stress on child centred education and on lifelong education, recognising that early childhood is the most favourable period of psychic education and recognising that once well begun in early childhood it has to continue throughout life, since integration and harmony of personality is a lifelong process. As a matter of fact, it has been affirmed that psychic education is to be complemented by what can be called spiritual and supramental education, into the details of which we need not enter here.

This pedagogy emphasises the combination of pursuit of Truth, austerity of harmony and joy of free creativity. It counsels us not to encumber the child with a plethora of stuff that would bury and stifle the wings and breath of the child's soul but to pro vide to each child the minimum programme of learning, and the basic requirements of self-education. Once the child has begun to practise the art of self-education, the teacher needs to provide to each child the necessary facilities and learning materials appropriate to its inclinations, talents, and actual or potential capacities, so that each child progresses at its own pace and according to its own natural rhythm as also according to its own judicious acceleration of progress. A time must come, sooner rather than later, when the child becomes conscious of its own living soul and

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

guides its own processes of education.

Learning to learn, learning by doing, learning by practising, learning to become and learning to be, — all these important messages of progressive system of education being conducted in different parts of the world have to be welcomed but employed for the growth of the soul. It is underlined that each individual should be given the opportunity to develop his or her dominant personality, whether it be that of Knowledge, Power, Harmony or of Skill, and it should be rightly blended with the development of other subordinate powers of personality, and if this blending is effected by the free choice of the individual under the guidance of the accepted advice of the teacher, then the growth of personality and its integration may become balanced and will be free from painful transitions or from the disabling disequilibrium which often occurs when the development of personality is not guided by sound pedagogy.

Two important themes, it is found, could be of very great help, if they are properly blended in the contents of education. One of them is the theme of the aim of life. The importance of this theme becomes evident when it is recognised that the central concern of the psychic being is to provide the necessary inspiration and guidance as to how life should be dealt with and how life should discover its own right directions and goals. Everyone needs to answer the most important question: what is my role in the world and how can that role be fulfilled? And, while there is not a single book in the world which can give its specific answer concerning any specific individual, great help can come if students are given access to those texts in which the aim of life or different aims of life are presented and discussed and if these texts are not presented in any prescriptive manner but as material for each individual's personal exploration. There have been, in the history of thought, pursuits of pleasures and happiness, pursuit of knowledge, pursuit of character, pursuit of materialistic gain or pursuits of disinterested progress of the race, pursuits of aesthetic delight, pursuits of terrestrial goals or supra-terrestrial goals, pursuit even of the supra-cosmic or pursuits of integral aims of life that combine various goals in different manners, and pursuits also

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

of integral perfection, both of the individual and of the society, or pursuit of the kingdom of God on the earth. While every individual should be free to choose his or her own aim of life, the choice can be greatly helped, if contents of education are so designed that every student has the possibility of being acquainted with the various goals that human beings have pursued along with the relevant philosophies and valuable lessons that they have learnt. In any case, if education is life-oriented, if the purpose of education is to prepare students for life, the theme of the aim of life seems indispensable, apart from the fact that deeper and deeper reflections on this theme provide a powerful means of psychic education.

The other theme is connected with the fact that, both biologically and psychologically, all human beings are so designed by Nature that they have got to be pupils and teachers. Learning and teaching are, we might say, the only natural profession of every human being. Therefore, the more we are equipped to become good pupils and good teachers, the more shall we be able to fulfil what we are naturally designed for. To learn what it is to become a good pupil and a good teacher is normally left for teachers' training programmes; but his seems rather arbitrary and unjust. Everyone in schools and colleges pursues the process of learning and everyone encounters the experience of interaction between learning and teaching. Will it, therefore, not, be helpful if every student comes to learn self-consciously what is the right process of learning and how to derive the best results from learning teaching situations? In any case, it is found that the psychic being is, by its very nature, engaged in most processes of learning teaching and guiding, and the psychic education would be best aided if contents of education can provide to students such materials which would enable them to explore the lives of the best students and best teachers in order to derive from them the necessary lessons which each one of them may find suitable in one's own evolution of becoming a good pupil and a good teacher.

This theme will also open up answers to the question which is very often raised in our own times in the context of the unprecedented explosion of information and knowledge that is taking

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

place. As a result of this explosion, the curriculum makers are greatly bewildered. They are also further perplexed by the invasion of multiplicity of media, which also complicate the task of framing appropriate learning-teaching materials. The central question that has come to be raised is, — and this was also raised in one of the earliest Upanishads, — whether there is any knowledge possessing which everything can be known. Or else, the question is whether there is any key to the development of learning capacities which can bear the increasing burden of greater and greater explosion of information and knowledge. There is also a further question of distinguishing between information, knowledge and wisdom, and we are compelled to inquire how to ensure that knowledge does not vanish under the plethora of information and how wisdom does not vanish under the weight of multiple insights of knowledge. The Upanishads had, of course, declared that self-knowledge, which is the goal of psychic knowledge, can contain world-knowledge or can enable us to deal with world-knowledge with ease and mastery. It is by virtue of that knowledge, the essential knowledge of unity and oneness, that one can arrive at the manifestation of that unity and oneness. In the Indian tradition, the knowledge of the One and the knowledge of manifestation constitute the integral knowledge. It is further affirmed that there are four terms of manifestation, the manifestation of Matter of which our own physical being is but a symbolic knot; the second is the manifestation of Life, of which our own individual vital being is but a symbolic knot; the third is the manifestation of the mind, of which our own individual mind is but a symbolic knot; and the fourth is the manifestation of the Super-mind, the corresponding sheath in our being is still to be developed. If, therefore, we can know and develop our own body, we shall have the ease and mastery over the developing knowledge of matter; similarly, if we can develop our vital being towards its perfection, we shall have ease and mastery over the expanding knowledge of Life; and if we can develop our mind, so as to attain its essentiality and perfection, we shall have ease and mastery over the increasing knowledge of universal Mind; and if we can develop higher faculties that lie beyond the mind, we shall

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

have ease and mastery over the increasing knowledge of the Supermind. It is for this reason that integral development of personality includes education of the physical being, the vital being and mental being. Therefore, whatever else may be the contents of education, which every individual has to pursue appropriate to his or her own seeking and to the finding of his or her own status and profession and the role in the life of the world, he or she should be provided with such basic education of the physical, vital and mental and of higher faculties so that throughout life they can continuously develop and progress, and one may continuously face the invasion of the world and progressive developments of knowledge with adequate preparedness.


It may be admitted that the application of the above ideas to educational practice will be found to be extremely difficult. But we have seen that neither the present road on which we are running today nor the middle road of the horizontal progression will lead us to the resolution of the triangular pull in which humanity's condition is entangled. We may reflect again; we may, if we like, try to arrive at the most minimum reforms, by restraining ourselves to the task that we are already doing now but slightly better and slightly more efficiently. But the needs and demands of the contemporary world are so massive, so imperative and so urgent that whatever houses we may build under our pragmatic and prudent ways of thinking, they will be found to be, it seems, only halfway houses; in fact, even before they are actually built, they will be required to be replaced by some other halfway houses. Just twenty years ago, we had thought that by building a new structure of education under 10+2+3 pattern, and with some kind of grafting of a bit of physical education and a bit of socially useful work experience, and a bit of three languages, as also of a bit of value-education so as to be in conformity with scientific education, we would have given to the country all that is needed educationally. But just within a decade, it was found that vocational education, which was the main attraction of the new

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

pattern, could not flourish, that the three-language formula is still remaining unimplemented in several parts of the country, and the claims of ancient languages like Sanskrit and Tamil still remain unfulfilled. Physical education has hardly developed. The burden of books has increased. The burden of entrance tests at every terminal point is smothering students even at the highest levels of their development, and demands are being made to find new ways and means by which our curricula are reformulated and the examination system completely overhauled. And the crisis of character has overtaken our country to such an extent that nobody will deny today that the minimum reform that we need is to provide education for character development. And once we admit this new dimension, we shall find that our train of thought and our train of pedagogical reform will not allow us to be arrested in any halfway house; we shall be impelled to go to the utmost logical conclusion, even though we may find it extremely difficult to implement.

In the meantime, it may be suggested that there are several measures that we can recommend for making a transition from where we are today to the ideal conditions that will need to be created eventually and inevitably may be found to be less difficult.

There are a few things which can be done urgently and which can be done even on the road on which we are running today, the road of what we have called dead ends. The first is to provide means and incentives for universal literacy and universalisation of elementary education. This programme will necessarily involve the recognition of the primacy of the girl child. There are three blockades which prevent the realisation of the goal that was fixed for 1960, namely, that every child in the country has to be provided for free and compulsory education up to the age of fourteen. The first blockade is that there are numerous habitations in our country, small and scattered, where there is no school at all, and if there is one, it is only in name. The second blockade is that a large number of parents in rural areas do not yet see how elementary education would be useful for their children and for the economic development of their family. And the third blockade is that girl children are often looked upon with some kind of adverse prejudice or else parents do not have enough means to clothe their girl children so

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

that they can be sent to schools, or else proper facilities in schools such as of toilet and others are not yet available that would facilitate girl children's enrolment. These subjects have been widely discussed in our country, and they can be resolved if schools are made available where they do not exist, teachers are made available where either there are no teachers or where there are only absentee teachers. For girl children, the State must make necessary provisions for providing incentives — such as the Central Government has recently decided to do — but in a much bigger way. People must also contribute their share by creating a big movement that would inspire every partner in education to contribute to the realisation of full adult literacy, full enrolment at the primary level and reduction of dropout rate up to the vanishing-point until the completion of elementary education.

One basic pedagogical reform that needs to be made is that there should be two years' component of vocational education before the end of the elementary education, so that those children who want to join an active life of employment at the age of fourteen would have sufficient equipment of those skills which are needed for meaningful employment in one vocation or the other. Provision should also be made that all children in the school system should receive good physical education so that all of them are healthy and well-built and will have such habits that they will continue their physical education even after leaving their schools. The syllabus in the elementary school should also have a good component which will provide inspiration to lead a life of self-control and self-education and also to inspire in them love for their country and for humanity in general.

It would be realised that even this immediate programme is not easy to carry out so long as the present system of education remains what it is today. But still, while the new roads are being built, the present road can be still used to bring about these mini mum results to the utmost extent possible.

Simultaneously, a massive effort should be initiated through conferences, seminars, exhibitions, publications and utilisation of media to reach teachers all over the country in order to persuade them to discharge their responsibilities as teachers in the spirit of

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

a mission. If teachers consent to conduct themselves to the task of teaching and learning, a great change would come over the entire country. Teachers' status in the country and their condition of work should also be improved; in-service training of teachers should be facilitated in a very large way; and teachers' guide books should be brought out so that they themselves understand better the lessons that they are expected to teach to their students. Teachers and parents should both collaborate, and facilities should be created for dialogues between teachers and parents so that children get better looked after both in school and at home.

The entire educational machinery can be invigorated, if head masters and principals of schools begin to look after teachers and students with greater understanding and with a greater inspiring force. Managers and government officials in charge of education can also be made to awaken to their role, and this awakening can make a great difference to the present state of affairs in education.

But more than all this, We should begin to build a new road. This new road must put forward the goal of lifelong education and the creation of learning society. It should aim at total education for the total personality and for multiple choices in the system of education. Even if these aims do not as yet bear the imprint of deeper and higher aims where exploration of the superconscient and its relationship with life are to be explored, even then, they will create a better climate for better education and will also, in due course, contribute to the making of the higher road that is really required in the context of the present crisis of humanity.

This second road or the middle road, if pursued rightly and sincerely, will be led to propose three major reforms, which must be undertaken as early as possible. The first change will be to expand the open system of education, even at the lower levels of studies. This open system should combine the non-formal, informal and formal aspects of education in a meaningful manner so that education vibrates in the atmosphere and environment, and with the help of a mobile system of library and audio-visual equipment, as also of exhibition material, this system should be able to reach every nook and corner of the country, and every child and every adult. Compulsion of timetables and studies

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

should be so relaxed that even in farms and factories and in homes and workshops, students of all ages can learn and continue to learn. Due emphasis on learning to read and to write and to calculate ordinary arithmetical operations should be combined with subjects that are relevant to every learners' needs or tastes relevant to craft, art, vocation or joy of expanding horizons of awareness, — and all that the learner is occupied with should be counted as part of the curriculum and should be designed better and better as legitimate contents of education.

The second major change should be related to revise the current curricula, which would be guided by the following main considerations:

  1. The load of books should be reduced to the optimum level;
  2. Appropriate to every terminal point, two years' vocational courses should be available to every student who wants to opt for them;
  3. Every child should get facilities to practise self-education, value-education, physical education, art-education and education that enhances national spirit of discipline, patriotism and universal fraternity;
  4. The requirements of the target groups, — their capacity to absorb the messages contained in the curricula — should be kept in view;
  5. Elementary education should be so designed that its end can be treated as the first terminal point of education, and it can be reached in normal course by a student at the age of fourteen, — the age which is prescribed by the Constitution for free and compulsory education;
  6. The curricula should be of three types: (a) introductory; (b) general-knowledge-type; and (c) specialised-knowledge-type; — the purpose being to allow students to pursue various curricula according to their interests and talents and also according to the careers that they want to choose in their life;
  7. In the context of the explosion of knowledge, expanding frontiers of knowledge should be brought through constant curricular changes nearer to students as quickly as possible, and efforts should be made to frame curricula in such a manner that it is easy for students to make the distinction between the essential and the nonessential, central and peripheral, useful and not-so-useful; and
Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads
  1. Great emphasis should be laid on linguistic competence so that as the student advances, his or her capacities of expression in the medium of education as also in other languages become better and better.

It should be noted that at present there is no machinery in our country through which curricular changes can be brought about. Hence, it would be necessary to establish assemblies of experts in different parts of the country as also a coordinating body at the national level as permanent bodies charged with the responsibilities connected with the required curricular changes.

Curricular changes necessarily demand new teaching and learning materials, which, in turn, will have to be specially designed in view of the fact that new methodologies of education, including those of TV and computer will require new styles of presentation. Appropriate agencies for these purposes should also be created at the local, regional and national levels.

The third major change will have to be effected in the system of recruitment and training of teachers. Teachers should be given the high status appropriate to the responsibilities that they are expected to discharge. The present situation where many become teachers only when they cannot find alternative employment should be discouraged through certain systematic measures. In order that those who have talent and aspiration to teach should be invited to join the teaching profession on the completion of the secondary or higher secondary education, admission to teachers' training programme should be conducted through an entrance test which will test, through written, oral and practical examinations, the candidates' academic abilities, adequate grounding for integral development of personality, value-orientation, physical fitness, national spirit of discipline and some other art or craft abilities.

Those admitted to the training programmes should receive an adequate stipend during the entire course of training.

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

The training programme itself should extend over five years, considering that the programme has to cover not only the ordinary academic components but also those components which are related to character development and explorations in regard to difficult things like the aim of life and various holistic subjects like environment and expanding frontiers of knowledge.

The fourth major change will be related to the examination system.

A minimum step in this domain will be to establish a national testing service, which will set up national standards and devise new methodology of testing students' academic and other abilities in such a way that mere mechanical intelligence would not be able to succeed. These tests will be written, oral, and practical. Methods will be devised by which personality test and character orientation and value-orientation can also be assessed. Physical fitness and creative abilities should also be assessed.

In order to encourage non-formal education and informal systems of education in the country, national tests should be open to any candidate whether he or she has or has not passed any previous tests or whether he or she has or has not participated in the formal system of education. Computer technology can be so utilised that each candidate can take the examination at any time he or she feels competent to take it. In order to make this possible, the national testing service should be a permanent body with adequate staff of examiners, who should themselves be continuously training them selves in the art of examination. The aim of national testing service should be to ensure every candidate a fair and full opportunity of being tested in obtaining a high level certification which will satisfy the potential employer of the authenticity and strictness with which candidate's capacities have been tested.

A still further innovation would be to create a permanent com mission of education at the national level. This commission should be designed to initiate and guide all the innovative projects and programmes which have been outlined briefly here. It will act as a stimulant factor in the country to obtain partnership in education between teachers, parents, students, educational administrators, policy makers, educational managers, media, and all other agencies,

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

which contribute to value-orientation and to the creation of a learning society in the country. It would also organise conferences, seminars, exhibitions, different events, which would keep the entire education world alive and vibrant; it would continuously study various aspects of education and various problems of education and present reports to the government, to the country and to people. It would also receive from people suggestions, complaints, grievances, and it should have the requisite authority to ensure that grievances of national importance are redressed and malpractices in education are prevented or remedied. This commission should be autonomous and answerable only to Parliament.

Simultaneously with all these proposed reforms, the country should set up special institutions, — at least one in each State, — which should serve as laboratory of research and experimentation where students and teachers join on a voluntary basis to learn and to teach through methods of exploration, where the emphasis would be laid on those aspects which are essential for building up the new road of vertical progression, — the third road. This new road cannot be imposed from above. People and country can only provide facilities and opportunities, but participation has to be entirely voluntary. Only those who are burning with aspiration, those who want to sacrifice themselves in the task of realisation of the highest, of the truest and of the perfect should be encouraged to come together in these propitious sites. Here education would be perpetual and efforts would be concentrated on those goals which are crucial for the resolution of the crisis through which humanity is passing today.


The new road, — the third road, — need not be so difficult as is imagined, if we realise that India has been, consciously or unconsciously, building up this road right from the Vedic times. Some image of this road can be gained through the pages of the Upanishads where Rishis and Kings and princes, children and women were stirred to discover the meaning of life and the ways and means of arriving at the loftiest realisations as also of the con-

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

quest of evil, sorrow and suffering. The system of education, known as Gurukula system, which was built in those times, appears to have been perfected in many aspects; and when we study the insights and principles embodied in that system, we are bound to get guidance, the value of which cannot be sufficiently estimated. It is not surprising that even in the declining days when India came under the attacks of foreign power, something of that system still persisted, and as soon as India became reawakened, dreams of rebuilding that system or recasting it in new forms have seized the minds of the greatest of our educationists. Actually, pioneering efforts, which had begun towards the end of the XIXth century, have continued and we have today a rich accumulation of results of these efforts. The treasure of these results can now come to our help.

The most important element of this treasure is related to the acceptance of dynamic material life and its transformation by means of superconscient light. In contrast to the life negating philosophies, here the emphasis is on life-affirmation, and education is so conceived that life itself is attempted to be the teacher of life by means of organising life in an integral manner under the overarching power of the psychic and spiritual light. The drive of this education is neither materialistic nor religious, although it accepts the affirmation of Matter which is the truth underlying materialism and it accepts the affirmation of Spirit, which is the truth underlying religion or religionism. The methods of this education are attempted to be derived from Yogic science which transcends tendencies of exclusivism that we find among conflicting philosophies, doctrines and religions.

As a matter of fact, it can be said that we possess in India today those experiences, insights and assured results which can enable us to invent a new mode of education, and, therefore, a new road which can meet the needs that have been stressed here as most essential. We may present here only a synoptic statement of some of those insights that may be helpful in our immediate explorations and in building up the first laboratories of research and experimentation which we have proposed a little earlier.

1. Sovereignty of the child and the youth

The entire society should be increasingly conceived to be built

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

on the pattern of a learning society, and it must be so organised that is declares in all its activities the sovereignty of the child and the youth. Hence, it will not permit any activity which would be injurious to the highest interests of the value-oriented integral development of the child and the youth. The learning society will emphasise preschool education, primary education and elementary education, during which the child will be so guided that its psychic being can be fostered along with the development of its faculties on the lines of its svabhava and svadharma. The child will also learn the art of self-education so that the subsequent development is propelled consciously by inner and progressive self-determination, as far as possible. The responsibility of teachers and of society will be to create an atmosphere and environment, which will remain surcharged with the ideas and inspirations conducive to the promotion of Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

2. The Child and the Future

The most important element that inspires children is the presentation of bright visions of the future that has to be built against the obstinate obstacles of the old world. This can be done through stories, plays, short poems and activities of drawing, painting, music, which embody a drive towards the building of the new world. Visions of the unity of humanity, messages of freedom and harmony need to be underlined.

3. Emphasis on progress

Children normally like to grow and develop and measure their progress. And the sign of progress is the inner happiness that they experience and this inner happiness is the inevitable result of the development of faculties of personality. Therefore, the atmospheric pressure in educational activities should be built up by a special emphasis on progress.

4. Emphasis on Perfection

At a little higher stage of development, the idea of perfection begins to inspire the young minds, and perfection as maximum or as a state of equilibrium or as absolute can be held before the children as a standard towards which they can constantly aspire to progress.

5. Freedom and Discipline

At an early stage of educational process, students begin to

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

experience the conflict between freedom and discipline, and while they demand more and more freedom, teachers and parents normally prescribe to them the rules and regulations of discipline. The consequent conflict can be resolved only if teachers and parents appreciate the demands of freedom and develop in their own lives the example of self-discipline, which can automatically create the necessary vibrations in the atmosphere that inspire the children to develop self-control and self-discipline. Discipline should be the child of freedom, and when self-control emerges through process of self-determination, the student becomes capable of accepting austerities of discipline which no outer method can even imagine.

6. The first task of the teacher is not to teach but to observe the students

Contrary to the view that the teachers' task is to teach, the real truth is that no meaningful teaching can be done by teachers unless students are observed carefully and understood sympathetically, so that the psychological powers of the students, actual or latent, are guided through various methods which aim at gradual evolution and awakening in each student the inner guiding light and integrating principle.

7. Research should be the method of learning at all stages

Contrary to the usual idea that methods of research should be reserved for the higher ranges of tertiary education, the truth of learning processes is that one learns best what is arrived at by exploration, by seeking and finding. Hence, the teacher should consult the child in its growth and provide materials that will Stimulate exploration and research as instruments of learning. This will minimise the utilities of teaching through lecturing; it will maximise the utility of various media through which talks and demonstrations conducted by the best teachers of the world can be brought nearer to the students; and it will create conditions of personal dialogue between the teacher and the pupil, as and when necessary, — a method that was best developed and utilised by the teachers of the Upanishads.

Learning by doing, learning by practising and learning to learn will be underlined according to the needs of the progress of each

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

student. Due emphasis will be laid on the integration of the hand, head and heart through various activities which will underline not only the value of knowledge but also the value of art, crafts and physical labour.

Appropriate to each student's predominant and subordinate characteristics, the teacher will guide students to arrive ultimately at developing the fourfold personality of knowledge, power, harmony and skill.

8.Emphasis on the power of mental silence

The secret of all learning is concentration, and concentration is best developed by cultivating quietude, tranquillity, silence and peace of the mind. Yogic experience affirms that knowledge is best gained in the state of silence, and it is in the state of inner peace that the soul blossoms and the entire life and environment become alive and vibrant with inner joy.

Harmony with Nature rather than control and exploitation of Nature can best be developed when the child is freed from the imprisoning walls of the school, and when plants, and trees, flowers, running brooks or rivers and inviting heights of hills provide the natural environment.

9. Stress on development of faculties

Contrary to the present system of education where more and more subjects and more and more books are being loaded on the minds of students, the new road of education will emphasise development of faculties, — those of understanding, of analysis and synthesis, of intuition and revelation and inspiration. Subjects and books will be chosen keeping the development of faculties as the central object of basic education.

Emphasis will also be laid on developing three or four major subjects, which would be holistic in character and which will pro vide basic insights into the interrelationship of subjects, interrelationship of faculties, and interrelationship of disciplines of body, life, mind, and spirit. The suggested subjects are those of evolution, environment and human unity.

Study of languages and study of history will be so designed that students will learn with ease and interest several languages and their comparative vocabularies. In linguistic study, stress will

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

be on those languages which will make access to the Indian and universal cultural heritage greatly facilitated.

History will be so taught through great passages of literature, great and inspiring biographies of leaders of different domains that a holistic vision of the growth of humanity towards the goal of its unity becomes unfolded in the mind of the student. It will be emphasised that history is not merely the study of the past but a great door opening on the future.

10. Music, art and poetry

A large number of students are greatly attracted by the mystery and magic of these three domains, and contrary to the prejudices which are to be often found against them among parents, teachers and so called practical and successful people, these three subjects should be encouraged greatly, particularly when it is realised that these three provide the best education to the inmost soul of the student.

11. Emphasis on skills

Contrary to the tendency to emphasise academic studies almost exclusively, education must stress the development of skills, which are a direct road to efficient vocational and technological education.

Dealing with Matter skilfully, carefully and diligently is the sure basis of the material stability of a culture and of making Matter subservient to the higher aims of culture, — even of spiritual culture.

12. Physical Education

Well balanced healthy body is the means of realisation of the highest ideals. Shariram adyam khalu dharma sadhanam. Hence, physical education that aims at health and strength, agility and perfect coordination of the bodily movements should be under lined, and along with it the moral and spiritual qualities that can be easily developed through mass exercises, games and sports must also be stressed.

At higher and higher stages of education, the theme of synthesis should be underlined, — synthesis of thought, synthesis of science and spirituality, synthesis of cultures and synthesis of yogic disciplines with humanities, sciences, arts, and technologies.

Education at Crossroads

Education at Crossroads

This will necessarily expand the scope of education into unending education and unending youth. Closely connected with the development of personality is the claim of professional education, which is often placed in conflict with the inner development of personality. However, the right handling of education for integral personality will reveal that everyone's profession is secretly pre sent in one's personality, and the highest professional excellence can best be achieved only when it becomes a part of the effective expression of the integral development of personality.

Much can be written on all the above points; much of it can be debated; but it is precisely this debate that is necessary to be initiated and conducted seriously and sincerely. As we have stated at the very beginning, education is at crossroads, and we are in urgent need to build and design new roads of education. We all need, therefore, to come together to deliberate on this extremely important subject so that each one of us makes the best contribution that one is capable of.

Education at Crossroads

Back to Content