Education for Tomorrow - Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application


Integral Education as Life-long Education

Integral education is life-long education, and it begins even before the birth of body and continues throughout the life. And while in the beginning, a great stress falls on the development of the body, life and mind, much can be done both by parents and teachers to commence psychic education at the early stages of development. In fact, the psychic being is very responsive in childhood, and if the right atmosphere is provided to it, and if at the later stages, great care is taken to provide physical, vital and mental education on proper lines, psychic being can be helped to come more and more to the forefront, and discovery of the psychic being can be greatly facilitated. This discovery is considered in integral education as of supreme importance, because through it one becomes conscious of one's destiny and master of one's life.

Psychic Education

In her small but great book on Education, The Mother has stated the' following:

"The psychic being is a great discovery which requires at least as much fortitude and endurance as the discovery of new continents. A few

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

simple words of advice may be useful to one who has resolved to undertake it.

"The first and perhaps the most important point is that the mind is incapable of judging spiritual things. All those who have written on this subject have said so; but very few are those who have put it into practice. And yet, in order to proceed on the path, it is absolutely indispensable to abstain from all mental opinion and reaction.

"Give up all personal seeking for comfort, satisfaction, enjoyment or happiness. Be only a burning fire for progress, take whatever comes to you as an aid to your progress and immediately make whatever progress is required.

"Try to take pleasure in all you do, but never do anything for the sake of pleasure.

"Never get excited, nervous or agitated. Remain perfectly calm in the face of all circumstances. And yet be always alert to discover what progress you still have to make and lose no time in making it.

"Never take physical happenings at their face value. They are always a clumsy attempt to express something else, the true thing which escapes our Superficial understanding.

"Never complain of the behavior of anyone, unless you have the power to change in his nature what makes him act in this way; and if you have the power, change him instead of complaining.

"Whatever you do, never forget the goal which you have set before you. There is nothing great or small once you have set out on this great discovery; all things are equally important and can either hasten

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

or delay its success. Thus before you eat, concentrate a few seconds in the aspiration that the food you are about to eat may bring your body the substance it needs to serve as a solid basis for your effort towards the great discovery, and give it the energy for persistence and perseverance in the effort.

"Before you go to sleep, concentrate a few seconds in the aspiration that the sleep may restore your fatigued nerves, bring calm and quietness to your brain so that on waking you may, with renewed vigor, begin again your journey on the path of the great discovery.

"Before you act, concentrate in the will that your action may help or at least in no way hinder your march forward towards the great discovery.

"When you speak, before the words come out of your mouth, concentrate just long enough to check your words and allow only those that are absolutely necessary to pass, only those that are not in any way harmful to your progress on the path of the great discovery.

"To sum up, never forget the purpose and goal of your life. The will for the great discovery should be always there above you, above what you do and what you are, like a huge bird of light dominating all the movements of your being." 1.

As far as the aid that parents and teachers can give, it may first be noted that a good many children are under the influence of the psychic presence which


1. The Mother, Collected Works, Centenary Edition, Vol. 12, pp.33-4

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

shows itself very distinctively at times in their spontaneous reactions and even in their words. All spontaneous turning to love, truth, beauty, knowledge, nobility, heroism, is a sure sign of the psychic influence. To recognize these reactions and to encourage them wisely and with a psychic feeling would be the first indispensable step.

It is also important to note that to say good words, to give wise advice to a child has very little effect, if one does not show by one's living example the truth of what one teaches.

The best qualities to develop in children are sincerity, honesty, straightforwardness, courage, disinterestedness, unselfishness, patience, endurance, perseverance, peace, calm and self-control, and they are taught infinitely better by example than by speeches, however, beautiful.

The role of the teacher is to put the child upon the right road to his own perfection and encourage him to follow it watching, suggesting, helping, but not imposing or interfering. The best method of suggestion is by personal example, daily conversation, and books read from day-to-day.

These books should contain, for younger students, the loftiest examples of the past, given not as moral lessons but as things of supreme human interest, and for elder students, the great thoughts of great souls, the passages of literature which can set fire to the highest emotions and prompt the highest ideals and aspirations, the records of history

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

and biography which exemplify the living of those great thoughts, noble emotions and inspiring ideals.

Opportunity should be given to students to emulate in action the deeper and nobler impulses which rise within them.

The undesirable impulses and habits should not be treated harshly. The child should not be scolded except with a definite purpose and only when it is felt indispensable. Particularly, care should be taken not to rebuke the child for a fault which one commits oneself. Children are very keen and clear-sighted observers; they take no time to find out the weaknesses and note them without pity.

When a child makes a mistake, one must see that he confesses it to the teacher or the guardian spontaneously and frankly; and when he has confessed, he should be made to understand with kindness and affection what was wrong in the movement and precaution should be taken to see that he does not repeat it. A fault confessed must be forgiven. The child should be encouraged to think of wrong impulses not as sins or offences but as symptoms of a curable disease, alterable by a steady and sustained effort of the will, - falsehood being rejected and replaced by truth, fear by courage, selfishness by sacrifice, attachment by renunciation and malice by love.

Due care should be taken to see that unformed virtues are not rejected as faults. The wildness and recklessness of many young natures are only the over-flowing of excessive strength, greatness and nobility. They should be purified and not discouraged.

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

Affection that sees clearly, is firm and yet gentle and a sufficiently practical knowledge will create bonds of trust that are indispensable for the educator to make education of the child effective.

When a child asks a question, he should not be answered by saying that it is stupid or foolish, or that the answer will not be understood by him. Curiosity cannot be postponed, and effort should be made to answer the question truthfully and in such a way as to make the answer accessible to the brain of the hearer.

With the growing awareness, the child should be taught to concentrate on the inner psychic presence and make it more and more a living reality.

The child should be taught that whenever there is an inner uneasiness, he should not pass it off and try to forget it, but should attend to it and try to find out by an inner observation the cause of the uneasiness so that it may be removed by some methods, inner or outer.

When the psychic being begins to be discovered, we find that it burns in the temple of the inmost heart behind the thick screen of the ignorant mind, life and body. As Sri Aurobindo points out:

"The veiled psychic is the flame of the Godhead always alight within us, inextinguishable even by that dense unconsciousness of any spiritual self within which obscures our outward nature... It is the concealed Witness and Control, the hidden Guide, the Daemon of Socrates, the inner light or inner voice

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

of the mystic... It is the individual soul, caitya purusa, supporting mind, life and body, standing behind the mental, the vital, the subtle-physical being in us and watching and profiting by their development and experience... It is this secret psychic entity which is the true original Conscience in us deeper than the constructed and conventional conscience of the moralist, for it is this which points always towards Truth and Right and Beauty, towards Love and Harmony and all that is a divine possibility in us, and persists till these things become the major need of our nature... If the secret psychic person can come forward into the front... the whole nature can be turned towards the real aim of life, the supreme victory, the ascent into spiritual existence." 1

Mental Education

In regard to mental education, the processes and methods can best be determined by under- standing of the mind. Mind is concerned largely with the activities of understanding, and all understanding is a discovery of a centre around which the ideas or things in question are held together.

Mental education is a process of training the mind of students to arrive at such central conceptions around which the widest and most complex and subtle ideas can be assimilated and integrated.

It is again found that even these central conceptions point still to a beyond, to their own essential Meaning, which can be glimpsed and conceived by the mind, but which cannot be held


1. Sri Aurobindo, Vol. 18, Centenary Edition, pp.225-7

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

and possessed fully in experience by the mind. This point marks the climax of the mental development as also a clear sign of the limitations of the mind. Having reached there its office is to fall into contemplation of silence and to open to the higher realms of experience, to receive clearly and precisely the intuitions and inspirations from those higher realms, and to give creative expression to them.

To train the mind on these lines, there are five phases of the programme:

Development of the power of concentration, and attention;

Development of the capacities of expansion, wideness, complexity and richness;

Organisation of ideas round a central or a higher ideal or a supremely luminous idea that will serve as a guide in life;

Thought control, rejection of undesirable thoughts so that one may, in the end, think only what one wants and when one wants;

Development of mental silence, perfect calm and a more and more total receptivity to inspirations coming from the higher regions of the being.

Multiplicity of ideas, richness of ideas, totality of points of view -- these should be made to grow by a developed power of observation and concentration and by a wideness of interests. Care should be taken to see that the central ideas are not imposed upon the growing mind -- that would be the dogmatic method, which tends to atrophy the mind. The mind should grow towards central ideas which should come

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

as a discovery of the mind made through rigorous exercise of the rational faculty.

Stress should fall not only on understanding, but also on criticism and control of ideas; not only on comprehension, synthesis, creativity, judgment, imagination, memory and observation, but also on critical functions of comparison, reasoning, deduction, inference and conclusion. Both these aspects of human reason are essential to the completeness of the mental training.

One of the best methods is to create an atmosphere in which massive and powerful ideas are constantly thrown as a stimulation and challenge impelling the students to arrive at them or strive to grasp and assimilate them.

Thinkers alone can produce thinkers; and unless teachers are constantly in the process of building up great thoughts and ideas, it is futile to expect a sound or vigorous mental education.

An atmosphere vibrant at once with ideation and silence, an atmosphere surcharged with synthetic thoughts and most integral aspirations and an atmosphere filled with the widest realisation and a harmonious unity -- such an atmosphere is indispensable for perfect mental education.

A constant attempt should be made to present each topic to the student in a challenging way so as to stimulate him and create his interest in the topic. To find new and imaginative methods, to compile materials from various sources, to introduce new concepts and new interpretations in various subjects, to develop .new subjects, and above all, to attend

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

in detail to all the psychological faculties and their development in such a way that the mental education does not veil the soul --this, in brief, should be the endeavour and its spirit.

Vital Education

We now come to vital education.

Vital education aims at training the life -force (that normally vibrates in emotions, desires and impulses) in three directions: to discover its real function and to replace its egoistic and ignorant tendency so as to become the master by a willingness and capacity to serve higher principles of the psychological constitution; to subtilise and sublimate its sensitivity which expresses itself through sensuous and aesthetic activities; and to resolve and transcend the dualities and contradictions in the character constituted by the vital seekings, and to achieve the transformation of the character.

The usual methods of dealing with the vital have been those of coercion, suppression, abstinence and asceticism. But these methods do not give lasting results. Besides, they only help in drying up the drive and dynamism of the life-force; and thus the collaboration of the life-force in self-fulfilment is eliminated.

The right training of the vital then is much more subtle and much more difficult, needing endurance, endless persistence and an inflexible will. For what is to be aimed at is not the negation of life but the fulfillment of life by its transformation.

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

First, the powers of the senses have to be developed, subtilised and enriched. Next, there are inner and latent senses which are to be discovered and similarly developed. Third, the seekings of these senses have to be trained to reject grossness and coarseness and to enjoy the finer tastes and higher aesthetic experiences. Finally, there has to be a deeper and piercing observation of the desires, passions, ambitions, lusts, etc., their risings, revolts and contradictions, and an attempt by various methods to separate out in each movement the elements that contribute to the concord and harmony from those tending in the opposite direction, and to eliminate these latter from the very nature and fibre of our psychological constitution.

The effective methods of this last aspect are:

— to instill in the child, as soon as possible, the will towards progress and perfection;

— rational arguments, sentiment and goodwill, or appeal to the sense of dignity and self-respect, according to the nature of the child in question;

— to insist on the idea that the will can be developed, and that no defeat should be taken as final;

— to demand from the will the maximum effort, for the will is strengthened by effort;

— above all, the example of the educator shown constantly and sincerely.

But still the direction in which the effort has to be made can be known only by the training of the mind and by the opening of the secret knowledge that is within our psychic being. To develop therefore

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

in the vital the habit to open to this light and to. act in that light would be to place the vital in its proper place as a will-force executing the inner and higher knowledge.

Vital education is greatly aided by stress on different kinds of fine arts and crafts. Sri Aurobindo has written at length on the contribution that Art can make to the integral education in his important book, "The National Value of Art". He has pointed out that the first and the lowest use of Art is the purely aesthetic, the second is the intellectual and the third and the highest is the spiritual. He has even stated that music, art and poetry are a perfect education for the soul; they make and keep its movement purified, deep and harmonious. He has added, "These, therefore, are agents which cannot profitably be neglected by humanity on its onward march or degraded to the mere satisfaction of sensuous pleasure which will disintegrate rather than build the character. They are, when properly used, great educating, edifying and civilizing forces." 1

A great lesson in vital education is to develop the will of the individual and to encourage the exercise of the will in which what is valued most is not the result, but application and doing one's best.

Physical Education

On the subject of physical education, it must be mentioned that the physical is our base, and even the highest spiritual values are to be expressed through the life that is embodied here. Sariram


1. Sri Aurobindo, Vol. 17, Centenary Edition, p. 246

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

adyam khalu dharmasadhanam, says the old Sanskrit adage, -- the body is the means of fulfillment of dharma, while dharma means every ideal which we can propose to ourselves and the law of its working out and its action.

Of all the domains of education, physical is the one most completely governed by method, order, discipline and procedure. All education of the body must be rigorous, detailed and methodical.

The education of the body has three principal aspects: control and discipline of functions of the body; a total methodical and harmonious development of all the parts and movements of the body; rectification of defects and deformities, if there are any.

Physical education must be based upon knowledge of the human body, its structure and its functions. And the formation of the habits of the body must be in consonance with that knowledge.

The child should be taught right from the early stage the right positions, postures and movements.

A similar training should be with regard to the choice of food. The child should develop the taste that is simple and healthy, substantial and appetising. He must avoid all that merely stuffs and causes heaviness; particularly, he must be taught to eat according to his hunger and not make food a means to satisfy his greed and gluttony.

The child should also be taught the taste for cleanliness and hygienic habits. It is important to impress upon the child that he is not more interesting by being ill, rather the contrary. Children should be taught that to be ill is a sign of failing and inferiority, not of virtue or sacrifice.

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

Freedom and Discipline

A very important problem in respect of integral education arises from its insistence on. proper synthesis between freedom and discipline. Since education is a creative process, and since compulsion and creativity cannot go together, freedom has to be a very important instrument of education. The ideal condition is obtained when discipline becomes the child of freedom and discipline is transformed into self-discipline.

We have to recognise that different children react to various activities of education differently. There are children who feel a powerful attraction towards creative activities such as arts, music, dance, composition of poetry, drama, etc. They should, of course, be given freedom to pursue these valuable activities. But there are instances where children who do not have this natural inclination towards creative activities are also compelled to be engaged in these activities. This is entirely unacceptable.

We may also need to note that there are children who do not easily respond either to the activities of creativity or activities of production, but who are deeply reflective and to whom abstraction of thought and clarity and beauty of ideation constitute a fascinating project. We must recognise that a deep exercise in ideation and organisation of ideas is a very active engagement. It is a great activity of concentration.

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

At the same time, an exclusive pursuit of ideation without devoting any attention whatever to creative or productive activity may lead to a lopsided development of personality. But the remedy is not to make things compulsory, but to counsel children, to motivate and suggest to them how gradually various kinds of activities can be blended together for a harmonious development. But while counselling, the teacher must realise and appreciate that there are periods where psychologically even an exclusive development of ideative activity or productive activity or creative activity has its legitimate claims. To what degree this claim has to be satisfied and in what way this claim has to be subordinated to the other claims of development will demand from the teacher a very deep insight into the inner psychological workings of the formation of the personality and his sympathetic understanding of the psychological differences among various children.

It may also be noted that there are children who are deeply interested in activities of self-sacrifice or of purifying their base emotions, or of the worship of the noblest ideals of life. Sometimes they may show no interest in studies or in arts or in crafts and often teachers complain of their dullness or their lack of concentration in studies. But a good teacher should ask himself if the child in question is not inwardly engaged in what may be called activities of "purification".

There could also be children like Yuddhishthira who would not claim that they have learnt a lesson unless they have succeeded in practising it in their daily life. These are indeed noble children and the

Methods And Practical Application

Methods And Practical Application

teacher should be able to appreciate their nobility and encourage it so as to lead it to its perfection.

During the course of educational process, students often come up with some very fundamental questions but they often remain unanswered. Why, for example, should one learn mathematics? What does really history teach us? What is the relationship between language and mathematics? What is the aim of life? There should be freedom to raise these questions and also enough time and readiness to answer them, even though they may not be a part of any prescribed syllabus.

Another important point that should be noted is that a great care should be taken to get the development of the child in such a way that inspite of the growth of knowledge, the student does not lose freshness and sense of wonder and mystery. This indeed is the most difficult part of the work of the teacher.

Methods And Practical Application

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