A Philosophy of The Role of The Contemporary Teacher - Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher
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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

In order to understand the meaning and significance of the role that the contemporary teacher is called upon to play, we need to clarify the fundamentals of education as well as the perennial and emerging objectives of education. There are three fundamental ideas underlying the educational process.

There is, first, the pursuit of man to know himself and the universe and to relate himself with the universe as effectively as possible. This pursuit constitutes the very theme of human culture, and education derives its fundamental thrust from the cultural setting at a given point of time. Secondly, there is a process of transmission of the accumulated results of the past to the growing generation so as to enable it to carry forward the cultural heritage and to build the gates and paths of the future. Thirdly, there is in the process of transmission a deliberate attempt to accelerate as far as possible the process of human progress.

These three premises provide us with the basic indications of what may be called the perennial objectives of education. Being at once a product and instrument of culture, education must promote the highest aims of culture, and, in particular, it must encourage and foster the quest for the knowledge of man and the universe, as well as the arts and sciences and of their inter-relationship. Secondly, education should aim at building new bridges between the past and the future. Thirdly, education should endeavour to discover and apply increasingly efficient means of the right rhythms of acceleration of human progress.

There are, in every age and every important phase of transition, certain special objectives relevant to certain special needs. There are at least three emerging objectives, namely, education for peace, education for development, and education for the integral growth of personality.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

Education for Peace

An elementary condition in which man finds himself in his relations with fellow-beings and the world is that of a struggle for existence. This struggle is often portrayed as a battle between the creature and Nature. While we may not belittle the role played by the sense of battle and conquest that seem inherent in certain stages of human endeavour, we observe that as man becomes increasingly self-conscious, an irresistible tendency grows in him to learn the laws of harmony between himself and the universe.

In recent times, a new dimension has been added because of the increasing world tensions which have reached such a high pitch that human survival itself has become endangered. This has led to the realization of an imperative need of directing our efforts to generate and strengthen forces of understanding, harmony and peace.

Peace is sometimes conceived negatively to mean mere absence of war. But peace is fundamentally a positive concept, and while in the highest sense it refers to ‘peace that passeth understanding’, it is, in the context of dynamism, the stable foundation of all harmonious activities. Peace is a positive striving, and in the present condition of the world, this striving implies a rigorous pursuit of international understanding and cooperation. In the field of education, this implies an international dimension and a global perspective at all levels and in all its forms. It also implies understanding and respect for all peoples, their cultures, civilizations, values and ways of life, including domestic ethnic culture and cultures of other nations. At a deeper level we should mean by international understanding not merely knowledge of other countries’ cultures and peoples, but also a responsible commitment to the idea and practice of the Family of Man.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

In other words, international understanding should mean a commitment to that mode of consciousness in which mutual dependence of each upon all and of all upon each is indispensable.

Indeed, international understanding does not emerge merely from exchange of ideas but it emanates fundamentally from an increasing exploration of man within himself and from a discovery of the inner identity and universality of man. A divided man is not only at war with himself but also at war with others. It is largely man’s ignorance of himself and his own incapacities which condemn him to respond to outside influences which engender divisions, tensions and discords.

Finally, it is man’s failure to discover any durable meaning or aim of life that reduces him to become a plaything of the forces of degeneration, decay and destruction. An integrated man, in possession of himself and set in dynamic search of knowledge and power, in service of the highest conceivable aim of life, can effortlessly become a potent instrument of harmonious relationships and of peace. It follows, therefore, that the promotion of education and training so as to multiply human beings of this kind is evidently one of the most important objectives that the contemporary teacher is called upon to promote.

We may go even further. Today the ideal of human unity is more or less vaguely making its way to the front of our consciousness, and the increasing advocacy of world peace is preparing a firm foundation for the realization of this ideal. The intellectual and material circumstances of the age have prepared and almost imposed this ideal, especially the scientific discoveries which have made our earth so small, that its vastest kingdoms seem now no more than the provinces of a single country.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

It is necessary to remember that when material circumstances favour a great change but the heart and mind of the race are not really ready, failure may be predicted. Indeed, this failure can be prevented if men become wise in time and accept the inner change along with external readjustment. It is here that education can play a crucial role, since it is through education that the heart and mind of the race can most effectively be made ready for the needed change.

If we examine closely, we shall find that the growing search for the unification of mankind reveals one basic tension. This tension results from two opposing but equally powerful tendencies; the one towards uniformity, and the other towards unity. The two seem similar to each other and yet they engender such dissimilar consequences that it becomes necessary to recognize the dangers of the one and the difficulties of the other, and to conceive or design appropriate lines of action. In doing so, care should be taken to recognize the needs and truths of the collective life of mankind.

Uniformity, if led to its logical extreme, would impose not only the rule of one language, but also the overpowering dominion of one aspect of culture. Unity, on the other hand, would permit differences and differentiations which pose difficulties of separateness and psychological tensions. Yet, unity in diversity is preferable to uniformity; for while the problems arising out of uniformity seem to demand an unacceptable solution which would imprison for ever the freedom of the human spirit, the problems arising out of the drive towards unity seem capable of a solution, which requires difficult but attainable cultivation of the deeper and higher faculties of personality. The task before us is to prepare men and women in such a way that the preferred ideal of unity can be realized without the avoidable pains of con´Čéicts and tensions.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

Education for Development

Man’s increasing capacity to change or determine the conditions of his life, has been responsible for his continuous progress and his thrust towards the future. To develop this capacity has been one of the perennial objectives of education. Since the industrial revolution, and increasingly since subsequent revolutions however, man’s pace of progress has grown manifold, and his thrust towards the future has become more persistent and more deliberate. It is in this context that education for progress and development has emerged as one of the major objectives of education.

Development is an ambiguous concept and needs to be clarified. Development may sometimes come to be identified with the growth of excessive consumption, competition and self-assertiveness. To the rationalistic and idealistic mind, this concept is decidedly negative. A more acceptable concept of development involves two ingredients: productivity and social justice. In recent times, the insistence on social justice has grown and it is even felt that social justice must precede economic growth. Again, social justice can be conceived in terms of several alternative frameworks of economy and polity, although the increasing tendency today is to combine democracy and socialism and to aim at the synthesis of liberty, equality and fraternity.

What exactly should combining democracy and socialism mean? Democracy should mean not any particular form of economic or political framework but the freedom of the individual to grow towards his self-perfection by means of self-determination. Similarly, socialism should mean not the deification of the state but a cultivated awareness of collectivity and a voluntary subordination of the individual to the needs and decisions of the collective as an integral part of the process of individual and collective perfection.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher
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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

In other words, when we speak of democratic socialism, we should mean a state of existence where collectivity respects the freedom of the individual in his pursuit of perfection, and where the individual freely sacrifices his narrow interests and his egoism in the interests of the development of the collectivity.

Development ought to aim at the growth of this kind of inter-relationship between the individual and collectivity. But even this is not enough. Development needs the promotion of science and technology. Fortunately today, science and technology have reached amazing heights of achievement; but in order that the pace of progress is enhanced, there must be a positive encouragement to the development of scientific temper and to the right use of scientific and technological knowledge in solving both our economic and cultural problems. This encouragement can best be expected from the teacher, and this is what is rightly expected from the contemporary teacher.

The development of scientific temper often remains confined to the cultivation of a mere attitude of questioning. But there are four important ingredients of scientific temper and all of them need to be developed as adequately as possible. These are: impartial observation, untiring experimentation, unprejudiced consideration of every point of view relevant to the enquiry; and courage to go to the end of the enquiry until the ascertainable truth emerges, through a process of verification and utmost possible synthesis of arguments and counter-arguments.

The development of a robust but refined scientific brain is an undeniable necessity. By implication, it follows that the contemporary teacher is required to endeavour to embody in himself the ideal modes of scientific thinking and to practise scientific method in his quest for knowledge.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

Sometimes a sharp contrast is drawn between creativity and scientific attitude. Often this contrast is portrayed to show a conflict between art and science; but if we look into the problem closely, we shall find that this conflict is imaginary rather than real. As a matter of fact, science itself can be conceived as a creative activity. For creativity is, in its essence, an outpouring expression of curiosity or urge that issues from an intimate experience or from some achieved fullness or irresistible need for fullness.

In this light, science, no less than art, is a creative expression, and even when the scientific method insists on an austere and colourless adherence to facts, the rigorous discipline of science can be sustained only by the creative impulse. Also, we cannot forget to note that the framing of hypothesis, which is a part of the process of scientific induction, requires a fertile but rigorous imagination on the part of the scientist. We may also note that adherence to facts is itself an act of disciplined creativity, since, in order to arrive at facts, the scientist needs to pierce through the veil of appearances.

It must be admitted that artistic creativity is a neglected area and a great effort is needed to promote, in particular, the value of art. It is also time that teachers are asked to evolve ways and means by which the educational process is transformed into creative experience. This is particularly necessary when we speak of weaving culture into education. It is necessary for our educational system to provide opportunities and conditions under which the faculties of imagination, adventure, profound sensitivity, colourful and rhythmic expression can grow and blossom. We have been neglecting literature and poetry, painting and music, dance and drama. The minimum that is necessary, and which should find a legitimate place in any scheme of education is the appreciation of art.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

It needs to be underlined that one cannot appreciate art unless one has practised one’s own discipline as a creative activity or practised some art, at least, as an amateur.

Mere information on creativity is not enough. What is basically required is some direct experience of painting or music or dance or drama or architecture or poetry. It has been said, and quite rightly, that cultural experience grows and develops under the sense of leisure. But our educational programmes are not designed with a view to permit the required interweaving of leisure with activities of rigorous and disciplined studies.

It is for this reason that it has been contended that our educational system has succeeded in exiling the romance of learning and the joy of creativity from the portals of learning.

It is high time that this situation is reversed, and once again the major responsibility for this comes to be fixed on the contemporary teacher.

Development also needs to be related to the highest conceivable principles and values. These belong to realms which are not necessarily visible physically but are approachable more easily through the mind and spirit. If we examine this domain closely, it becomes clear that we need a new programme of research.

If this research is encouraged, we might not only discover new and rich contents of the ethical and spiritual domains but we might also open up a new domain where the modern trends of science can meet and converge on the ancient and renascent knowledge of the secrets of spiritual perfection.

Here, again, we make a very heavy demand on the contemporary teacher.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

Education for Integral Personality

There are various notions of what constitutes personality. Sometimes a distinction is made between personality and character. In one view personality is regarded as a fixed structure of recognizable qualities expressing a power of being and individuality. According to another idea, while personality is a flux of self-expressive or sensitive and responsive being, character is the formed fixity of a pattern or structure of qualities.

If we examine the matter closely, we find that there is in every one a double element—the unformed though limited flux of being, out of which personality is fashioned and the personal formation out of that flux. The formation may become rigid and ossify or it may remain sufficiently plastic and change constantly and develop.

For a proper definition of personality, we should take into account not only this flux and fixity but also a third element—the individual or person of whom the personality is a self-expression. This individual is sometimes conceived as the ego; but ego, when examined critically, reveals itself as a finite looking at itself as self-existent and yet unstable in its status and its movement—a self-contradiction.

According to certain dominant trends of Indian thought, there is a distinction between the ego and the individual. The egoistic personality is, according to this thought, a personality that is at war with itself. The true individual is harmonious, admits his dependence upon the whole and lives in and through relations of mutuality and harmony. It is the discovery and development of this individual that is relevant to the integration of personality.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

It has been suggested quite rightly that the most important exercise that is directly relevant to the growth of integral personality is to examine life and to discover the highest possible aim of life.

Historically, there have been three major aims of life. There is a view, first, that the aim of life is to prepare oneself for a life in another world, which is sometimes conceived as heaven or paradise.

According to the second view, the aim of life is to seek liberation not only from the physical world but also from any possible worldly existence—physical or supra-physical.

According to the third view, the cosmos or physical universe is the only reality or is the only reality that we can know, and therefore to do the utmost that one can in the physical world, to improve its condition and to improve man’s happiness or well-being or perfection in the physical world, is the highest conceivable aim of life. This view has, again, several varieties such as materialistic, vitalistic, pragmatic and idealistic.

It is easy to refrain from entering into the domain of discussion as to which of these aims of life is valid or invalid. It is also easy to affirm one view or the other with some kind of exclusiveness; but confronted with various alternatives, the human mind cannot remain satisfied unless it investigates the conflicting views and arrives at a conclusion or at some kind of synthesis.

This investigation, if encouraged and promoted rightly and imaginatively throughout the educational process, would go a long way in helping students to develop their personality and to progressively achieve inner and outer harmony and integration.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

It has been suggested, again, quite rightly, that the development of the integral personality will depend upon a simultaneous development of as many powers and faculties of human personality as can possibly be rightly balanced in each individual. A right balance of the development of body, heart and mind by means of the cultivation of faculties that promote knowledge, power, harmony and skill is the right condition of the integral development of personality. It has been pointed out that if the basic powers of personality are rightly balanced throughout the process of development, and if a healthy equilibrium of these powers is upheld progressively, then we can ensure a healthy development of an integral personality. There is here a clear recognition that this implies a life-long process of development, but it is underlined that it must begin right from the beginning, and that life-long education is a natural corollary of the idea of the development of integral personality.

A progressive development of various parts of the being, physical, vital, rational, aesthetic, moral and spiritual, is a necessary condition of integral growth. And the development of faculties and capacities of these various parts of the being is closely connected with the question of value-oriented education, for values are the ultimate ends that personality seeks to embody, express and fulfill.

Corresponding to each capacity there are specific values. For instance, corresponding to our physical capacities, there are values of health, strength, plasticity, grace and beauty. Corresponding to our rational capacities, there are values of truth, clarity, subtlety, complexity, impartiality and globality. Corresponding to the capacities of moral will, there are over-arching values of the good and the right. Corresponding to our aesthetic capacities, there are values of beauty and joy. And corresponding to our spiritual capacities, there are values of absoluteness and perfection.

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Educational Objectives and the Contemporary Teacher

The psychological co-relation between the capacities of personality and their corresponding values is often obscured by attempts that confine values exclusively to the domain of morality or by attempts to derive values and morality from a particular religion. It is true that religions prescribe values and very often they have well-knit codes of moral conduct. However, values are at the same time, so to say, autonomous and are found to be the highest expressions of our psychological fulfillment. They can and do stand apart and are independent of any particular code of conduct or any particular system. In education, we should promote values in their psychological aspect as a part of the development of personality.

The role that emerges for the teacher in relation to this objective of the integral development of personality is perhaps most exacting. This role demands from the teacher subtler dimensions. What is needed here is the involvement of the total being of the teacher and the learner in the learning process. The question here is not merely to deal with subjects and books but also with faculties and capacities, with their growth and their harmony, and with the combined power of concentration and will that need to be developed in various parts and aspects of the growing being.

The teacher will need to have not only a high degree of proficiency in his own subject or discipline, but he will also need to arrive, as rapidly as possible, at a considerable maturity of the growth of his own personality, and he will need to look upon his work of teaching as a part of the discipline required for the development of his own personality. It is only when the teacher grows in his own personality that he can contribute to fashioning of the personality of learners.

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