Rabindranath Tagore: A philosophical educationist

  • Category
    History & Culture
  • Published
    17th May, 2021

Context

Whole nation paid tribute to Rabindranath Tagore on the occasion of his birth anniversary

Background

  • 7th May 2021 witnessed 160th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore
  • Rabindranath Tagore has also been widely quoted in the recently concluded Bengal Elections
  • He was a poet, philosopher, social reformer and educationist
  • Tagore was the very first Asian to receive the Noble Prize.

Analysis

Life of Rabindranath Tagore

  • Tagore took birth in the city of Calcutta on 6th May, 1861
  • His school life enriched his thoughts about the importance of school. According to him school was a place which hinders the native growth of the child and brought unwarranted and oblivion harm to the development of personality. All this made him to construct his own philosophy of life and education.
  • At the age of 40, he himself initiated to set up his Shantiniketan Ashram (School) with around ten boys only to materialize his own ideas and ideals.
    • This institution turned into a world famous Vishva Bharati - a seat of international university and a melting point of Eastern and Western culture-a junction of humanity.
  • Rabindranath Tagore a.k.a Gurudev passed away on August 7, 1941 leaving his permanent impression in the hearts of mankind.

Understanding Tagore’s Educational Philosophy

The ‘Educational Philosophy’ given by him proclaims four fundamental principles which are considered under the following mentioned points:

(i) Freedom for the Child:

  • Tagore was a radical to the prevailing system of education where freedom was a faraway desire for the full nurturing of personality. He was a fervent promoter of granting ample freedom to the children.
  • He added, “Freedom does not mean mere independence of control and right to self-will. It means the liberation of all aspects and powers of the personality, viz, the senses, the vital energies, the various mental capacities including intelligence and imagination, as also the functions of the heart – feelings, emotions, sympathy and love.”
  • In the context of freedom, education has only one connotation which essentially means child’s own experiences and activities and “freedom from ignorance about the laws of universe and freedom from passion and prejudice in our communication with the human world.”
  • Therefore, freedom for the learner(child) was the fundamental principle in the whole area of educational activities.

(ii) Active Communication with Nature and Man:

  • Nature, according to him, is a manuscript of God where God resides and education should enable a person to realize his immediate relationship with nature and guides him to understand freely and voluntary from the book of nature.
  • Active contact with nature helps one in natural and spontaneous growth.
  • He advocates the communion of men with his fellow-men for gathering essential qualities to live amidst social groups, for he, the man, is fundamentally a gregarious animal. He said, “next to nature, the child should be brought into touch with the stream of social behaviour.” The children are brainwashed into the stream by the process of socialisation and social networks.
  • In other words, the child learns all forms of social behaviour through social contacts, and for the learning a good deal of opportunities should be provided to them.
  • True education is that which enables the child to be in touch with the complete life of people – economic, social, spiritual, intellectual and aesthetic life.

(iii) Creative Self-expression:

  • Education to be real must be of the whole man which includes all faculties including his emotions, senses and intellect.
  • Education must provide full-scale opportunities to the children for self-expression. For self- expression which is creative in nature, Tagore forwarded the following, activities like art, craft, music, drawing, painting, dramatics etc.
  • He said, “Hand-work and arts are the spontaneous overflow of our deeper nature and spiritual significance.”
  • In Shantiniketan the above activities mentioned were strongly undertaken by the children.
  • Tagore observed, a large part of human could never be able to find its expression in the basic language of words.
  • It must hold many other languages such as lines, colours, sounds and movements for the exposure of his aesthetic desire and for the fulfilment of self-expression.

(iv)  Internationalism:

  • He wanted to unite the men without any differences in the world. His humanism is cosmopolitan in nature. It knows no bounds. He recommended amiable relationship among the parts of people through the devices of love, mutual understanding and respect of mankind.
  • He wanted to combine the humanity through the device of cooperation and mutual understanding. This concept has been preserved in Viswa Bharati system of education.
  • Universal brotherhood of mankind is the bed rock of his philosophy of internationalism. His internationalism was spiritual out and out as he said that “all men came from one common source viz. Brahman or God and Brahman manifests in all without any distinction on the basis of caste, creed, class, colour, sect etc.”
  • Therefore, all the humans have a common father, i.e. God. Being a nationalist, Tagore was proud of rich cultural tradition and heritage of his country.
  • His love for his own motherland has been reflected through his patriotic writings. His theories of nationalism were opposite to the theories of aggressive nationalism and draconian imperialism. His nationalism was in agreement with the temper of internationalists.

Conclusion

Tagore believes that, the core aim of education is to enable and prepare an individual for the service of the nation and so education stands for human regeneration, cultural representation, harmony and intellectualism. Educational institutions should be built on the power of thinking and imagination in an individual and helps them to form herself/himself into a self-sustained building block of human society and a creative canvas of nation on the whole.

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