” The highest education is that which does not merely give us information, but makes our life in harmony with all existence. “- Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore, our divine poet, was the first Indian to win a Noble Prize for literature. Born into the aristocratic and renowned Tagore family of Jorasanko, Rabindranath Tagore grew up in his sprawling ancestral home in an atmosphere of culture, active social life, and surging nationalism. The profound social and cultural involvement of his family would later play a strong role in the formulation of Rabindranath’s educational philosophies. Tagor family, with a rich history of over 300years, has played a significant role in Bengal Renaissance and has yielded several gifted individuals who have contributed substantially to the fields of literature, art, music, business, culinary crafts, classy fashion, religious and social reformation and so on. Tagore himself was a versatile genius who shone like a morning star on the horizon of education in India. His brainchild “Visva Bharati” bears a telling testimony of his high ideals and educational philosophy, which brought a metamorphosis in the domain of education.
TAGORE’S CHILDHOOD EDUCATION :
“Some people get hammered into shape in the book-learning factories, and these are considered in the market to be goods of a superior stamp. It was my fortune to escape almost entirely, the impress of these mills of learning”. – Rabindranath Tagore
This quotation more or less sums up Tagore’s childhood tryst with school and formal education. As a child with a fiercely independent spirit, he found his outside formal schooling to be inferior and boring and after a brief exposure to several schools, he refused to attend school. He regarded schools as mills of rote learning with no freedom for creativity. His father, the renowned Maharshi Devendra Nath Tagore, let him choose to learn whatever he wanted to and the tutors used to come to his home to teach him. He was also taught by his elder brothers. He understood that a formal education might help people become more disciplined but could make them less creative, less imaginative and they might lose their balance and connection with nature. The way he was educated informally was highly irregular even in those days.
TAGORE’S EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHIES :
Tagore was a great champion of education and his educational philosophy was quite unique in itself. The tremendous cultural richness of his extended family, particularly, in his growing up years, permitted him to absorb and learn subconsciously at his own pace, giving him a dynamic open model of education, which he later tried to recreate in his school at Shantiniketan. According to him, the primary objective of education was to enable the preservation of the perfect symphony between one’s life and the world outside. Thus there are four fundamental principles in Tagore’s educational philosophy – Naturalism, Humanism, Internationalism, and Idealism.
Both Shantiniketan and Visva Bharati are based on these very principles. He believed that education should be imparted in natural surroundings and believed in giving children the freedom of expression. Accordingly, the main objective of his school was to cultivate a love for nature, to impart knowledge and wisdom in one’s native language, provide freedom of mind, heart, and will, to proffer a natural ambiance, and to eventually enrich Indian culture. Armed with all these views and philosophies he founded Visva Bharati in 1921 – a university that was truly international in its philosophies, goals, and curriculum. Tagore’s idea on education was that every person is a genius and that all students may not bloom at the same time. So, he allowed students to continue their course till the student and his teacher both are satisfied. Scholars from all over the world come to Visva Bharati, which soon earned a reputation as a great seat of learning.