Draw happiness by learning from the ideals of Rabindranath Tagore
As academic institutions across the country prepare to implement the NEP-2020 recommendation at different levels amid fear of the impending deadly third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading over our psyche, I remember the three cardinal principles of Tagore. education, that is, giving students freedom, agile communication between the elements of the environment and fostering creativity for self-expression.
These centuries-old principles, although laid down in colonial times, still resonate with more enthusiasm and seem much more contemporary. The relevance of Tagore’s ideals today seems that we have not been able to free ourselves completely from the confines of a regimented educational ecosystem.
Last year, when the lockdown protocol began, students were exposed to online home schooling in the hopes that this temporary measure will soon be over and normalcy will be restored. However, it’s been almost a year and a half since students across the country have been sitting at home and learning online. It is a difficult situation to see how young minds must have embraced the virtual world during their formative years, completely disconnected from the physical environment and struggling to overcome the drudgery of these young lives.
In addition, constant supervision by stay-at-home parents who also work from home is an additional challenge for students. Psychologists would agree that even within a family members need space to express themselves among their friends, relatives or any chosen cohort and in the absence of such a fan, the burden of unused communication leads to frustration and sometimes to unfortunate actions.
Tagore envisioned the holistic development of students evolved through humanistic and naturalistic perspectives. An educational institution should represent the state of a nest in a student’s life rather than a cage. It is high time for teachers and parents to dress in the role of a mentor moving away from the old administrator position. He believed that students should enjoy freedom; the freedom to exercise the openness to choose a program or course and learn at your own pace without compromising the fun of learning.
Freedom is not a license to exercise the fiefdom rather turns them into mature and independent. As teachers and parents ourselves we have to admit that not all students in the class or section run the same race, some may choose to stray which should be appreciated and deviated ones should be. supervised by someone when they grow up. Curricula these days at a different level of education in institutions celebrate the inclusion of components of conceptual thinking and creative intelligence in addition to relevant innovation topics that aim to foster expressions among young students. .
In Japanese philosophy, there is a very important concept that speaks of the oneness of self and the environment, recognizing the role of the ecosystem in maintaining learning abilities in students.
A country as large as ours will take its time to realize the potential of the ambitious NEP 2020 intervention plans. As obstacles, many challenges ranging from inadequate technological infrastructure to last mile connectivity, intervention effective teaching to mental health counseling, and weaving through the complex social fabric of the country to evangelize learning ideas at its own pace will block our means of achieving the desired goal.
Despite the best efforts of teachers at different levels, one thing is certain that the lack of happiness in learning, especially during the formative years, will not help to achieve the desired learning outcomes.
A finer point concerning the cognitive development identified by Tagore in young people is that each time a child reads a text, he / she comes to interpret a meaning in its merit which may be different from an adult interpretation, but it does not. he is never empty of creativity and self-expression. Those finer nuances that we generally tend to overlook in our openness to guiding students in the ârightâ direction, so the journey from independent to dependent personality takes its first step.
To explain the context, I would like to appeal to an incident from Santiniketan narrated by the famous literary performer and a student from Pathabhavana late Shri Pramatha Nath Bisi. In the hostels of Pathabhavana, senior students served food to their juniors rather than to staff members, which was a great mechanism for creating camaraderie between senior and junior students and also a way to become responsible.
However, one day a group of students went to Gurudev Rabindranath and complained that as they had to drag the heavy containers full of rice and vegetables across the ground, the base of the containers was corroding. due to the constant friction and they needed a solution. The reluctant poet replied in his calm tone, if they could apply a little common sense and put on a big spool made of used rope and cloth, the friction would have reduced and they had never come to Tagore for a solution.
The promotion of soft skills through art, music, theater, sculpture and dance received considerable attention in his educational ideals which perhaps became the hallmark of his success as an educator. who has effectively been able to internalize our Vedic traditions and at the same time internationalize the concept of happy learning experiences all over the world. Undoubtedly the volume of international students and teachers who have graced the citadel of Tagore learning over the years and welcomed the power of self-realization when one is one with the ‘environment.
Tagore was the agent of happiness and had spread the same through his writings despite personal losses amounting to the loss of his wife and children. Even death could not dissuade his indomitable spirit with which he forged a lasting and happy learning environment in Visva Bharati with a social bond.
To keep the flame of motivation burning, we need positive diversions from everyday life, and perhaps the best way to seek a break in the classroom is to learn from the environment. There is a classic social experiment initiated by Tagore is Dan Sangraha (Donation collection) by the students of Patha Bhavana Under the supervision of a teacher where, students wearing activity attire will accompany their teacher to each nearby home and collect small donations from voluntary donors. The money collected was used to buy stationery items to distribute to schools in neighboring villages.
There are many examples of this type, such as Anandamela a fair organized by the students of the school; the handicrafts sold by the pupils and the profits thus made are used for the development of schools in neighboring villages. People may argue that such fairs and festivals are common in schools and colleges, but how many instances can we see where profit goes to serve a greater cause and if the seed of such a noble purpose is? sown at a tender age, young spirits will develop compassion for coexistence.
As a student of Visva Bharati, Santiniketan I have had the privilege of enjoying the ecosystem of happy learning without pressure or unruly competition. Tagore’s journey in the field of education was divided into three main segments namely, observation, experimentation and implementation and so he could build a global university where East meets West. .
To conclude the whirlwind of thoughts, I would like to leave readers with a few lines from Tagore that essentially capture what exactly we may need to do to restore education for generations to come.
âIn every nation in the world, education is intimately linked to the people. For us, modern education has only trained employees, doctors, lawyers and magistratesâ¦ This education has not touched farmers, potters, artisans. No other educated society has faced this kind of disaster. If we are to have a university, it should, from the start, create the knowledge base of the country’s economy, agriculture, health and all other matters related to the country and the immediate village community, because the university can be the nerve center of the country. This knowledge base should use the most modern methods in agriculture, fishing, weaving and all related tasks.
Speech by Tagore, Santiniketan, Visva Bharati, 1963
The author is associate professor and head of the business management department, Tripura University