Rabindranath Tagore’s Philosophy of Education

Rabindranath Tagore’s Philosophy of Education

Rabindranath was a philosopher, poet, dramatist, teacher, essayist and painter of outstanding repute. His philosophy of life was based on the ideals of dedication, patriotism and naturalism. Although he was an ideal philosopher, but the thoughts of naturalism, pragmatism and individualism are also reflected in his philosophy. The values which contributed a lot towards enrichment of his life are discussed as follow:

(1) Idealist: Tagore believes that man should realize the “ultimate truth” which will liberate him from the worldly bondage. Experience according to him is within the world of illusion (Maya). He thoughts the world is the place of both truth and illusion (Maya). In Tagore’s view man is born with enormous surplus force which is excess of his physical need. This surplus is the limitless potentiality of human personality and creativity. In this lies the infinite future of man. The surplus potentiality manifests itself in man’s religious spiritual and moral activities. As an idealist he was an ardent supporter of truth, virtues and values. According to Tagore, “By art man can experience the wholeness of life. The fine arts were nothing but intellectual and spiritual discipline. He said Bhakti can spiritualize Kama.

(2) Humanist: Tagore said nature and man are created by supreme power. There is a strong link between man and nature. So man should act naturally to feel the presence of superpower within him. Love fellowmen in a natural way. Realization of self is the essence to realize the Godhood.

(3) Naturalist: Tagore said nature is the great teacher which is not hostile to man. Nature is kind, generous and benevolent like mother. In his view, “Education diverted from nature has brought untold harm to young children.” Man should develop his relation with the nature as his fellowmen.

(4) Patriotism: Tagore was a great poet and patriot. His writings were filled with patriotic values. He had joined in freedom movement to make the country free from foreign yoke. Sense of national service, patriotic feeling, dedication etc. was fostered through his writings. “Jana Gana Mana Adlii Nayak Jai Hai” is the famous National song which elicited a strong sense of integration.

(5) Internationalist: Rabindranath Tagore was in favour of one world creation of unit amidst cultural, colour and religious diversities are the need of the time for peaceful co-existence in the globe. Forgetting selfishness one we should work to establish world culture based on love, affection fellow feeling and mutual understanding. Cosmopolitan feelings are explicit in his writings and paintings. Tagore’s internationalist thought and attempt for making united world is appreciated all over the world.

(6) Vedantist: Tagore’s philosophy reveals that he was a Vedantist in true sense of terms. He had faith in one Supreme Being that is the Brahma. He finds unity in diversities in the world and a spiritual unity between man and man, man and nature. The relationship between god and man must be like the relationship between love and joy. He believes both the presence of God in all manifestation of matter and spirit.

Aims of Education

The aims of education as reflected in educational institution founded by Rabindranath Tagore in Shantiniketan are as follows:

(1) Self Realization: Spiritualism is the essence of humanism; this concept has been reflected in Tagore’s educational philosophy. Self-realization is an important aim of education. Manifestation of personality depends upon the self-realization and spiritual knowledge of individual.

(2) Intellectual Development: Tagore also greatly emphasized the intellectual development of the child. By intellectual development he means development of imagination, creative free thinking, constant curiosity and alertness of the mind. Child should be free to adopt his own way learning which will lead to all round development.

(3) Physical Development: Tagore’s educational philosophy also aims at the physical development of the child. He gave much importance to sound and healthy physique. There were different kinds of exercises. Yoga, games & sports prescribed in Santiniketan as an integral part of the education system.

(4) Love for humanity: Tagore held that the entire universe is one family. Education can teach people to realize oneness of the globe. Education for international understanding and universal brotherhood is another important aim of his educational philosophy. The feeling of oneness can be developed through the concepts like fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man all creatures are equal on this earth.

(5) Establishment of relationship between man & God: Man bears the diverse qualities and potentialities offered by God. These qualities are inborn and innate. The relationship between man and God is strong and permanent. However the dedication to spiritualism and sacredness will lead to the harmonious relationship with man, nature and God.

(6) Freedom: Freedom is considered as an integral aspect of human development. Education is a man-making process, it explores the innate power exists within the man. It is not an imposition rather a liberal process which provides utmost freedom to the individual for his all-round development. He says, Education has leaning only when it is imparted through the path of freedom”.

(7) Co-relation of Objects: Co-relation exists with God, man and nature. A peaceful world is only possible when correlation between man and nature will be established.

(8) Mother tongue as the medium of Instruction: Language is the true vehicle of self-expression. Man can freely express his thought in his mother-tongue. Tagore has emphasized mother tongue as the medium of instruction for the child’s education.

(9) Moral and Spiritual Development: Tagore emphasized moral and spiritual training in his educational thought. Moral and spiritual education is more important than bookish knowledge for an integral development of human personality. There must be an adequate provision for the development of selfless activities, co-operation and love fellow feeling and sharing among the students in educational institutions.

(10) Social Development: According to Tagore, “Brahma” the supreme soul manifests himself through men and other creatures. Since He is the source of all human-beings and creatures, all are equal. Rabindranath Tagore therefore said, “service to man is service to god”. All should develop social relationship and fellow-feeling from the beginnings of one’s life. Education aims at developing the individual personality as well as social characters which enables him to live as a worthy being.

Curriculum & Subject

Literature and Mother tongue, other Indian Languages and other foreign languages.
Natural sciences such as Botany, Zoology, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, General science, Health education.
Social Sciences like Geography, History, Civics, Economics, and Sociology Arts, Music, Dance etc. Agriculture and Technical Subjects
Philosophy, Psychology and Religion Games and Music, Dramatics, Dancing Gardening, Excursions, Drawing and Painting Sports, Social Service Actual living and Laboratory work Regional Study, Community Service

Method of Teaching

(1) Teaching through Tours and Trips: Tagore believed that the subjects like history, geography, economics and other social sciences can be effectively taught through excursions and tours to important spots. By this students will get an opportunity to observe numerous facts and gain firsthand knowledge through direct experience.

(2) Learning by activities: Rabindranath Tagore said that for the development of child’s body and mind, learning through activity is essential. Therefore he included activities like climbing tree, drama, jumping, plucking fruits, dancing etc. in his educational programmes.

(3) Narration-cum-discussion and debate method: Narration-cum-discussion and debating activities were organized Tagore’s education centre to develop oratory abilities of the students. Students were encouraged to solve problems of various areas through rational debate and thorough discussion.

(4) Heuristic Method Rabindranath Tagore introduced Heuristic method as an important method of teaching in his educational institution. In this method first, the students, are asked questions to clarify their doubts on topics and teachers try to satisfy them by their correct answers. Then the teacher asks the questions to students to evaluate how far the students are able to comprehend the topic discussed in the class.

Medium of Education

The medium of education discourse also became an important point pertaining to Tagore’s idea. The use of English in education prevented assimilation of what was taught and made education confined only to urban areas and the upper classes rather than rural areas. Therefore, if the vast rural masses were to benefit, it was absolutely essential to switch over to the use of Bengali in the context of Bengal at all level of education.

Tagore believed that without knowledge pattern of rural living and an effort by the school to revitalize rural life, academic learning would be incomplete. And this is the reason behind the establishment of his own university, popularly known as Visva Bharati.

He argued that to educate India’s entire population and restoring the flow of culture from the educated classes to the rural population would not come about unless the mother-tongue was adopted as the medium of teaching.

Role of Teacher

Tagore gave an important place to teachers and asked them to carry out the following activities –

  • Believing in purity and in his/her own experiences, innocence of child, the teacher should behave with the pupil with great love, affection and sympathy.
  • Instead of emphasizing on book learning, the teacher should provide conducive environment to the child so that he/she engages himself/herself in useful and constructive activities and learn by his/her own experiences.
  • The teacher should always be busy with motivating the creative capacities of the children do that they remain busy with constructive activities and experiences.

Discipline in Tagore’s view

Tagore was a lover of children and an advocate of free discipline. He wanted to provide the child an opportunity for the discovery of his innate potentialities in liberty. The education of the child should be carried on naturally in natural environment.

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