Memorizing facts, learning new subjects and clearing examinations is what is commonly perceived as education. But is this all there is to it? Would you call a Harvard graduate “educated” if he was non-compliant?
In the 1800’s, in India, there lived a man by the name of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa who couldn’t read or write properly and yet the who’s who of the society came to have intellectual discussions with him. Even the man who was given the title of “Vidyasagar” – which means ocean of knowledge – sat before Ramakrishna to listen to what he had to say. All this respect for a person who couldn’t even read and write properly! There are also modern examples of people who did not complete their formal education only to do greater things later on. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mahesh Murthy, Varun Shoor, Rahul Yadav, the list is truly endless. These facts make us ask: What is education in the first place? What is its purpose? Let us explore the thoughts of some great philosophers and thinkers on the topic.
WHAT IS EDUCATION?
Aurobindo Ghosh proposed that education is nothing but bringing out and nurturing the latent potentialities; integrate oneself with self, harmonious living of individual with society, country and humanity to make oneself a complete being.
Swami Vivekananda, too, said something similar: Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man.
Eminent educationist Maria Montessori encourages self-directed learning that promotes self-confidence, independent thought and action, and critical thinking, while fostering social-emotional and intellectual growth. Education for peace is a foundational component of Montessori education at all levels.
Jiddu Krishnamurti in a talk delivered at the Rishi Valley school said “Education is not only learning from books, memorizing some facts, but also learning how to look, how to listen to what the books are saying, whether they are saying something true or false. All that is part of education. Education is not just to pass exams, take a degree and a job, get married and settle down, but also be able to listen the birds, to see the sky, to see the extraordinary beauty of a tree, and the shape of the hills, and to feel with them, to be really directly in touch with them.”
THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATION
Studying these definitions compels us to revise our existing idea of education. The definitions by Aurobindo Ghosh and Swami Vivekananda posit that man has INFINITE POTENTIAL and education is basically the awakening of this potential. The legacy of Maria Montessori is developing greater self-sufficiency and personal independence, and building an internal sense of purpose and motivation.
Krishnamurti’s definition accepts that learning from books, memorizing facts, and clearing examinations is a part of education, not the whole of it. Krishnamurti in his definition seems to say that a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP with the environment is the basis of education. He seems to say that being constantly MINDFUL of things around us is true education.
EDUCATION AT AASRAA
Our purpose of education is to provide opportunity to those who had none; to hone the hidden potential latent in each child so that they are better equipped to handle the struggle that life is. Education must lead to knowledge and productivity; it must lead to right thinking and correct choices.
Through our actions we convey that scoring well on exams is important, but that is not all there is to education. We teach our children about the power of dreaming and visualization. Each day, during assembly, our children close their eyes and dream without fear or inhibition. Self-directed, interactive, do and learn methods imbue confidence, encourage exploration and self-learning. This motivates them to study smarter and harder. Nurturing a healthy relationship with nature is also a core part of our curriculum; we take them out regularly for exposure visits amidst nature, reconnecting them with their roots.
Our skill development center will further equip children, not going in for higher education, with multiple skills leading to financial independence; towards a fulfilling life of dignity.
The holistic education imparted at Aasraa will rear self-assured, responsible, aware, empathetic, future citizens who will work towards nation building.