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Tagore’s Views on Education
(1861-1941) was essentially a poet but his interests were not confined
His creative fecundity was
inexhaustible and the unlimited variety of his literary output is so
extraordinary that the phrase myriad minded which Matthew Arnold (1822-
88) has used for Shakespeare can appropriately be used for him. His
writings include more than one thousand poems and over two thousand songs
in addition to a large number of short-stories, novels, dramatic works and
essays on the most diverse topics. He took to painting when he was almost
seventy and yet produced within ten years about three thousand pictures
some of them of exceptional quality. He made notable contributions to
religious and educational thought, to politics and social reform, to moral
regeneration and economic reconstruction. His achievements in all these
fields are so great that they mark him out as one of the greatest sons of
India and indeed one who has a message for entire mankind.
Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta at Jorasako house of the Tagore
at 6 Dwarkanath Tagore lane (at present known as Maharashi Bhawan) on
Tuesday 7th May 1861.1
'Rabi' as he was known in his family was the 14th child of his parents. At
the age of twelve he took extensive tours of northern India with his
father. He left St. Xavier College at the age of fourteen. The last
desperate effort for his college education was made in 1878 when he sailed
for England and went to school it Brighton. He studied English literature
with Prof. Morley for sometimes and in 1880 at the age of 19th without
completing any course of study he came back to India.
Rabindranath Tagore got Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 for 'Gitanjali'
the major works of Tagore are:
Poems – The Cresent
Moon (1913) The Gardener (1913) Fruit Gathering (1916) Lover's Gift (1918)
Crossing (1918) The fugitive and other poems (1921)
Plays :- Chitra
(1892), The Post Office (1914), The Cycle of Springs (1917), Sacrifice
(1917), Red Oleanders (1925), Stray Birds.
Fiction :- The Home
and the world (1919), The wreck (1919), Gora (1922)., Hungry stones
(1916), Broken Ties (19251). Chaturanga (1916).
Philosophy - Sadhna
(1913) Personality (1917) Creative Unity (1922), The Religion of Man
The word education has a Latin derivation. Latin dictionary give the
meaning of the word 'educare' as bringing up children physically and
mentally. In common parlance education is regarded as synonymous with
school instruction. But it is not true. Schooling is just one part of the
whole process of education, the aim of which is to prepare the child for
future life so that he acquires the necessary equipment to discharge his
According to Sidney
Hook: "Education is the one that plays a certain integrative role
within its culture and in this sense a good education will formally be the
same in every culture."2
Education is a life long
process and an individual, goes on increasing his store of experience
through contact with the environment, he receives some education in one
form or another.
Education is basically a social process which is concerned with how the
student develops as an individual and in group relations. Its objective is
to prepare the individual for participation in society, and it serves as a
vehicle by which the culture of the group can be transmitted and
perpetuated. Education is preparation for life. Education is experience.
The word education has sometimes been used in a very broad sense to
designate the totally of influences that nature or other men are able to
exercise on our intelligence or on our will.
Tagore's views of education are not available in any single volume. lt is
traceable in his various expressions. It may be gleaned from his addresses
and may be read in his essays. It may also be obtained from his
conversational Viswa – Bharti. Tagore’s ideas on education were derived
mainly from his own experience. Tagore's educational ideals have been
shared by other educationists and many of his innovations have now become
part of general educational practices, but his special contribution lay in
the emphasis on harmony balance and total development of personality.
Discussing the problems of education. Tagore said that a boy should be
allowed to read books of his own choice in addition to the prescribed text
books he must read for his school work. Tagore wrote. “A boy in
this country has very little time at his disposal. He must learn a foreign
language, pass several examinations and qualify himself for a job in the
shortest possible time. So what can he do but cram up a few text books
with breathless speed? His parents and his teachers do not let him waste
precious time by reading a book of entertainment, and they snatch it away
from him the moment they see him with one."3
Another problem is that the men who teaching the primary schools are not
adequately trained for their job, Tagore wrote. "They know neither good
English nor good Bengali and the only work they can do is misteaching"4
Present system of education does not allow us to cultivate the power of
thought and the power of imagination Tagore wrote. "To read without
thinking is like accumulating building materials without building
anything. We instantly climb to the top of our pile and beat it down
incessantly for two years. Until it becomes level and some what becomes
level and some what resembles the flat roof of a house.”5
Our education system is joyless. Small children are burdened with tons of
books. Tagore wrote. "From Childhood to adolescence and again from
adolescence to manhood, we are coolies of the goddess of learning,
carrying loads of words on our folded backs."6
It has no relation to our life, the books we read have no vivid pictures
of our homes and our society. Our first twenty two years are spent in
picking up ideas from English books. But these ideas are of no use because
these do not resemble with our society. Education and life can never
become one in such circumstances and are bound to remain separated by a
barrier. Tagore writes "We being to think that we are learning untruths
and the European Civilization is wholly based on them, that Indian
civilization is wholly based on truth and our education is directing us to
a land of enchanting falsehood. Tagore calls a school in this country is
really a factory. Tagore writes "At half past ten, in the morning the
factory opens with the ringing of a bell, and then as the teachers start
talking, the machines start working. The teachers stop talking at four in
the afternoon when the factory closes and the pupil then go home carrying
with them a few pages of machine made learning”.
Ancestors in India cared little for social formalities and much for social
duties but we do the opposite. They regarded furniture as part of wealth,
but not of civilization.
Economic forces compel the teachers of today to look for pupils, but in
the natural order of thing it is the pupil who should look for the
teacher. The teacher is now a tradesman, a vendor of education in search
There are not enough text books in our own language. Ancient learning has
not been applied for those scientific, historical and rationalistic
methods that we apply to western learning. For education, a foreign
language can not be the right medium. English the knocking at the gate and
the turning of the key take away the best part of our life. The ideas came
late and the tedious grinding over grammar and a system of spelling which
is devoid of all rationale take away our relish for the food when it does
come at last.”
Tagore laid equal emphasis on development of body along with that of
children to take care of their body should be treated as very important.
This is due mainly to the joyless education. Tagore writes in this
concern, "Human beings need food and not air to satisfy their hunger
but they also need air properly to digest their food.”
Freedom is essential to
the mind in the period of growth and it is richly provided by nature.
The crux of Tagore's educational philosophy was
learning from nature and life. Tagore also attached great importance to
Tapasya and Sadhana. In 'Siksa' there is an indirect exposition to
Brahamcharya (a life of abstinence and discipline during student’s life)
as a mean of real education in early year.
Tagore was critical of the way in which education designed to be
job-oriented. Referred to its end of earning bread and butter Tagore
observed, "From the very beginning such education should be imparted to
village folks so that they may know well what mass welfare means and may
become practically efficient in all respects for earning their
The experiment at Sriniketan was undertaken with a limited end in view.
Tagore was a man of wider vision one who had extensively travelled. He
visited various universities of America and Europe in the west and Japan
and China in the East. He went on to establish Visva - Bharti as an
international University where the values of the East and the West could
be combined to develop to truly universe and humanitarian out look based
over faith in man.
Santiniketan, Visva Bharti and Sriniketan may said to consititute Tagore's
educational trinity through which he endeavoured to develop his
The visionary in Rabindranath and the great educationist in him solved the
problem of today as far back as fifty years. The problems of modern
education are attendance, copying or use of other unfair means and
discipline. Tagore solved these problems in a noble way. Freedom in the
class solved the problem of attendance, absence of invigilator solved the
copying or use of unfair means. Thus Tagore's educational system is a
great feat. It is regretted that we did not try to apply the formulas
suggested by Tagore.
WORKS CITED 1. A Centenary volume Genealogy P- 451 by Sahitya
Academy, New Delhi
2. Hook, Sidney – Education for modern man (1946) P- 29.
3. Tagore, R.N. – Towards Universal Man Ed by Prof Humayun Kabir P- 34.
4. Ibid P- 74.
5. Ibid P- 34.
6. Ibid P- 67.
7. Tagore, R.N. – ‘Svadhin Siksa P- 522.
Contributing Writer: Dr. Ram Sharma, Lecturer
Janta Vedic College MEERUT, U.P.