TOWARDS NEW EDUCATION
New Education to be
rooted in the Culture and Life of the people
New Education to be rooted in the Culture and Life of the People
The curriculum and pedagogic ideas which form the fabric of modern education were imported from Oxford and Cambridge, Edinburgh and London. But they are essentially foreign, and till they are repudiated, there never can be national education. For the moment, we are not going to discuss the problem whether it is possible for India to do without European education ; ( and in this connection let us say that we regard the English as a mere special phenomenon of the European system). It India decides in the light of the need there is of fighting Europe with her own weapons, Industrialism, Capitalism, Militarism, and all the rest, in favor of making counterfeit Europeans of her children, soldiers, inventors of explosives, prostitutors of Science, forgetters of God, she must go forward on her path stern and open-eyed, whatever the disaster. But in that case, she should make up her mind to do without national education, for, national education will not secure those ends, will not make her sons and daughters fit for the fulfillment of those functions. The fact to be realized is that India by the very fact of her long established and elaborated civilization had once the advantage of an educational system of her own, the only thing entitled to be called 'national'. But it was fundamentally distinct from the Anglo-Indian type and from the pseudo-national type that is its descendant. The question then is this: The choice must be clearly and finally made between national and foreign education, the choice of type and archetype, of meaning and purpose, of end and means. It has so far not been made. We are almost certain that the necessity for choosing is hardly realized. As long as confusion on this matter exists, 'national' education cannot flourish. And that for a simple reason. The Government is already imparting one type of education in respect of which it is impossible for any purely non-official body to complete. Official organization is bigger, it has more money, it has more prizes to offer. We believe that this root paradox will last as long as there is no hard and clear thinking about fundamentals. If, as a result of careful decisions, we promise to the people that the education we offer will be truly Indian and not a mere inferior prototype of the education offered in the schools and colleges of Government, people are bound to listen to us. We believe that the folk who suffer from the effects of the existing arrangements, who deplore social disruption, who are stricken by the waste of youth, will be thankful to find an avenue of escape. Institutions that stand for the inevitable revolution for the restoration of national and social continuum will have in their hands the secret of the future.
For that which should be remembered is this. The greatest visible evil of the present educational method, in itself evidence of deeper defects, is, that it has broken up the continuity of our existence. All sound education is meant to fit one generation to take up the burden of the previous and to keep up the life of the community without breach or disaster. The burden of social life is continuous, and if at at any stage one generation gets completely out of touch with the efforts of its predecessors or in anywise gets ashamed of itself or its culture, it is lost. The force that maintains society together is a series of high loyalties, loyalty to faith, calling, parents, family, dharma. The ancient educational system in India certainly maintained the long tradition of pride and service, the place of every order within the body social and body politic. It is equally certain that modern, foreign, non-national education makes young people unfit for any useful function in life. The vast majority of people that sent their children to the English schools were agriculturists, men and women with a deep and abiding faith in God. There is no doubt that the young people when they came back knew not a thing about agriculture, were indeed deeply contemptuous of the calling of their fathers and professed to have outgrown all faith in God or in His fulfilling providence. The fact that the tragedy of this destructive breach was limited by the need of Government for only a specified number of clerks and deputies, should not really mask the reality of the transaction. 'Reforms' have succeeded 'Reforms' in the educational system, Commissions have considered the case of the Universities, primary instruction has been sought to be made compulsory ; but there has never been the remotest perception of the fact that the whole thing is an evil because it was destroying the very foundations of all national life and growth. The system must be scrapped ; enquiry must be made promptly as to what constituted the elements of education before Indian Universities were constituted, before Lord Macaulay wrote his fatal minutes. Promptness is essential, because the race of old teachers is nearly extinct and the secret of their methods may die with them. The resuscitation of those curricula may mean the disappearance of political history and geography; but the prospect does not disturb us in the slightest. We have been trying to get at the elements of the old curricula at least in one part of the country and we dare aver in all conscience that they strike us as infinitely more efficient and satisfactory than the latest thing come out of Europe. But we confess it is a layman's opinion. That is why we should like to have the matter investigated by experts. If it is done and its consequences faced, we are confident that the people of the land will have reason to be highly thankful.
Young India, 20-3-''24
Almost from the commencement, the text-books (today) deal, not with things the boys and the girls have always to deal with in their homes, but things to which they are perfect strangers. It is not through the text-books that a lad learns what is right and what is wrong in the home life. He is never taught to have any pride in his surroundings. The higher he goes, the farther he is removed from his home, so that at the end of his education he becomes estranged from his surroundings. He feels no poetry about the home life. The village scenes are all a sealed book to him. His own civilization is presented to him as imbecile, barbarous, superstitious and useless for all practical purposes. His education is calculated to wean him from his traditional culture. And if the mass of educated youths are not entirely denationalized, it is because the ancient culture is too deeply imbedded in them to be altogether uprooted even by an education adverse to its growth. If I had my way, I would certainly destroy the majority of the present text- books and cause to be written text-books which have a bearing on and correspondence with the home life, so that a boy as he learns may react upon his immediate surroundings.
Young India, 1-9-''21
No Relation to Environment
Unfortunately the system of education has no connection with our surroundings which therefore remain practically untouched by the education received by a microscopic minority of boys and girls of the nation.
With the best motives in the world, the English tutors could not wholly understand the difference between English and Indian requirements. Our climate does not require the buildings which they need. Nor do our children brought up in predominantly rural environment need the type of education the English children brought up in surroundings predominantly urban need.
When our children are admitted to schools, they need, not slate and pencil and books, but simple village tools which they can handle freely and remuneratively. This means a revolution in educational methods. But nothing short of a revolution can put education within reach of every child of school-going age.
It is admitted that so-called knowledge of the three R's that is at present given in Government schools is of little use to the boys and girls in afterlife. Most of it is forgotten inside of one year, if only for want of use. It is not required in their village surroundings.
But if a vocational training in keeping with their surroundings was given to the children, they would not only repay the expenses incurred in the schools but would turn that training to use in afterlife. I can imagine a school entirely self-supporting, if it became, say, a spinning and weaving institution with perhaps & cotton field attached to it.
The scheme I am adumbrating does not exclude literary training. No course of primary instruction would considered complete that did not include reading, writing and arithmetic. Only, reading and writing would come during the last year when really the boy or girl is readiest for learning the alphabet correctly. Handwriting is an art. Every letter must be correctly drawn, as an artist would draw his figures. This can only be done if the boys and girls are first taught elementary drawing. Thus side by side with vocational training which occupy most of the day at school, they would be receiving vocal instruction in elementary history, geography and arithmetic. They would learn manners, have object-lessons in practical sanitation and hygiene, all of which they would take their homes in which they would become silent revolutionists.
Young India, 11-7-1929