What are the main aims of education according to Rabindranath Tagore?

According to Rabindranath Tagore, the aim of education is self-realization. According to him, this realization by every one is the goal of education. Self-realization, according to Rabindranath, means the realization of the universal soul in one’s self. Man’s aim of life is to achieve this status. It is a process, which cannot be realized without education.

1. Integral Development

Defining the aim of education, Rabindranath says, “The fundamental purpose of education is not merely to enrich ourselves through the fullness of knowledge, but also to establish the bond of love and friendship between man and man.” This is the humanistic aim of education in Tagore’s philosophy. His approach to ultimate reality as integral. He believes in an inner harmony between man and Nature and God.

2. Physical Development

Like Vivekananda, Rabindranath condemned the prevalent system of education, which partially exercised the intellect only to the entire neglect of the body. According to Rabindra Nath, “Education of the body in the real sense, does not exist in ply and exercise but in applying the body systematically to some useful work.”. It is hence that he so much emphasizes games in school education. Pointing out the value of physical activities in the child’s education, he says, “Even if they learn nothing, they would have had ponds, plucking and tearing flowers, perpetrating thousand and one mischief’s on Mother Nature, they would have obtained the nourishment of the body, happiness of mind and the satisfaction of the natural impulses of childhood.” Almost all contemporary Indian philosophers of education, including Gandhi, Vivekananda, Dayananda and Sri Aurobindo, besides Tagore lay emphasis upon the importance of setting educational institutions in natural environment so that the students may learn by their touch with Nature.

3. Mental Development

Besides the physical aim of education, Tagore equally lays emphasis upon the mental aim of education. Like Vivekananda, he is critical of the prevalent system of education, which laid sole emphasis upon bookish learning. To quote Rabindranath, “We know the people of books, not those of the world, the former are interesting to us, but the latter tiresome.” In fact, the intellectual aim of education, according to Rabindranath, is the development of the intellectual faculties which should be developed through education these are – the power of thinking and the power of imagination. Education, which puts too much stress on memory and too little on imagination and thinking.

4. Harmony with Environment

In the end, the aim of education according to Rabindra Nath, is the harmony of the students with the environment. The student should know his environment and create harmony with it. To quote Rabindra Nath, “True education consists in knowing the use of any useful material that has been collected to know its real nature and to build along with life a real shelter for life.” This is particularly true about the rural education Education should imbibe his cultural heritage and should be able to use it in his interaction with the environment.

5. Earning Livelihood

Thus, about the aim of education, Tagore’s approach is realistic. He however, does not favour the utilitarian aim of education. This is his utilitarian aim of education. This is his objection against the imposition of British system of education upon India. He says, “Knowledge has two departments: one pure knowledge, the other utilitarian knowledge. Whatever is worth knowing is knowledge. But Rabindranath does not ignore the earning of livelihood aim of education. He appreciates the practical bias in Western system of education. Therefore, he says, “From the very beginning, such education should be imparted to them (village folks) that they may become practically efficient in all respects for earning their livelihood.” While he is critical of the British system of education which wanted to create clerks out the Indian educated people, he emphasizes that the real aim of education is to develop men and women who may be able to fulfill the needs of the country.

6. Multisided Aim

The above discussion concerning the means of education according to Rabindranath makes it clear that his is a multisided attack on this problem. He is against any one-sided aim of education. He is a humanist. A humanistic aim of education requires a multisided approach.

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