He also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan,West Bengal where he tried his Upanishadic ideals of education. The tremendous excitement and cultural richness of his extended family permitted young Rabindranath to learn subconsciously at his own pace, giving him a dynamic open model of education, which he later tried to recreate in his school. He found his outside formal schooling to be inferior and boring and, after a brief exposure to several schools, he refused to attend school. The only degrees he ever received were honorary ones bestowed late in life.
As one of the earliest educators to think in terms of the global village, Tagore’s educational model has a unique sensitivity within multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural situations, amidst conditions of economic discrepancy and political imbalance. Tagore’s education marked a novel blending of the ideas of the East and West. The spiritualism of Indian philosophy and progressive outlook of the western people were blended together to give rise to an educational philosophy which marked its distinction. Some of the highlights of his philosophy were – Nature – the Best Teacher: Tagore believed that nature is the best teacher to the pupil. Nature will provide the student with necessary situations to earn knowledge. No pressure should be exerted upon the student to learn any thing. It is nature which will be the guiding force to inculcate the spirit of learning in the mind of a student to pursue the education he likes. It will shape his behaviour and character. * Goodbye to book-centered education: For the first time in the field of education, Tagore established a new mile-stone.
With boldness and firmness, he rejected a book-centered education for students. To him it is not just to confine the mind of boys and girls to text-books only. It would kill the natural instincts of a student as well as his creative skills . * Freedom to learner: Tagore had championed the cause of freedom which he wanted to implement in the field of education. With that objective he opened Shantiniketan, Sri Niketan and Brahmachari Ashram. Accordingly, he gave free choice to students to develop their interest in any field they like.
He explained freedom in three-categorized ways i. e. freedom of heart, freedom of intellect and freedom of will. Education imparted in a natural way will lead to the fulfillment of these three freedoms. * Teaching – practical and real: According to Tagore, teaching should not be artificial and theoretical. As a naturalist, Tagore laid emphasis on the practicality of education thereby increasing the creative skill within a learner. As a result, the student will be a master in his own field but not a slave to mere theoretical knowledge. Place of fine arts (dance, drama, music, poetry etc). : Tagore attached great importance to the fine arts in his educational curriculum. To him, game, dance, music, drama, painting etc. should form a part of educational process.
Students should take active part in these finer aspects of human life for these are very essential to enrich soul. In his words “Speaking is for mankind whereas music is a mystic and expressive medium. That is why; speaking creates nearness between man and man, while music helps us to identify ourselves with nature”. Education for rural reconstruction: Tagore was aware about the rural poverty of our country. So, he wanted to eradicate it through education. The practical training imparted in different crafts and vocation to the students will make them skilled artisans in their field. I feel that many of his ideas on education hold good even today. We can identify many similarities in the new curriculum as the comprehensive continuous evaluation which have been followed in schools under the CBSE.