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Swami Vivekananda’s contributions to Education

Posted Date: 31-Aug-2010  Last Updated:   Category: Education    
Author: Member Level: Gold    Points: 20

Amongst the contemporary Indian philosophers of education, Swami Vivekananda is one of those who revolted against the imposition of British system of education in India. He criticised the pattern of education introduced by the British in India. He pointed out that the current system of education only brings about an external change without any reflective inner force.

In the Neo-vedanta humanistic tradition of contemporary Indian thought, Vivekananda presented a philosophy of education for man making. The chief objection raised by Vivekananda against the contemporary educational system was that it turned men into slaves, capable of slavery and nothing else. About the prevailing university education, he remarked that it was not better than an efficient machine for rapidly turning out clerks. It deprived people of their faith and belief. Vivekananda was very critical about this scheme of education. He compared it to the person who wanted to turn his ass into a horse, was advised to thrash the ass in order to achieve this transformation and killed his ass in this process. Vivekananda also criticised the contemporary system of education from the humanistic view point.

According to Smami Vivekananda there are several aims for education. They are as follows:
1. Self-Development
2. Fulfilment of Swadharma
3. Freedom of Growth
4. Character Formation

Self-Development: In contrast to the contemporary system of education, Vivekananda advocated education for self-development. Education according to most of the Western educationalists, aims at man's adjustment with the environment. According to the Indian philosophical tradition true knowledge does not come from outside, it is discovered with the individual, in the self which is the source of all knowledge. According to Vivekananda, the function of education is the uncovering of the knowledge hidden in our mind.

Fulfillment of Swadharma: Vivekananda supported the idea of Swadharma in education. Every one has to grow like himself. No one has to copy others. External pressure only creates destructive reactions leading to stubbornness and disorderliness. In an atmosphere of freedom, love and sympathy alone, the child will develop courage and self-reliance. He should be talked to stand on his own, to be himself. Each child should be given opportunities to develop according to his own inner nature.

Freedom of Growth: Vivekananda is a staunch champion in education. Freedom is the first requirement for self development. The child should be given freedom to grow according to his own nature. The teacher should not exert any type of pressure on the child. The child should be helped in solving his problems himself. The teachers should have an attitude of service and worship. Education ultimately aims at realization. It is a means of a sorority of mankind.

Character Formation: Character is the foundation for self development. The aim of education as self-development, therefore, leads to the aim of education for character. The aim of education is character building. This depends upon the ideals cherished by the individual. The educator should present high ideals before the educands. The best way to develop a character is the personal example of high character set by the teacher. In ancient Indian system of education, the teachers used to present high ideals before the pupils, who in their turn imitated these ideals according to their capacities.

Following things are required for character formation:

Hard work- Character formation, according to Vivekananda, requires hard work. This is not possible by those who have a wish for all types of enjoyment. Struggle is the best teacher in character building.

Moral and Spiritual Values- Besides hard work, character formation requires traits such as purity, thirst for knowledge, preseverence, faith, humanity, submission and veneration, etc. These qualities may be developed by the teacher's example and the pupil's efforts.

Gurukula System- Relationship between the teacher and the taught is possible only in a Gurukula system of education. Therefore, Vivekananda favoured the ancient Indian Gurukula system of education. In these Gurukulas, the pupils served the teacher, who in his turn helped the pupils everywhere to achieve knowledge.

Formation of Good Habits- Character is intimately connected with habits. Habits express character Good habits make for good character.

Learning through mistakes- The child should be allowed to commit mistakes in the process of character formation. He will learn much by his mistakes. Errors are the stepping stones to our progress in character. Strong will, is the sign of great character.

Will makes men great- Vivekananda himself was an ideal teacher. His words worked like magic upon men and women. Vivekananda asked the people to build up their character and manifest their real nature which is the Effulgent, the Resplendent the Ever Pure.

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