India has a very rich history of philosophers, and thinkers who not only propounded theories and refined them further, but also, many of these theories were incorporated in the lifestyle and culture of the Indian population, which also seeped to many parts of the world. Many of these theories, practices, methods and evidence-based models brought forth by these great thinkers, decades and even centuries ago, are today being scientifically verified and corroborated by eminent scientists. India has significantly contributed to the world in the fields of science, mathematics, philosophy, literature, medicine etc. We shared with the world, the concepts of Trigonometry, Zero, Pi, Yoga, Ayurveda, astrology and much more.
From a Humble Beginning to a Thriving Future
There are many recent names who have made major contribution in their respective fields, and it would be a very long list of names if we try to jot them down, but a common trait that follows show that most of these names, though they come from a very humble background, strived to achieve the best through consistent and hard work. The latest being Mr. Abhas Mitra, a theoretical physicist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), who in the year 2000 proved through exact calculations that black holes do not exist in the “real” sense. And, this year Stephen Hawking, a world renowned physicist, came to the same conclusion, while contradicting his earlier finding, through tentative arguments.
India: The World’s Learning Centre
To recapitulate, India’s commitment to learning, seeking, exploring and practising in the field of education was actualized with the establishment of one of the first learning centre or university in the world in Takshila in 700 BC, and the prestigious Nalanda University built in the 4th century BC. There have been several more commitments, since the days of the Rishis and saints towards improving the education system in India. The last major re-alignment towards unifying the education system in India happened during the British Raj, which was aimed to harness the potential of Indians to serve the Raj. After Independence, major chunk of the education system was retained, while the remaining was revamped.
The Evolution of the Indian Education System
India was a major learning centre in the world, and in many academic fields, it still is. Centuries before the Britishers came, or to be more specific, before any major influence from the outside world, Indian scholars, intellectuals and thinkers have dwelt on the philosophy of education. There are several references of teachers from the medieval times, both religious and vocational kinds, whose effective teaching methods have been incorporated, and are the cornerstones in the educational structure of the present times.
Even before India got its independence and later, many Indian scholars and thinkers on education felt that a new education system, suiting the needs of a new and emerging India and its people, is required to bring India back from its lost glory, to the forefront as a leading educational centre in the world. During these endeavors, a great deal of experimentation and thinking went in to search for alternative models of education in India. Unfortunately, these models did not get much recognition and most of their efforts have not been incorporated to the full extent in our present education system. Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and above all, Mahatma Gandhi are some of prominent names which made enormous contributions to elevate the education system of India to its past glory.
Integral Education: The Emergence of a New Education System
Sri Aurobindo, one of the leading Indian philosopher (apart from being an Indian nationalist, freedom fighter, philosopher, yogi, Maharishi, guru and poet), has made several contributions in the field of education, which have been recognized throughout the world. His vision for a new Indian education system was based on a principle that he formulated with The Mother, called the “Integral Education”, which regards a child as a growing soul and proposed that the education system should be such that it helps to bring out all that is best, most powerful, most innate and living in his nature. The aim of Integral Education is to help a child develop all facets of his personality and awaken his latent possibilities so that he acquires
- A strong, supple, healthy, beautiful body
- A sensitive, emotionally refined, energetic personality
- A wide-ranging, lively intelligence and will
- The subtler spiritual qualities that unify and harmonize the being around his inmost Truth or Soul
The theory of Integral Education (IE) lays emphasis on self-development and not just dissemination of information and skills acquisition. Sri Aurobindo believed that the purpose of true education is to sow the seeds of learning, and that it should be triggered from within the child and supported and nourished by teachers and parents. He believed that each and every experience becomes a learning tool for the child as he grows. And that Integral Education provides the tool, which helps a child to integrate with his true self, his surroundings, his society, his country and humanity in other words, to become the complete being, the integrated being that he is meant to be.
Matrikiran is the actualization of the vision that Sri Aurobindo and various other Indian thinker had for the true and ideal education system for India, and the world. Imbued by the principles laid down by the Auro Education Society, Matrikiran strives to create a temple of learning where students can achieve their true potential and be Complete, in the truest of sense.
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Excerpts taken from http://aurosociety.org/focus-area/integral-education.aspx