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Erica Bowen K. Autism and the Brain Neurophenomenological Interpretation. Tatyana B. It aims at an integral growth of all the different parts of the being and personality and hence, the assessment must also be multi-dimensional. Thus, there is no provision in our system for the assignment of classes, divisions or grades, nor is there any question of a common syllabus for all the students studying a subject with different teachers or even with the same teacher.

We want to produce a new type of student who loves to study, without any other motivation than self-perfection through knowledge. If you undertake the above online courses with us, you could get from H. Wide open, green spaces lined with eucalyptus trees surround the school which has swings, slides, neem groves — which at various junctures provide space for learning activities for different groups. Classes: There are no graded classrooms in Mirambika. Children are grouped according to their age and each group has a name given to it.

For the younger children the groups have names of colours which are chosen by the teachers namely - the youngest group is called the Red group and has children from 3 to 4 years of age. There is an overlap of ages in all the groups. In the older groups names of the groups change and the teachers and the students decide the name of their group at the beginning of the year. Uniform: The school does not have any prescribed uniform. Children are asked to wear simple clothes that do not obstruct movement. Teachers are not salaried staff but are paid a token stipend which varies for full time and trainee teachers.

The teachers are chosen on the basis of their interest in working with children, affection and motivation to do their job. According to a school official, Mirambika has had from the very beginning teachers from rural as well as from urban backgrounds. Teachers in Mirambika are : full time teachers i. Ed, practice teaching and volunteers who are part-time teachers. The volunteers are mainly subject specialists who take up some specific activity like aero-modelling and are from various institutions like I.

They are only paid conveyance allowance. The trainee teachers are those doing B. Mirambika has a Teacher Training Wing on its premises which conducts ongoing training for its teachers-in-service as well as pre-service. The training programme focuses on the school ideology and philosophy, principles of learning which form the basis of teaching-learning in school. Day Structure: A school day in Mirambika starts at 8. The children dressed in colourful clothes start their day by having breakfast together i.

Mornings begin with sports in which both students and teachers enjoy themselves in the field. Thereafter students and teachers together clean their rooms. This is followed by playing of music for meditation. During this the students along with their teachers sit quietly and silently with their respective groups. During this time they work in small groups on specific projects which integrate different subjects and activities like viewing films, drama, model making, experimenting, art, craft, music etc.

The students choose an activity of their liking while working on a project. They are served vegetarian food prepared in the Ashram kitchen. The children are free to choose and participate in an activity of their interest. The day schedule is not rigid and is subject to change depending on the nature of activity being undertaken by the children. Curriculum: Mirambika has a multi-level learning system, i. The school follows the project approach to teaching and has no fixed curricula or syllabus.

However for each group, goals in terms of qualities, mental faculties and skills to be developed during the course of one year are decided and delineated into quarterly targets. During the actual course of project work, children do a lot of activities related to the project chosen by a particular group. Children collect information, experiment, have group discussions, quiz competitions, put up exhibitions and have debates on the topics.

Sometimes field trips are also arranged. The groups are monitored to provide for formal learning in informal settings. In the afternoons the children are taught specific subject areas, e. English, Hindi and Mathematics. Subject specialists teach in small groups or individually depending on the need of the child, keeping in view the minimum learning required for a particular age group. Evaluations: No tests or exams are conducted at any stage in any group class in Mirambika. The teacher decides the goals to be achieved during a specific time. In accordance with the group goals, activities are planned by the teachers in advance.

In normal course, the teacher plans for the week. Evaluation is done to know how much the child has covered and what more is needed. This is followed up by concrete action plan for the child by parents and teachers. In higher groups children undergo self-evaluation, peer evaluation on completion of a topic or activity for which proformas and schedules are prepared by the teachers.

Mirambika teacher education programme is dynamic and flexible. It is an ongoing participative process and much of its curricular details are worked out by students and teachers together as the programme proceeds.


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With Integral Education at its core, certain broad areas are essentially covered as part of development of human values. The programme is further integrated at each step with practical work in Mirambika. Continuity between theory and practice and a constant endeavour to improve and learn is the spirit of the teachers training programme Basu, The course is offered to any individual who has an inner aspiration, shows initiative and is enthusiastic, receptive, sincere and hardworking.

The trainees come from all parts of the country and from different socio-economic backgrounds. Mirambika teacher education offers courses at two levels; Pre-primary and Elementary. The pre-primary level student teachers learn through first hand experience, i. They spend half the time working with the children initially under supervision, learning by observing and interacting with the children and through feedback.

The elementary level student teachers are gradually inducted in the teaching learning process once they cover the various aspects of Integral Education starting with physical education. Their practical learning and experience in the classroom starts after a period of one year. Both the levels follow experimenting with learning, developing new strategies in teaching and have freedom to explore under guidance Basu, It is the divine consciousness-force or the cit-sakti which reveals itself in the march of time through different evolutionary forms which correlate to the emerging levels of the consciousness.

His ideals of education too fall in line with his concept of evolution. He did of course plan to take up seriously and to formulate a system of national education during the period when great minds in Bengal were trying to institute an alternative educational system for India. Even in the first decade of the last century, Sri Aurobindo was clear in distinguishing universal education and national education.

It is a distinction that is applicable more so in the first decade of the present century when the cultural differences seem to be vanishing fast and there is the danger of the emergence of a monotonous and drab western style of living and thinking. That is an old and effete superstition of the reason which it is time now to renounce. For within the universal mind and soul of humanity is the mind and soul of the individual with its infinite variation, its commonness and its uniqueness, and between them there stands an intermediate power, the mind of a nation, the soul of a people.

And of all these three education must take account if it is to be, not a machine made fabric, but a true building or a living evocation of the powers of the mind and spirit of the human being. The three distinctive and fundamental theories that have to be taken into account in any living education are, according to Sri Aurobindo : a the man, the individual in his commonness and in his uniqueness, b the nation or the people, and c universal humanity. What is important to note in the analysis of the social and human evolution of man, as seen in the above mentioned books, is that there is an ever-growing movement towards a greater unity.

It is the very goal of nature to bring about an ultimate unification of humanity, feels Sri Aurobindo. The first unit in the evolution of the human social body was the family— it is the unbreakable atomic unit of nature. In the passage of time, there came up around the family a clan or a tribe : these too later enlarged into the living organism of a village.

Even this was surpassed and there were formed city-states,princedoms and kingdoms— all of which ultimately got merged in the nation unit. Till the emergence of the nation unit, the focus on all the levels was the individual man. All institutions— princedoms, kingdoms, etc. Education was more in the form of apprenticeship, the gurukula type where the individual was the centre of learning. All education was tailored to his need depending upon his social status and the social role that he was to fulfil in the community at large.

Of course, the central value that was focused upon was the spiritual building of character, which was also the central aim of education. Purani, p. Spiritual life centred on the Vedas was the aim. Of course, there was also cultural training, but it was not the main thing.

In Greece it was intellectual and aesthetic. The Greeks tried to give intellectual training but not through giving information and teaching different subjects. They rather allowed the intellect to grow freely and there was an atmosphere in which capacities and activities could grow. Most of the great educationists of the past century had tried to contribute to this mid-stage of the evolution of education that would be suitable to the growth and development of India as a nation.

Be it Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, with his pioneering efforts through Banyatrana Samiti—which trained students in the spirit of social service, or Satis Chandra Mukherjee who triggered off the effort in self-reliance and self-rule in the field of national education, or M. Gandhi with his Nai Talim or Education for life emphasizing on self-education through productive works or vocation,or RabindranathTagore in his establishment of Santiniketan—all of them concentrated on building up a strong, moral and self confident nation based on the principles of non-violence and self-reliance.

For some decades our education on the national level was influenced by these ideals and they were also tried out in the institutions that were started by some of these stalwart thinkers. And most of them succeeded very well in implementing the ideas and the ideals, as was seen for example at Santiniketan. Each institution gave birth to great thinkers and leaders who influenced the Indian social texture and further strengthened Indian culture and the nation.

Outside of these institutions, most of which are now defunct, there grew up a completely different system of national education which has resulted in the present state of education in our country—an all-round picture of gloom and despondency. Still there is a silver lining. Many schools are trying to bring in new methodologies, new systems based on new philosophies of education.

Most of these are imported and people are trying to implant them on the Indian soil. These new philosophies of education have realized, in common, that the child must develop an integral personality, that the process of learning must be through play-way method, the teachers must be more guides and helpers, etc. There are a handful of such pioneering schools, which are trying to bring in a new revolution in education.

Apparently, they are gaining marginal success and are able to attract the educated parents. But, there is an inherent flaw in these newly transplanted philosophies. They lack the ideal, the direction, the aim. These schools and their authorities may argue that they indeed have a great aim and objective. What is it? We may ask. What they want to bring forth is highly successful social beings or shall we say, commodities. They enter the social machinery where they get rubbed, polished and then, branded.

Finally, they are in demand depending upon the needs of the society. The successful ones attract the best price in the commercial market as well as the marriage -market! In the second place, consequent upon what has been stated above, no recognition is being given to the existence of things like human personality, his individuality. All, without exception, have been led through the same system; all are being hammered and cast in the same mould.

The individual is lost in the collectivity. The country, the nation must develop as a whole. We need, therefore, philosophers, scientists, ethicists and warriors. The collectivity or the society puts out its list of demands which vary depending on the developmental stage of the society. After independence, as India launched into a phase of industrial development, its demand was for engineers and doctors.

And all able and capable minds were sucked into those professions. As the demand increased, seats for medicine and engineering were auctioned for a high price. The rich licked them up irrespective of their innate capability for the jobs. Then, as India launched into the technological age, the society demanded computer brains overnight. Computer Training Centres spread in India like virus. This also entered into the schools, starting courses in computers.

They disrupted the cosy, slow educational pace of the school. Everyone, all the managements, parents, teachers and students caught the vibration of tension and anxiety. A new competition broke in. The already soulless educational systems became more soulless; students battled in becoming computer-wizards and ended up in becoming automated morons! What has come of these attitudes and efforts? A tremendous upsurge of materialistic values! Life is money and money is life, it is said. All success is evaluated in terms of money. More success means more money, and more money means more comforts, material comforts.

Do we have time to think about the direction? Or, like rats in a tunnel, keep running, stampeding over our brethren,even killing all nature for our hunger and desires. We have become so very used to our materialistic values, that if we are asked to change tracks we feel uncomfortable and even become suspicious of our well-wishers. If someone were to speak to the adolescent students of the metropolitan cities of India about a different dimension of existence, they would disbelieve the spiritual masters and look at them askance!

This is partly because in India a spiritual life was meant to be an ascetic or religious life—a life that is cut off from fun , from the mesmerising pleasures of life! And, in the modern times, when life seems to be offering a plethora of pleasures and possibilities of material advancement, if a student is asked to think of spiritual life he even reacts in fear! This is the damage done by the old religious attitude.

Maybe, it is in order to evade such a religious attitude, which threatens to divorce them from their love of life that the students are subconsciously embracing the materialistic values. But, materialistic life without the support of the spirit is a false life; it is suicidal. The living truth behind the contemporary trends of education lies in the deeper evolutionary vision behind the march of mankind. The present stress on a collective demand on the individual is in fact the mid-stage of the social evolutionary pattern.

The present pattern of collective education is the child of the Industrial Revolution when reason came into prominence overruling other faculties in man. The present trend of a mass-production of doctors, computer engineers, etc. They lack individuality, character or personality. So are the students who form part of this mass production system—only items or articles in the job market! Perhaps we cannot escape the Time-Spirit of collective evolution. But, their success is in peril if they do not look to the demands of the future. It is the mainstream of the collective consciousness, the demand of the time where materialism, like an oceanic wave, is engulfing thousands of young minds cutting across divisions of religion, caste, creed, nationality and even race.

If humanity has to move towards a future harmony, a world unity, the rigid barriers of nationality, race and religion have to be dismantled. If we analyse the evolutionary progression of mankind, we see that it is gradually moving towards a greater unity. Starting from a family, a village, a clan, a city-state, a nation, mankind is moving towards the largest of its aggregates—human unity. So, from the individual we have moved on to the collectivity and from the collectivity of the nation and its development we are now moving towards a unified humanity at large.

Spiritual visionaries like Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo foresaw the coming of the universal humanity or human unity, the stage of evolution that is the finale of human evolution. So, they sowed the seeds of a future education that would help in ushering in the third level of human evolution: unity of mankind. Though Swami Vivekananda seems to have stressed the six pillars of education, i. He envisages the coming of a subjective age after the present age of Individualism. Some countries have stepped into Subjectivism where the emphasis is in the discovery of the true inner self, the soul.

However, luckily for us, the Divine Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram has given us a systematized five-fold education which reflects completely the essential principles of true education that Sri Aurobindo had developed in his incomplete work, A System of National Education , as well as in his writings on A Preface to National Education A comprehensive programme has to be chalked out that has the five principal aspects corresponding to the five principal activities of man: the physical, the vital, the mental, the psychic and the spiritual.

This programme must start on the level of school education and it must continue into the university campus and further into life.

sri aurobindo on education

A body that is healthy and strong, plastic and agile, graceful and beautiful must be the ideal of physical education. One must develop all these not for the sake of attracting the opposite sex or for winning laurels and praises from others but for the love of beauty itself. The basis of physical life is beauty and it must be sought in each gesture and in each act.

If physical education is consciously cultivated, the sense organs could become more precise and more powerful in their functioning.

Mind, Overmind, Supermind: Evolution of mental consciousness in Sri Aurobindo's Savitri

It may even be possible to discover latent senses in man, which are not yet brought into everyday use. Mental education is perhaps the most sought after in all the institutions of education. Keeping these as the ultimate benefits, a new system of education could be developed accordingly. In such a concept the necessity of the lecture system, the syllabus system and the examination system could be eliminated and that is the first thing that needs to be done if a new thinking has to come in education. What could be an alternative for a lecture system? The alternative is the process of self-learning and group-learning assisted and guided by the wise counsel of teachers.

We do already see the important role of the computers in self-learning. Students could switch on their computers and using the necessary software learn the things that he or she wants to learn and not has to learn. The external pressures of time, time-tables and meaningless necessities of forms and formats must be replaced by an inspiring atmosphere and the noble and moulding influence of the society, parents and teachers. At the same time, the need of group-learning should be fulfilled through the means of group-work, which should be done in the direct field of activity, such as the medical students who learn in the hospital premises itself.

This way there would be a synthesis of studies and work experience—a happy and balanced combination for an integral development of personality. The role of the teachers in this new process of learning would not be eliminated but widened and deepened. A system of evolutionary syllabi must be adapted which would continuously change and grow in accordance with the necessities and needs of the students and the times and the cultural milieu.

It should also be basically a multi-entry system. That is to say, a student must be able to take up courses in any subject of his interest and at whatever level irrespective of his basic degrees or his age. The most meaningless and frustrating activity of the present educational system is the method of evaluation of a student and the pattern of examination. This unhealthy system of competition does not end with the obtaining of the degrees, but it continues into life giving rise to the social evils of nepotism, corruption and violence.

On the one hand, we aim at countering the social evils by teaching ethics and religion, but on the other hand, we inject into the very same society the poison of competition. We want to spot the strong and the brilliant who alone have the right to guide and control the future society. But this theory of the survival of the fittest belongs to the backlog of social history, for, it is not true at the evolutionary stage of man at present. Evolution advances not necessarily through the fittest but through those that are most adaptive and supple.

Tests could be interwoven into the process of learning but examinations and earning credits will not be the aim of the new educational system. Examinations are the bane of the present education and they must be abolished and given no place in the blue-prints of future education. Credit earning may fit perfectly in the contemporary ideals of commercialism but, it does not serve in any way a true man-making programme of education.

Degrees too, though of high value at present, have to be gradually scrapped, for, in many countries, they have lost their importance, they guarantee neither employability nor respectability. One way out of this examination and degrees dilemma is to shift the career training of students from the campus to institutions where experts are involved in those careers. These institutions could include apprentice programmes and themselves become centres of learning and work. This may sound like going back to the ancient system of apprenticeship but it is needless to emphasize that any divided and fragmented education is bound to be lop-sided and ultimately harmful to the growth of the full personality of man.

The environment in such apprenticeship centres is more realistic and similar to the life-situation. There the student will not feel the division between university and life and there would be a life-long education. Secondly, even the motivation of the teacher and the student would be realistic and more intense because of their involvement in a life-situation and not one that is artificially created in a university classroom.

The wall of the university must be demolished so that there could be osmosis between the university and life at large. Universities would become then centres of academic research— a laboratory of knowledge. Education, unburdened of syllabus, examinations, age-restrictions, credentials and credits, time and cost pressures, could concentrate on man-making education. Students will participate, as it were, in a collective venture not only in their own society or country, but of the whole earth. Education will not only be a continuous process but a collective process as well.

This consciousness, called the psychic being is like a light that shines in the centre of every human being. With the psychic education, we begin to deal with the deeper motives of life. What is the purpose of life on earth? What is my inner being? How to discover it so that it may govern and organize my life? The Indian systems have chartered the process of realizing the deeper self, the atman or the soul, and it could be practised by any seeker anywhere in the world. Psychic education reflects itself in the new principles of education as truth, harmony and liberty.

A Journal of Integral studies - August

Freedom of thought and action and expression are essential, for freedom is the very stuff of our psychological nature. Our faculties can flower only in freedom. But, most often, freedom is abused and institutions of education have therefore clamped upon the students many rules of discipline. Indeed, discipline is a fundamental part of self-education of any group activity. But, a strong and persistent stress on discipline is not the necessary antidote against freedom being turned into license.

It must be acknowledged that along with the ideal of freedom and liberty, we must emphasize the quest for truth and the pursuit of harmony. Where these three principles are pursued, there the atmosphere is aright for a deeper search of our inner being. All the forms of educational systems that have existed till the present have served, though in different ways, the evolution of mankind till the present stage of collectivity. But, if education has to play a role in the future evolution of humanity, and play it must, the avant-garde education philosophies have to take into account this new dimension: the psychic and the spiritual dimension.

Human unity may be mechanically brought about by political exigencies and by technological genius, but such a unity can never last for lack of a central cementing factor. The true binding factor is the psychological sense of brotherhood, the sense of fraternity, which can come out only by psychic and spiritual education.

So, in fact, those schools which want to survive into the future and be useful to the future generations of humanity have to look seriously into this new dimension of education and find out means of imparting it to the young minds. The very first thing that the future educationists could do is to spread this ideal of a spiritual education in the prospectus of their schools and help in fixing it in the consciousness of the parents and the teachers.

This idea should be replaced by the positive idea that life is an evolving reality, and that it is at present a field of battle through which the eternal perfection shapes us in its own image. The ultimate aim of life is to be completely transformed so as to become a fully developed and effective means for the manifestation of perfection, and to be a field of progressive harmony and unity.

In the present system it is sorely neglected. It can be done by promoting powers of observation, memory, reasoning, etc. Through these the man within must be touched and brought out. The second thing that acts is the personality of the teacher. Whatever Montessori may say, the teacher is there and his influence is there and it does, and must act. The teacher may not directly guide or instruct but the influence keeps the children engaged.

Children are quite open to such an influence. The third thing is to place a man in the right place in the world. The teacher is not an instructor or task-master; he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not impart knowledge to him; he shows him how to acquire knowledge for himself.

He does not call forth the knowledge that is within; he only shows him where it lies and how it can be habituated to rise to the surface. The second principle is that the mind has to be consulted in its own growth. The idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parent or teacher is a barbarous and ignorant superstition. It is he himself who must be induced to expand in accordance with his own nature. There can be no greater error than for the parent to arrange beforehand that his son shall develop particular qualities, capacities, ideas, virtues, or be prepared for a prearranged career.

To force the nature to abandon its own dharma is to do it permanent harm, mutilate its growth and deface its perfection The third principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be. They mould him not the less powerfully because insensibly, and from that then we must begin. We must not take up the nature by the roots from the earth in which it must grow or surround the mind with images and ideas of a life which is alien to that in which it must physically move.

If anything has to be brought in from outside, it must be offered, not forced on the mind He should regard himself as an aid and should aim at awakening rather than teaching. Example is more important than instruction, and influence is more important than example. Influence is not the outward authority of the teacher, but the power of his contact, of his presence, of the nearness of his soul to the soul of another, infusing into it, even though in silence, that which he himself is and possesses.

By spiritual education what we mean, in general, is not the moral or religious education—a smattering of which forms part of the present timetable of any school. What we mean is that all life is a growth of consciousness towards a higher and Supreme Consciousness.

Materialism with its scientific and technological developments and the present complex life of man could be embraced by spirituality and our life could gain a positive meaning and direction—that of manifesting the Divine on earth! In fact, that is the purpose of evolution—evolution of man and earth—to reveal progressively the hidden Divinity and to bring upon earth a life-divine.

It is not something impossible or remote—this dimension of a life divine is already there in man. Each one of us can start on this adventure right now, it does not matter to what religion or caste or nationality we belong. It is enough if we can ignite the spark within us—the spark of aspiration for a higher life.

And the beginning of this individual yoga is nothing but a psychic realisation. Students, young and old could be asked to practice a few simple things daily, as advised by the Mother. First of all, one must remember that a higher presence is the guardian and creator of this universe. In the daily routine of actions, one must remember that presence and to call for its help. Before eating to remember, to concentrate a few seconds and pray that the food may give the substance and energy necessary for the strength and health of the body. To speak only when necessary and not to speak of people disparagingly.

To take pleasure in all one does and not do things for pleasure, etc. All such small activities must be increased as they grow up. Whatever external activity they may take, depending on their aptitude, circumstance, swabhava, they must try to manifest something of the divine will. But, it need not be so. The inner self could be practised and realised even while leading a full life in society and on earth, emphasised the Mother. Our faculties of expression, of manifestation, of thinking, of art, etc. Circumstances of life are almost re-oriented to help us in our march towards the inner discovery.

One should not think of starting on this adventure after annihilation into the supreme Reality. A total transformation of man is the only way out. A self-exceeding of man into a new species that will be to man what man is to the animal is the true solution. Such a total transformation of man—his body, his life and his mind—will usher in a divine life upon earth, a Life Divine that is the ultimate destiny of earthly life.

Education is missing something, that I know and have felt very deeply for a very long time. What is missing? Is this an issue with a societal answer, not an individual answer? Is it easier and less muddy if education is compartmentalized? Is it fear of the unknown that makes education rote memory versus understanding and knowing?

BM: Yes Nan, you do bring up some fundamental questions. But these are fundamental to our learning of Integral Education. At least that is how I understand them. And you are right again, we want to keep things simple, we want to keep things under control, so we design systems education as one of them to help us do that. Media, govt. And in this search the hope lies, the future rests. No easy quick fixes there.

AR: The education system that is being described and decried by all of us is also the same system from which we have all come. Is it because the Mother and Sri Aurobindo have described the missing element or is there also some other factor that has helped us to realize the missing element? What could that be? Can all of us give it a thought? NS: Do we need to foster the attitude or belief that education is and can be or must be life long and not something that ends with the diploma? We need to take ownership for the Divine within all of us and respect and nurture the Divine in all living beings and things?

Judgement is not ours? If these are the questions which are so easy to ask and suggest, how do we implement this in the education system? And every field of action, including the education is filled with dual forces that work in nature — positive and negative, light and shadow. Educators, like other human beings, are capable of making the right and good decisions when they move beyond limited self-interest. And like other human beings, they too are capable of becoming a captive to their own greed and selfish interests.

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I think this is a great point and again something else to reflect on! I was a product of some of this thinking as a young student. Civics was a course that was eventually phased out to some degree as well as art, music and gym. In this day and age, school is focused on getting good grades at any cost. It is very disheartening.

Now it is very competitive and grades are the bottom line — a reward for trying hard and memorizing the correct information. Education is not integrated as a life style of lifelong learning. Can you think over the possible changes that need to be brought about for this ideal to become a truth of life: all life is a self- education. SC: You will find in both public and parochial schools, at every level, the students are isolated from the living process of human development in themselves and society. Neither institution has grown because they are distracted by the ignorant confusion of their function for the individual and to society.

In my opinion both are institutions for subjugation, not education. If we consider the possibility that education is being used as tool for subjugating the human potential for compliance to an external operation of power, then the Indian concept of being human as a principle for education is a revolutionary concept! BM: This was very helpful. From my experience also as a student in and observer of Indian schools and colleges, I feel this conception of human being is generally ignored. The pressure is to get good grades so as to get into good colleges, get good degrees which can then get you good jobs.

Education is generally seen as a means to upward social and economic mobility. The basis and guiding principle of dominant model of education in India in that sense is not different from what you describe here. Yes there is a huge private school system there which generally follows the public education model as far as curriculum is concerned and adds a few extra things — some of which may be good.

For example, the school I attended till high school and the schools where I also taught were part of an educational trust that was first started as a resistance to the British system of convent schools and as a result did try — at least in theory — to blend the modern system with some Indian values by incorporating an awareness of Vedic thought.

But in practice those values were imparted as a somewhat meaningless add-on in snippets — in one half-hour period once a week and not seamlessly integrated into the guiding philosophy of the school. But to be honest, nobody really thought that was making any difference. Students and teachers did all that as a monotonous ritual without understanding its deep significance or meaning. In most private schools in India even this much is not there. Besides the Pondicherry school and other Integral Education inspired schools in India, I have heard and read about some other schools in various parts of India that are in fact doing creative things and some of them are based on holistic ideas of education e.

Rishi Valley School is inspired by J. Of course, in all these schools philosophy and practice may not always match but then ideals are meant to provide inspiration and constantly lived and practiced despite all the stumbling and imperfection on the way. But my feeling is that the pressure to conform to a set of standards aims of education - to prepare students for good career choices, to make them productive members of society, and to make them good citizens — prevent most of these private schools to really try and become something more.

They are constrained by the national curriculum standards and demands as well, but first and foremost by the general societal expectation of what education is supposed to do, which in turn determines these national curriculum standards and guidelines. As long as education is seen by the majority in society as only as a means to a good job and a comfortable life not that these goals are bad as such , and not as the means to bring forth to educe the best in human being and to discover our real and full human potential, all such attempts at starting schools on these higher ideals of education must remain a small part of the entire education scene in a society.

Then perhaps this also makes sense, any high ideals first capture the mental, emotional, spiritual imagination of only a small number. And with every little attempt at individual transformation, we are getting closer to making a divine life on earth. At the same time, I feel that even though the majority of schools in India are based on similar understandings of education like schools elsewhere, the external environment of living spirituality does help in giving most young minds at least an elementary awareness that human life is more than the mere materialist understanding.

But this does create a sense of chasm between schooling and living, which conveys the message that education is not about good living, but only a means to make a good living. Schools as secular organizations are supposed to not have anything to do with matters of the spirit. Education has become concerned with matters of material life only and matters of spirit have been relegated to organized religion. AR: How do you think India has tackled with this problem? Or has it not solved it at all? BM: I think independent post India tackled it or shall I say not tackled it at all by simply following the Western particularly British model of education that was imposed on it.

This means that the schools have remained the domain where education ends up being a means to learn and develop certain skill sets and gather knowledge of certain content areas that will help children secure their economic and social futures. So subject matter is presented and learnt in snippets using variety of methods including lecturing, discussion, comprehension, analysis, test-taking, essay-writing, oral examination, and other standard practices.

While the Indian variety of secularism is somewhat different from the stricter western understanding of secularism, the schools have for the most part remained a very secular domain, as far as the educational experience of the student is concerned. Then there are alternative private-run efforts quite small in comparison to the dominant private and public systems which are trying to integrate spirituality in their educational offerings.

There is still a question whether Indian state is ready to really accept the widest possible definition of spirituality — which is integral in its approach and outlook. At the same time, as I mentioned in another post on living spirituality , as per my current knowledge even in most govt. I was born here in the USA. With this spirit came the creation of great innovations and a focus on individual freedom so intense that anyone or anything that stood before them on their blazing path was either destroyed, or absorbed.

Many came to America importing the history of their European civilizations, yet on many levels they were willing to leave behind any part of that history which might weigh them down in their pursuit for individual happiness.

There is such a rich variation of histories in America and it is no wonder our national identity is rooted in the individual ego. What is the Dharma of America? Is it the law of change? I am not an immigrant; my heritage has been here in America since the Civil War. Yet, there is a part of my ego which identifies with the experiences of immigrating to a new land although I have never experienced this.

As a nation, I think America is very much like a child. What is needed for our national soul is our Mother. AR: The above discussion regarding the nation soul of America is very significant. It is deep in its quest and honest in its approach. It is very difficult to find out the nation-soul of America for it may be that it is too much in its infancy to get a personality of its own, as you said, it is in its transition from an unconscious creator to conscious worker. And this distinction makes enormous difference.

Education can not be compartmentalized, it must encompass all of the people. Education, in other words, can not always be one size fits all. It makes me think of my Masters Degree program, I am not in a one size fits all, I am creating what will challenge the mind and feed my soul. SC: I find it curious that children are rarely considered in discussions about the formulation and implementation of ideas.

We speak of philosophy, history, arts, etc. Yet, before the man or woman can participate in building the structures of external life, he or she was a child. A child developing in an artificial environment, without the unity and harmony of Nature, will collapse and give way to the burdens laid on him in a system of civilization divided from its divine origin.

His growth is stunted, his vision blinded by the instinct of mere survival in an artificial world. He will become a man, but what kind of man will he be? What kind of structures will he build with the tools he has been given? Endowed with unlimited potential and possibilities, the child has either been ignored or preyed upon by the most hostile ignorance of our time. If so what had the society to gain from this move of deliberate neglect? The greater seeing mind, the intuitive soul of knowledge is present and upfront in the nature of a child.

It is fully true, but is the child aware of it? Or is the adult educationist aware of this in his students? That is the problem in front of us? Do we find an answer to these questions in the Integral Education? SC: A child perfecting his or her willing instruments is dependant upon the environment. Provisions must be made for their free growth under the governance of their soul.

It is within the free growth of the child, and our observations of that growth, that the destiny of mankind in the evolution can be consciously revealed. How much can it be free? This I relate back to the current state of the United States K education. Physical education, art and music along with recess are being taken out of the curriculum, so students can have more seats and face time with the giver of knowledge teacher. Physical education, art and music as well as recess are arenas for students to apply and integrate knowledge via experience and being in the moment.

Currently, in my opinion US education is only addressing the mind and at a very superficial level. They are dropping the ball on body and spiritual education is taboo! BM: How do I begin to pick selected passages from the material I have been reading? Everything rings so true and deep, so meaningful and soul-touching that I end up underlining almost all the book!

I will start with the three principles of true education that Sri Aurobindo outlines — 1. One of most essential benefits an educator can gain from a reflection on the first principle is a gift of humility. As an educator in the higher education system in the US, I see intellectual arrogance as one of the distinct characteristics of professoriate in academy. Experts in what? Experts who study and learn of the outer knowledge about things. Experts speak from a position of their expertise; mentors offer suggestions for students to explore and come to their own decision.

If nothing can be taught, it only means that all can be learned. So teachers and students learn together as they work together — they just may have different roles but they are both seekers in their own unique ways. I guess we can all think of people we know who could have been good singers, painters, musicians, actors, writers etc.

Perhaps in the larger divine scheme of things these truths carry their own meaning and purpose. So do my economics degrees! How do we go from near to far?

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That is the only way we go anywhere. With one little step, with the first step. We may keep our eyes on the distant goal, but we always start from what is nearest to us. A tree is hidden in the soul of a seed, but it begins its life from the first little sapling that reveals itself from within the seed. Then why do we forget this simplest and profoundest truth when it comes to planning education for young minds or adult minds? How can we incorporate this creatively into a curriculum? This challenge makes sense not only for elementary or secondary education but also for higher education.

One quick example that comes to mind is service learning movement - that is one way in which students are encouraged to explore their most immediate environments to learn about the deeper issues and complex topics about society. Sri Aurobindo writes about the left and right-hand faculties and function of the intellect. What is most admirable is that these discoveries were made by Sri Aurobindo through his yogic experience in — much before Dr.