Able Teachers – Nation Builders

Translation of the Kannada Book:

Samartha Shikshaka – Rashtra Rakshaka

by

Swami Purushottamananda

 

Preface

Nation-building actually means building the character and shaping the personality of its people. Or, doesn’t it? The primary role in building the personality of the citizens is that of parents. But, in today’s world, it appears that parents are not really capable of making good citizens out of their children. We don’t need elaborate social surveys or Gallop polls to realise this. Just look at the behaviour, attitudes and speech patterns of the boys and girls around us and it will be obvious. It is a painful truth that in most cases, today’s younger generation does not behave decently with their own parents! Indeed, what will be the standard of their behaviour at the social and national levels! Therefore, the most important role in building value-based citizens is that of parents. And the next important role is that of teachers. When it comes to character-building and guiding the lives of the youth in the right direction, there are certain aspects that are beyond the reach of the parents themselves; and those aspects can be contributed by teachers alone. Teachers therefore supplement the role of the parents or guardians in the grand task of Nation-building.

Therefore, when parents and teachers work hand-in-hand, supplementing and complementing each other in their common job of building the personalities of the younger generation, it is certain that a truly great Nation will be built.

Then there is the vital issue of the teacher-taught relationship. Teaching is a very noble profession. Studying is a very austere vocation. (Yes, studying is a vocation, although it is never seen in that light.) The teacher has to teach with great patience, compassion and empathy. In fact, these qualities bring the teacher’s soul en rapport with the soul of the student. The student has to receive knowledge from his teacher with faith, devotion and humility. These qualities make the student receptive to something in the teacher which triggers in the student the same love that the teacher has for the subject being taught. The teacher must have complete command over his subject and bring it alive before his students. Then alone will his teaching be effective. The student must possess the requisite qualification in order to fruitfully receive the information imparted by his teachers, transform it into knowledge and use it in his life. The Katha Upanishad proclaims:

“Marvellous is the teacher who can teach effectively; marvellous too is the student who has the requisite qualification to grasp that teaching!”

It is interesting to note the exact words the Upanishad employs. The word ‘Vakta’ actually means speaker. This Sanskrit word denotes an academic teacher as well as a spiritual preceptor. The word ‘Labdha’ literally means the receiver. This Sanskrit word therefore denotes both an academic student as well as the spiritual disciple. ‘Jnata’ means the knowledgeable one, again denoting both the academic teacher as well as spiritual preceptor. And ‘Anushishtha’ means the taught, denoting both an academic student as well as the spiritual disciple. The main purport of this Upanishad verse is – the teacher imparting knowledge must be charismatic; and the student learning under such a charismatic teacher has to be sharp, brilliant and receptive. This verse clearly indicates the ideal level of excellence required in teachers and students for the most effective teaching-learning experience to take place. The Upanishad rishi declares that both teacher and student must vie with each other with regard to excellence of character and ability for the best education to occur between them.

We have to admit that the responsibility of teachers is as onerous as their challenges are stupendous. We further hold that it is more important to choose the right kind of persons as teachers than to merely meditate on the characteristics of an ideal teacher. No matter how intensely we dwell upon the various qualities of ideal teachers, in our Teacher Training Institutes, none of it will be of any avail, if the right kind of persons is not entering into the teaching profession. Every once in a while we find people who took to teaching because they were unable to obtain any other employment; but gradually, in the course of their teaching career, due to their sincerity and personal interest, they elevated themselves into top-notch teachers. But the teachers of the highest calibre are those who took to teaching because right from their very birth, they were imbued with a penchant for teaching. We find that in such instances, the profession seeks out the persons and not vice-versa. Such born-teachers, we find, exert the most remarkable and pervasive influence on generations of students, helping them blossom into fine citizens, thus watering the very taproots of the glorious ‘Tree of Nation’. We have attempted to portray the characteristics of such able, effective teachers, in the following pages.

Swami Purushottamananda

Note: In many places in the following pages, we use ‘he’ to mean both ‘he’ and ‘she’. Similarly, the word ‘man’ is used to denote the common nouns of both genders. The female readers will kindly take this into consideration and not take umbrage for absence of the female nouns and pronouns. This style has been followed for ease of reading only.

A good teacher is the real Guardian of the Nation

Students are enthusiasm personified. The fresh blood coursing through their adolescent veins fills them with boundless energy. All that energy needs to be properly channelized by breaking them into a balanced routine of rest, nutrition and activity. Everything that their senses observe translates into a string of questions in their minds. Their minds need to be satisfied by patiently and adequately answering each of those queries. He, who does all these, wins the minds and hearts of the students. It is indeed a stupendous task and who but a truly marvellous teacher can accomplish that!

A sculptor painstakingly identifies a block of stone and chisels out from that amorphous mass a beautiful statue. More arduous, by far, is the job of controlling the restless minds of the young students and transforming them into cultured, responsible, socially focussed young citizens! And such is the task a truly marvellous teacher undertakes!

Identifying the latent capabilities of a student is the first great task. Providing suitable opportunities, constantly encouraging them and suitably guiding them to manifest those hidden abilities is the next great task. Patiently overseeing the full blossoming of all those talents and consequent transformation of the raw young child into a responsible, socially productive citizen is the third great task. And such is the gargantuan task a truly marvellous teacher undertakes!

Great educational thinkers may propound the loftiest theories and philosophies of Education. But, in order to make those theories work, in order to actualise those philosophies into practical systems that can produce the best kind of personalities, we need truly marvellous teachers!

The buildings may be magnificent; the surroundings may be the most salubrious; state-of-the-art teaching aids may be available; the best kind of students may be on the rolls; but without truly capable teachers, that educational institution can never scale the heights of excellence; it will be but a farce!

An educational institution may be financially in dire straits, but if it has capable and effective teachers, it is bound to achieve academic glory.

Every single pie funded by the Government and the society to educational establishments must be utilised for the proper running of their institutions. When people see the ideal teachers do this, it is but natural that they too would like to participate in such honest institutions by making their own monetary donations.

Hundreds and thousands of students need to stay in their schools and colleges for five-six hours every day. Naturally, the campuses become dirty during the course of the day. No teaching-learning is possible in a dirty environment. Therefore, the campuses must be maintained as clean and tidy as possible. Maintaining this cleanliness is a big job. This task of constant housekeeping can be executed only by enlightened and humane teachers who genuinely feel for their students.

Teachers who can indelibly impress upon their students virtues such as truthfulness & honesty, sincerity, compassion, camaraderie, work-efficiency, gentility, largeness of heart, purity of character & personal integrity, love for the Nation, love for one’s own teachers, love of God are indeed the true builders of the Nation. Yes, they are the real ‘Jewels of our Country’ – the Bharata Ratnas.

The curriculum consists typically of the languages, sciences and arts. But the education that is merely curriculum, devoid of moral values is like a desert, a vast expanse of useless, arid land with not a drop of water to sustain life. Who else but teachers can imbue the juvenile psyches with these invaluable ethical and moral values!

Even the best farmer is helpless with seeds that lack substance. Similarly, the teacher may be of a high calibre, but if the taught lacks inherent ability, even such a top-class teacher can achieve nothing spectacular with such a lifeless student.

A farmer’s responsibility does not end with timely watering and manuring his plot of land. He also has to regularly remove the weeds that populate his crops; then he has to fence his crop suitably so that cattle don’t stray into it and eats the crop; and finally he has to regularly spray medicines to prevent his crops from catching diseases. A teacher’s job too is no different. It won’t do to be a stickler to his routine and believe that his responsibility towards his students is bound by the hands of the clock. He has to keep an eagle’s watch over his dear students so that they don’t fall into bad company; that they don’t fall prey to the various addictions plaguing today’s society; he has to stand as a protective armour against his students being attacked by various kinds of mental perversions that hound adolescents.

An educational institution will gain fame and glory only if it has dedicated teachers. Ergo, an excellent school or college naturally means excellent teachers. Is it not?

Only a burning flame can light another lamp. So also, only a brilliant teacher can kindle the flame of knowledge in his students.

Teachers feel helpless against the deleterious influence that easy money wields over their well-to-do students these days. If something is not done at the earliest for this, it should come as no surprise if the situation goes beyond everybody’s control.

We know that students coming from rich families are loaded with easy ‘pocket money’. It is beyond our imagination how mere kids can manage to get a king’s ransom as ‘allowance’! We also hear that some rich parents try to ‘win’ the love of their children by flushing them with as much pocket money as they ask for! ‘Well, we had to struggle our way through education; atleast our children need not struggle thus.’ Some parents, who entertain such feelings, pump lot of easy money into their children’s pockets! Such parental attitudes are insurmountable challenges before teachers today.

Teachers, who embody all the cardinal virtues and humanistic values, can indeed create a heavenly atmosphere around themselves.

Students must perforce attend classes. Then later on, in order to gain a competitive edge, they must perforce attend tuitions too. Such is the popular belief. Alas! Where will such a tight routine leave them with time for play or for self-study? How difficult it is to make people realise the supreme importance of games, self-study and even leisure for the growth of healthy young individuals! The best teachers understand this dilemma of their students. They give their best during their regular classes, saving thereby valuable time of their students and gaining their respect. Is it any wonder if such teachers are revered by their students?

It is imperative that a teacher must teach in such a way that the students understand the subject. But it is equally important that teachers must sympathetically listen to their problems, and give timely advice and guidance. It is only the best teachers that realise this aspect of teaching.

Lust, anger, greed, inflexible likes and dislikes, jealousy, etc seem to have been ingrained in human society. Students too, therefore, are not free from these scourges of human nature. These inner demons manipulate human beings in strange ways. This is obvious to the discerning eye. Hence they have been designated as the real ‘Enemies of mankind’. There is therefore the urgent task of protecting innocent young students from being infected by these psychological microbes. And that is no small task. Who indeed can take up this task? The able teacher alone!

Alcoholism, gambling, debauchery, sensuality, etc are poisoning the human environment today, distorting the entire society, like never before. There is also, however, a strong counter-reaction to eradicate these evils from society. The Govt too is laudably chipping in its mite in this direction. But, we would be well advised to, first of all, rope in the involvement of teachers in this fight. Teachers can effectively campaign against these evils by constantly depicting, before the young minds, the decadence they bring about in our lives. That would be the safest inoculation for the younger generation, making them impervious to these fatal infections on their personalities. They will then grow up to be healthy individuals. Consequently, our Nation could become ‘Heaven on Earth’.

Lust, anger, greed, inordinate attachments, jealousy, etc. are the root cause for many problems that plague the typical teenage students. Experienced teachers realise this. They also realise that these problems can be solved only by teaching them how to sublimate these negative forces arising within them during their adolescence.

Inferiority complex is common among teenagers. But, its presence is terribly debilitating on the personality. It is a source of untold grief, since it gnaws at the very vitals of the personality. A good teacher will take lot of precautions to ensure that this complex doesn’t strike its roots in the growing minds of his students.

Very few students are fortunate to get timely guidance from their own parents. Why is that? It is because, the number of such enlightened parents is dismally low in our country. Most parents transfer the responsibility of grooming their children onto teachers. Teachers therefore seem to be the only saviours that students can look up to, now-a-days!

Adolescence is the time when the civic and nationalistic sense arises in our youth. But, they don’t arise automatically with the onset of biological adolescence. Capable teachers are required to light those sparks in students.

Consider a world-renowned scientist. He must have had some innate ability in his youth. Or consider an acclaimed artist. He must certainly have had an inborn talent in him in his childhood. Or, consider again, a saint, whom the world reveres today. He must undoubtedly have been born with substantial spiritual tendencies. But can it be doubted that these inborn abilities and talents and tendencies could have seen the light of day without being suitably aroused, nurtured and groomed by some able teacher, at the right time?

Who, in truth, holds the reins of a Nation?  Is it the Government that governs it that holds the reins, or is it the army that guards its international boundaries that does so? Neither. The reins of a Nation lie actually in the hands of its teachers. Would anyone beg to differ? Consider any person constituting your Government, be it an elected Minister, or a highly qualified IAS officer or a barely educated peon. Were they not students once upon a time, and did they not pass through the moulding hands of several teachers? Was it not those teachers that provided these people with their value-systems with which they run the Nation today?

The quality of governance defines the quality of a country. The quality of persons constituting the Government defines the quality of governance. Again, the quality of teachers defines the quality of persons constituting the Government. Hence we contend that the quality of a Nation is defined by its teachers.

Millions of students are in the hands of our teachers. And various political powers have very cunningly kept these teachers in their clutches. Or, should we say, teachers have unwittingly played themselves into the hands of manipulative politicians? Either way, this unholy nexus between teachers and politicians has dried up the moral fibre of our teachers.  Hence, whatever the teachers say gets echoed only between the walls of their classrooms and doesn’t reverberate in the personalities of their students.

An able body of excellent teachers can certainly form a great and glorious nation. But so long as our universities and other establishments of learning are in the clutches of politicians, all that we visualise regarding the vital role of our teachers in the sacred act of Nation-building is but a vain day-dream and nothing else.

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What is Education?

A person gets a degree certificate after many years of attending school & college. And what do we see as the result all that effort? Much ado about nothing. We find innumerable youths today with a college education, roaming around the streets without a job. All that education could not yet make them stand on their own feet; well beyond their youth and right into their middle age, we find men and women financially dependent on their parents. But that is just the sombre side of the picture. On the other side, we find illiterate, uneducated people, who have never been to schools and colleges, becoming very successful in their lives, forming the vanguard of society. It is then that we are tormented by the question – what is Education?

History glowingly depicts how the illiterate young Mogul Akbar recruited the best educated men of his time, used their knowledge and experience, carved a formidable empire for himself, and ruled it for many years as an absolute monarch, earning for himself the rare sobriquet ‘Akbar the Great’. Such instances torment us with the question – what is Education?

Not so long ago, in the outskirts of British Calcutta, there was a boy called Gadadhar who refused to attend school, claiming that such pedagogy was no more than just a means of livelihood, while he was interested in truly developing himself. Later on, true to his inner vision, he transformed himself into Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the God-man of Dakshineshwar. And today, the best educated brains all over the world are studying his inspired words and writing most learned treatises on his merest sayings. When we observe such lives, we are, but naturally, tormented by the question – what is Education?

Education is what makes us understand our own mind. Education is what arouses our inner powers, faculties, potentialities and puts them to use. Education is what shapes us into a beautiful, all-rounded personality. Education is what removes our slavery, banishes our helplessness and manifests our divinity. In short, education is what makes us realise within the depths of our hearts that our destiny is in our own hands.

The Hindu scriptures enumerate 64 valid fields of human knowledge and expertise. Each is called a Vidya. It is also said therein that our ancient kings, statesmen and leaders knew all of them. But, in today’s modern world, the fund of human knowledge has increased to gigantic proportions. There are innumerable such valid fields of human knowledge today, each mind-blowing in its scope, beauty and utility. Each field is today called either a Science or an Art.

However notwithstanding such complex deliberations, all knowledge vouchsafed to mankind can be classified under either of two types:

  1. Academic knowledge
  2. Self knowledge.

Academic knowledge equips us for dealing with the day-to-day affairs of the world around us. Self knowledge enables us to deliver ourselves from spiritual bondage. We, no doubt, need to properly equip ourselves to deal efficiently with our day-to-day affairs. We cannot ignore this world. For, don’t we feel hungry every day?  So, we need our daily bread. And academic knowledge is indispensable for earning our daily bread. But then, as Jesus Christ said, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone!’ We also need to free ourselves spiritually. But most of us decide that that can wait. Why? It is because most of us have not yet felt the hunger of the soul. As a famous prayer says, ‘O Lord, make me free, but not yet! Later on!’

The goal of academic education is to equip ourselves with a means of livelihood. The goal of spiritual education is to enjoy the absolute freedom concomitant with the dissolution of our spiritual bondage.

When we say academic education provides us with ‘a means of livelihood’, we do not mean just ‘food, clothing and shelter’. Everything that goes to make our daily life easier is included therein. Let us elaborate this a little. Merely satisfying the various hungers of the body won’t suffice. The mind also needs its food. Academic education can, and does, indeed provide that also. A good academic education makes provisions for supplying everything required by our body and our mind. Thus, a good academic education becomes a source of quite a good amount of joy in life.

Again, we have been speaking about freedom from spiritual bondage. What does that mean? It means freedom from our endless desires; it means freedom from all the delusions arising out of our lusts. Our spiritual bondage arises purely because of these small, simple and seemingly harmless figments of imagination – desire & lust. And as long as we are in their clutches, there is no end to our sufferings. The innermost core of our self is ever free. Hence its very essence is bliss. But, due to some inscrutable reason, this ever-free core of our being gets caught in the delusion that it is not free, that it is a body and has a mind, and is bound by so many things and considerations, and starts calling itself a ‘Person’. It then proclaims that it has a ‘Personality’; that it is either a ‘he’ or a ‘she’ and that it has an ‘Individuality’, different from everyone else in this world; all of which however is purely chimerical. And the great fun is that, in this despicable state, this chimera starts believing quite strongly that he or she is happy wallowing in all these endless rigmaroles of the senses and their enjoyments. But, gradually, the soul starts recognising in other persons like himself that there is old age, disease and even death. Thus the great delusion starts exposing its inherent contradictions, setting in motion a tremendous shift in his world-view. It is then that he starts thinking deeply. When he finally evolves to this stage of deeply contemplating over the inherent contradictions of this world, the words and advises of saints and seers starts to make sense to this person. By heeding to those sublime words of the saints, and by his own study of the holy books, he starts building his inner life in right earnest. He begins his spiritual practice. He starts to get a ‘taste’ of the inner buffetings that naturally follow his spiritual practises. And at last, one fine day, he establishes his victory over his own mind. He enters the innermost recesses of his centre of consciousness and dissolves in what lies there. He realises that he is in fact a spark of pure consciousness and is most blissful in that blessed state of existence. Freed at last from the clutches the mind and senses, he reaches the state of spiritual freedom and floats around in the ocean of unalloyed consciousness.

‘That is Education which sets you free.’

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Talent & Training

Within every student lie tremendous possibilities. It has been variously called ‘Capacity’, ‘Hidden potential’, and ‘Inherent Ability’, ‘Inner stuff’, ‘Inner substance’ and ‘Talent’. But it is generally dormant, latent, unexpressed. Hence it is that we do not see manifestations in the personality of people, commensurate with their capacities. These potentialities need to be aroused. When these potentials are suitably aroused, the student will in time adorn the society like a jewel, becoming a boon to himself and to others around him. How are we to arouse these potentialities, do you ask? Well, the universal answer is – by suitable education and appropriate training of the faculties.

As in every man and woman, so also in students, this latent potentiality has three aspects. In India we have named them ‘Jnana Shakti’, ‘Icchha Shakti’ and ‘Kriya Shakti’. Shakti means Power. Note that the potentialities are called powers, something that can be tapped and put to use. We may understand them by calling them ‘the power to think, imagine and know’, ‘the power to will’ and ‘the power to act’ respectively. Now, to what extent these powers have been aroused in each individual, is something that has to be studied in each case separately. In other words, although every man and woman has these three powers, the extent of their manifestation in each individual generally varies.

Jnana Shakti – (The power or ability to think, imagine and know): If you wish to undertake any endeavour and successfully work it out, first of all, you need to have a clear blueprint of the entire undertaking. Then, you need to have a clear understanding of all the logistics you will require to undertake the job. When a student’s Jnana Shakti is aroused, he will gain the ability to think, imagine and know all these things.

Icchha Shakti – (The power or ability to will): The very urge to undertake a good endeavour is itself the first manifestation of Icchha Shakti. Having decided to do it, when you start working it out, you will face many hurdles and obstacles. Overcoming each hurdle, inching your way towards the goal, requires truly an uncommon doggedness. This indeed is the final stage of manifestation of this rare Icchha Shakti.

Kriya Shakti – (The power to act): Using the five organs of knowledge and the five organs of action, along with the other personal energies endowed in our body and mind, if we successfully and efficiently carry out our job to fruition, that is a manifestation of Kriya Shakti, again a rare power these days.

Since these three powers are inherently present in all students, we find such unbounded enthusiasm and life in students. However, if these students are not taught about Self-Control, about the urgent and invariable necessity of moral behaviour, great indeed will be the loss to both the students and to society! Do you know why? Because, powers are like double-edged knives. If one is not sufficiently trained to use such a knife, great is the damage that will be wrought. If you know how to use it, you could chop a vegetable or cut a fruit with it; if you don’t, then your finger could get chopped off! And if the wielder is wicked, then he might very well cut-off someone’s throat too!

Therefore, while the dormant powers of young students are being aroused through Education, simultaneously, we need to give suitable training to them to wield those formidable powers for their own benefit and for the welfare of society. He is indeed a great teacher who can do this difficult job. Hence, we contend that a truly great teacher is a real Nation-builder.

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Minerva’s Treasure Chest

A Eulogy of Education

Man is by nature a comfort-lover. He has always been seeking and enjoying his comforts through various means and methods. Let him. No harm in that. But, he who enjoys his comforts in the backdrop of culture that arises from thorough education truly enjoys! Education brings knowledge. Knowledge is infinite. Hence such a person’s joy is also boundless.

We have attempted to depict the greatness and utility of education here through some very popular Sanskrit proverbs. Such a Sanskrit proverb, which is the distilled experience of generations of thinkers, is known as a ‘Subhashitha’. But we have given only a straight translation of those Sanskrit verses and have not taken the trouble to explain them. There are two reasons for this: the book should not become bulky. This is the first reason. Secondly, it would give a chance for the reader to think, feel and imagine. Moreover, this book will be read only by educated persons. That means, they can read each proverb, think deeply over its meaning, feel intensely over its purport, plumb the depths of the thought, imagine the various possibilities pregnant therein, and enjoy a refreshing sojourn in the sphere of ideas.

Truly, there is hardly anything greater than man on this planet. But, an uneducated man is no better than a brute that roams the jungles. Hence, when educated people read these Sanskrit proverbs and think deeply over their meaning, they may very well realise what a precious possession they have obtained in the form of Education. Man alone, among all the denizens of Earth, has the capability and opportunity to acquire this priceless possession called Education. But, does he put this capability to good use? That is the question.

  1. Even if a teacher teaches just one alphabet, and not anything more, the student remains forever indebted to him, for he can never sufficiently repay him for that.

 

  1. One fourth of his knowledge, a student learns from his teachers; one fourth, by exercising his intellect and understanding; one fourth, from his fellow-students; while the last quarter comes by digesting the experiences of his own life.

 

  1. Work that does not bind you is right activity. All other activities merely cause fatigue and serve no real purpose. Any intellectual activity that frees you is Education. Rest all are intellectual gymnastics and are of mere cosmetic value.

 

  1. White hairs alone don’t qualify you for maturity. Even the gods revere the wisdom of a well-educated man although he is a mere youth!

 

  1. The real organ of vision is Education; Truthfulness is the real character-forming austerity; Delusion and wrong-understanding are the real sorrow; and non-attachment is real joy.

 

  1. Money, friend, age, work and knowledge are all worthy of our respect. Of these again, the successive ones are hierarchically worthier, than their preceding ones, of our respect.

 

  1. Technical (or academic) knowledge and self (or spiritual) knowledge – both are highly valued and sought after. However, while the one loses its utility when a man becomes old, the validity of the other extends right up to the grave.

 

  1. You must learn and earn with no thought of old age and death. However, you must act morally and work ethically as though your tryst with death is the very next moment.

 

  1. Who, indeed, is not charmed by a person who is highly learned and at the same time humble? Such a personality is like a resplendent gold ornament inset with the choicest precious gems.

 

  1. Education and suzerainty are never equal. A powerful man is respected only in the area that lies under his jurisdiction, but a learned man is respected everywhere.

 

  1. The discerning man must certainly strive to learn even if he is getting old. Why? Because even though it may not be of any use to him in this life, in his successive births, it will stand him in good stead. For, he will be able to learn that thing very quickly.

 

  1. The most precious acquisition a man can have is Education. Why? Thieves cannot steal it from you. People in power can never confiscate it from you. Brothers can’t stake their claim in it from you. It doesn’t bog you down as a burdensome weight. And unlike any other possession, the more you use it, the more it accumulates.

 

  1. A person may be very handsome, may be very well behaved, may have a good pedigree, may be very rich, but if he lacks education, his personality will be lacklustre. Therefore has it been rightly said that Education is the real ornament of our personality.

 

  1. A person who seeks comfort has to forego Education. He who seeks to be educated must renounce comfort. Where is education for a bohemian, and where is hedonism for a student?

 

  1. Acquire knowledge every moment of your life. Make money out of every pie. Where is learning for a man who wastes time? Where is wealth for a man who wastes his money?

 

  1. Literacy is not education. A literate person without the moderation of ethics becomes the Devil. Academic knowledge not tempered by morality is but a menace. But spiritual knowledge, even if taken to its extreme and practised to limits of immoderation, leads only to the ‘good of many and welfare of many’.

 

  1. No matter how learned and knowledgeable a wicked person is, it is like the mythical diamond on the head of a snake; the diamond is useless to us for we can never obtain it, and the snake still continues to be a source of fear to us, despite its dazzling decoration.

 

  1. Let us learn to evaluate people based on their learning and not on their attire. Wasn’t Lord Shiva, although a naked mendicant, revered as omniscient?

 

  1. A good education makes you humble. Humility makes you qualified. Qualification attracts wealth. True wealth establishes a stable social order. And a stable social order gives rise to happiness all around.

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Some great thinkers on Education

 

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence- Robert Frost

 

I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think. Socrates

 

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them. Mark Twain

 

The more extensive a man’s knowledge of what has been done, the greater will be his power of knowing what to do. Benjamin Distraeli

 

To be conscious that you are ignorant is the great step to knowledge.Benjamin Disraeli

 

We learn by doing. Aristotle

 

It takes a village to raise a child. – African proverb

 

The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards. – Anatole France

 

Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction. – Annie Sullivan
All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth. – Aristotle
To be able to be caught up into the world of thought — that is Education. – Edith Hamilton
Education is a debt due from present to future generations. – George Peabody

 

It is not so important to know everything as to appreciate what we learn. – Hannah More

 

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. – Henry B. Adams

 

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. – James Baldwin

 

Education…is a process of living and not a preparation for future living… Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. – John Dewey
Theories and goals of education don’t matter a whit if you don’t consider your students to be human beings. – Lou Ann Walker

 

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war. – Maria Montessori
Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. – Marian Wright Edelman
Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. – Will Durant

Easily learned, easily forgotten. – Anonymous

 

Study makes a full man; writing makes a ready man; speaking makes a perfect man. – Francis Bacon

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Swami Vivekananda on Education

  • Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.
  • What is Education? Is it book-learning? No. Is it diverse knowledge? Not even that. The training, by which the current and expression of will are brought under control and become fruitful, is called Education.
  • Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-building assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by-heart a whole library…if education is identical with information, the libraries are the greatest sages in the world, and encyclopaedias are the rishis.
  • There is only one purpose in the whole of life – Education. Otherwise, what is the use of men and women, land and wealth?
  • We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded and by which we can stand on our own feet.
  • The ideal of all education, all training, should be this man-making…the man who influences, who throws his magic, as it were, upon his fellow beings, is a dynamo of power, and when that man is ready, he can do anything and everything he likes; that personality put into anything will make it work.
  • Instruction is to be repeated.
  • The teaching must…be modified according to the needs of the taught.
  • The only true teacher is he who can convert himself, as it were, into a thousand persons at a moment’s notice. The only true teacher is he who can immediately come down to the level of the student and transfer his soul to the student’s soul and see through the student’s eyes and hear through his ears and understand through his mind. Such a teacher can really..all these negative, breaking-down, destructive teachers that are in the world can never do any good.
  • The true teacher is one who can throw his whole force into the tendency of the taught. Without real sympathy, we can never teach well.
  • He alone teaches who has something to give, for teaching is not talking, teachings is not imparting doctrines, it is to communicate.
  • A student must…say ‘No’ to his senses.
  • A student should have great power of endurance.
  • You cannot make a plant to grow in soil unsuited to it. A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you can do is not of the positive nature. You can take away the obstacles, but knowledge comes out of its own nature. Loosen the soil a little, so that it may come out easily. Put a hedge round it; see that it is not killed by anything. The rest is a manifestation from within its own nature. So with the education of a child; a child educates itself.
  • No one was really taught by another; each of us has to teach himself. The external teacher offers only the suggestion which arouses the internal teacher to work to understand things.
  • When faith in the external teacher is strong, then the Teacher of all teachers within speaks… (This Teacher of all teachers) gets (all that the student) wants for (himself).

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Swami Vivekananda & Organization

“Why is it that organization is so powerful? Do not say organization is material. Why is it, to take a case in point, that forty millions of Englishmen rule three hundred millions of people here? What is the psychological explanation? These forty millions put their wills together and that means infinite power, and you three hundred millions have a will each separate from the other. Therefore to make a great future India, the whole secret lies in organization, accumulation of power, co-ordination of wills.”

 I begin by quoting this passage from the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. This passage appears in his lecture ‘Future of India’ delivered by the great Swami in Chennai on 14th Feb 1897.

We see a few interesting points in the above passage:

The first thing to note is that here we have a spiritual giant of the stature of Swami Vivekananda discussing such a mundane idea as making a nation great! Isn’t that the job of politicians and diplomats? Isn’t that the job of the leaders of political parties? Isn’t that the job of leaders who have legislative power? Should a monk speak or think on these issues?

The second thing to note is – Swamiji says that the forty millions of Englishmen put their wills together. Did they, really? If so, how and why? Does history mention any such development where the forty million Englishmen of the 19th century came together and decided that they would put their wills together? None of the history books mentions such a development. Why is Swamiji mentioning this here?

The third thing to note is – Swamiji says here ‘Do not say organization is material’. Who said organization is material? Most of us don’t even know what organization means! Some of us perhaps think that organization means corporations, consisting of profit-minded executives; some perhaps even think that it refers to groups of people who come together for a particular cause, such as the organization for blacks’ rights, or organization for the economically deprived. Even if we do understand this word to mean something like that, who amongst us ever felt that organization is ‘material’?

The fourth thing to note is – in order to become a great nation, India needs to do only one thing! There is no need to do many things. Only one thing is necessary, says Swamiji. And that is – ‘Coordinate the wills of the Indians’.

Let us deal with each of these points one by one.

Why is a spiritual man, a monk, and that too, one of the stature of Swami Vivekananda, talking about the future of a nation, about making India great, about organization? Shouldn’t a monk confine himself to spiritual practices, to scriptural study, to rituals and spiritual ministration? Isn’t it wrong for a monk to deal with ideas such as those mentioned in this passage?

Well, traditionally, monks have dealt with such issues. Our country has had a marvelous history.[1] The social power structure has always been managed by the two upper castes – the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas. Between them, they ruled the people of this country. When the Kshatriyas lost touch with the ground reality and became too dictatorial, the Brahmins overthrew the Kshatriyas and took power into their hands. Same thing happened when the Brahmins lost touch with the ground reality and became arrogantly powerful and oppressed the people whom they ruled. It is because of this dipole power structure in India from ancient times that class struggle (so fondly studied by the Communist historians) never arose here.

Over and above the four castes of this unique social structure, there was one more group of people who outlawed themselves from this four-caste structure and stayed outside the society. They were the monks. This group of people were quite objective in their perceptions of society and were sensitive to the tilts in the power balance of the ancient Indian society. Since the monks were self-declared outlaws, they did not need patronage from anyone, neither the Brahmins nor the Kshatriyas. They would boldly point out the flaws in their functioning and warn them to correct themselves or get ready for an upheaval and overthrowing from power. Moreover, since monks themselves were not beneficiaries in the resulting social change, their observations and advices carried a great moral value. Repeatedly, this happened in Indian history. However, the unwritten norm of the Hindu monks has been that the monk could at most point out the flaw and then hands off! The monk would not engage in actually re-structuring the power equations in society. From time immemorial, it was considered one of the activities assigned to monks to point out the corrective measures that society needed to get back on track; and it was simultaneously considered anathema for monks to directly get involved in engaging in the political activities required for bringing about the prescribed social changes.

This is what we see Swamiji do here. He was able to see why Indians lived as slaves to a foreign power. He was able to see why a foreign power was able to enslave the Indians and rule over them. He was able to see how Indians could break themselves from the shackles of such foreign domination. But, he wouldn’t involve himself directly in any political activity required for breaking India free from foreign rule. He however delineated what was required for Indians to become a great nation, which included obtaining political freedom, educational self-reliance and economic superiority in the comity of nations. If we were concerned about our country’s future, we would heed these words of Swamiji and work as directed by him.

Swamiji says that the forty millions of Englishmen put their wills together. Did they, really?

The rise of the Joint Stock Companies in Europe, especially in Britain was a watershed event in the history of mankind. This event fueled the Industrial Revolution as much as the scientific discoveries did, if not more. Man knew a particular type of production until then. Production activity was largely localized. And it was confined to a small group of people who held the technical knowhow as a safely guarded secret. All of a sudden, the British were engaged in a new type of production that required enormous coordination of the activities of an enormous number of people across enormous physical distances. For instance, a large number of people were engaged in one part of the world in growing cotton. Once they had grown the cotton, it was all collected by another large group of people and transported across oceans to huge mills situated in some other part of the globe. Yet another large group of people ran these huge mills. They worked day and night to manufacture standardized cotton threads. These threads were then collected by yet another large group of people who were engaged in manufacturing clothes out of those yarns. One more large group of people then transported those clothes all over the world and handed them over to a different large of people who then sold them to end-users.

This was the main reason behind the rise of the organization in Britain. The cause was economic in nature. More and more number of people joined together in a particular enterprise. Large amounts of money and resources were pooled in. Huge amounts of things were manufactured in a short time. And the things thus manufactured were more often than not, very complex. As long as man confined himself to the old style of manufacturing, all he could produce was a bullock cart, or a horse drawn carriage. Once large number of people came together, as they did in Britain, man was able to produce a motor car. It is impossible to produce a modern motor car in the old style of production.

Whatever be the reason, the British had found out a way to get a large number of people to come together, pool in their money, resources and effort, and consequently multiply their individual strengths while cancelling out their individual weaknesses. This strange form of community activity was later on given the term organization. Thus, the root of the modern organization, as we know it today, is purely economic, purely material.

The point that Swamiji is trying to make here is – granted that the western world’s organization has purely materialistic roots, but, once an organization has been formed, it no longer remains a purely materialistic entity. Why is that so? The objectives of forming an organization may be to earn money, to wage wars and kill people and to conquer new regions. But what exactly is an organization? Is any motley group of people called an organization? If a group of people is to be considered an organization, there are certain important criteria. First, there has to be a group of people, who, amongst them have a wide variety of skills, talents, experiences and abilities. This allows for division of labor amongst them. Secondly, they have jointly agreed upon a common goal, or a common set of goals to be achieved. Thirdly, all of them pool in their resources, energies and time to work together in order to achieve those commonly set goals. Fourthly, their attitudes and behaviors are conditioned by commonly accepted norms. And lastly, all of them recognize that the group has an existence of its own, just as all of the individual members have an existence independent of one another. In other words, the group is considered as a living entity, just as the individual members are. And this existence is recognized in all the individual and collective activities and decisions of the group. These criteria show one very important characteristic: the existence of the organization, therefore, is not temporal. The existence of organization is in the minds of the members. The more the individuals get identified with this mental construct, the stronger that organization becomes. The individual members pour in their life-force into the sustenance and growth of this organization. That organization now develops a life of its own, as it were. It develops individuality, as it were. Long story short, it comes into existence. All that exists has Spirit as its basis. Hence, Swamiji says that we shouldn’t write off organizations as inconsequential by thinking it is a mere material entity.

These ideas that we have explored till now in this article lead to a wonderful theory, which have enormous ramifications on our actions and on our lives. Let us try to analyze that briefly:

Swamiji said to Sister Nivedita once[2], “That is precisely my position about Brahman and the gods! I believe in Brahman and the gods, and not in anything else!”…. You see, I cannot but believe that there is somewhere a great Power that thinks of Herself as feminine, and called Kali, and Mother. And I believe in Brahman too …But is it not always like that? Is it not the multitude of cells in the body that make up the personality, the many brain-centers, not the one, that produce consciousness?… Unity in complexity! Just so! And why should it be different with Brahman? It is Brahman. It is the One. And yet and yet it is the gods too!” Elsewhere he makes a significant statement about God: “….the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum total of all souls[3]” It seems fairly clear to us now that Swamiji saw God as the sum-total of souls, apart from subscribing to the Impersonal aspect. When we extend this idea to an organization, we find that when a group of people come together, putting in their wills together for a common goal, no matter how trivial or mundane that goal be, in effect, there is a spiritual entity, a god, that is created!

This is a very powerful idea.

Our actions here have a repercussion on the spiritual realm! It has always been believed to be the other way around. It has always been held that some entities somewhere in an unapproachable spiritual realm decides that something should occur on earth, in our lives, and then we human beings act out that decision of the gods. This has been the commonly held belief. When we combine these three ideas of Swamiji – first, that organization is a spiritual entity; second, Reality is Personal as well as Impersonal; third, Personal God is the sum total of souls; – we arrive at a totally different conception of human actions. Gods may or may not influence our actions. But it is of much greater importance for us that our actions here influence the spiritual realm! By our actions, we can create new spiritual entities. If we decide to get together and combine our wills, we give rise to a new god! And that god needs to be worshipped. How? By our actions, again. Take an organization such as a factory. The moment you consider yourself a part of that organization, you are in the presence of a new god, the spiritual entity associated with that organization. You will need to worship that new god. Since this new god has a strange form, unlike a stone image, consisting of buildings and machinery and people and processes, your worship will have to be in consonance with this new form. Your so-called ‘work’ in that factory will be nothing but worship that the new god demands.

Some readers may object to the line of thought presented here, saying, I am blowing a simple idea of Swamiji out of all proportions. To answer such objections, let me quote one amazing statement of Swamiji: “Now we have a new India, with its new God, new religion, and new Vedas.[4]

This brings us to the fourth point: What India needs for a bright and strong future is just this – organization. People living in the geographical confines of India should feel identified with India. That is one organization Swamiji definitely wanted to take shape. All through history, people have populated this particular geographical region but have seldom felt identified with it as a Nation. Our identity has all along been to the religious and cultural mores of the sub-regions rather than to the abstract concept of a Nation.

The historic struggle for freedom from the British Rule in the early 20th century saw the development of national sense in us. The post-independence period in India however has done little to ensure that this national sense grows in the coming generations. The national sense grows along various lines in different cultures. The Civic sense is the basis in most western countries. In India, we do not see much hope along that line. A poor nation, habituated to hunger and squalor cannot be expected to appreciate the civic sense to any decent degree. Our hope lies in spiritualizing the abstract concept of the Nation. Swamiji makes a significant observation in a letter as follows: “But, excuse me if I say that it is sheer ignorance and want of proper understanding to think like that, namely, that our national ideal has been a mistake. First go to other countries and study carefully their manners and conditions with your own eyes – not with others’ – and reflect on them with a thoughtful brain, if you have it: then read your own scriptures, your ancient literature, travel throughout India, and mark the people of her different parts and their ways and habits with the wide-awake eye of an intelligent and keen observer – not with a fool’s eye – and you will see as clear as noonday that the nation is still living intact and its life is surely pulsating. You will find there also that, hidden under the ashes of apparent death, the fire of our national life is yet smoldering and that the life of this nation is religion, its language religion, and its idea religion; and your politics, society, municipality, plague-prevention work, and famine-relief work – all these things will be done as they have been done all along here, viz. only through religion; otherwise all your frantic yelling and bewailing will end in nothing, my friend![5]

India is a living goddess and She demands our worship. Won’t we respond? Extrapolating this idea further, every sub-structure within the nation is also a goddess (or a god, if you will). Every organization constituting the national economy is a living goddess. Let us worship these goddesses with the appropriate form of rituals. While a stone or marble image of a goddess called for the ritualistic dashopachara or shodashopachara puja, these new goddesses call for meaningful, systematic labor of our hands, heads and hearts. Let us please these modern goddesses, which are organizations, and allow our Nation to reach great heights of economic and social development simultaneously achieving our own spiritual unfoldment, ‘Atmano moksha jagaddhitashcha’.

***************

[1] Cf: Complete works of Swami Vivekananda: Vol-4: Modern India: An essay written for Udbodhan magazine, wherein Swami Vivekananda delineates this history in a masterly fashion, giving ample evidences from Indian history.

[2] Cf: Complete works of Sister Nivedita: Vol-1: Master as I saw him: Ramakrishna Sarada Mission, Kolkata: 1967: pg-118

[3] We can recall here the fact that Sri Ramakrishna used to go into Bhava Samadhi whenever he saw a gathering of people assembled for singing the praises of the Lord. Could it be that he perceived a vision in those cases, the vision of the spiritual entity corresponding to that group? See for instance, Cf: Sri Ramakrishna & His divine play: Swami Saradananda: Vedanta Society of St. Louis: 2003: pg 235 & pg 858.

[4] Cf: Complete works of Swami Vivekananda: Vol-7: Epistles: Letter No. XXXII, dated 27th April, 1896, written from Reading, USA to his brother disciples at Alambazar Math

[5] Cf: Complete works of Swami Vivekananda: Vol-5: Writings: Prose and Poems: The East And The West (Translated from Bengali) Chapter-I: Introduction

 

A Blue-print for Academic Improvement in Arunachal Pradesh (As sought for by the Director of School Education)

Based on the lessons learnt in the last four and a half decades in Ramakrishna Mission School, Aalo (Along), West Siang District, we present a dissertation on improving academic education in Arunachal Pradesh.

 

Aim of Education:

By imparting education to the Arunachali child, we wish to achieve the following:

  1. Integration of the child with the Indian Nation.
  2. Empowering the child with sufficient skills to participate meaningfully in the Governmental machinery & social set-up.
  3. Acclimatizing the child with the basic concepts of language (at least three), science, mathematics and history, required for making sense of the natural and social phenomena occurring around him/her.
  4. Developing in the child a faculty to express its thoughts, feelings and emotions in terms of words, both spoken & written.
  5. Awakening in the child a sense of wonder, a faculty for searching for truth and a faculty of aesthetics.
  6. Enabling the child to become a part of a team in a meaningful way.
  7. Spontaneously developing in the child a capacity for delayed gratification of various hungers – in other words, sublimation of the various natural urges in the child.
  8. Enabling the child to acquire a valid certificate from the Board by passing the prescribed examination procedures, thereby creating a sound base for its further education in a university.

 

The ideas associated with academic improvement can be classified under two headings – Academia & Discipline.

 

Academia:

  1. Syllabus & plan for its completion: Since the School will have to be affiliated to any one of the recognized Boards, such as CBSE, New Delhi or Arun Board, Itanagar, there is no flexibility or freedom in framing the syllabus, as such. But regarding completion of the syllabus, the School can plan in great detail, much to the greater benefit of the students. The completion of syllabus must be evenly phased out through out the working year so that the load on the student is even. Especially for the Board Exam classes such as Class VIII, Class X & Class XII, the entire syllabus must be completed by December, so that the student gets sufficient time for self-study and repeated revisions.

 

  1. Exams & tests: At least three exams must be conducted before deciding whether the child can be sent to the next higher class. The syllabus for the 1st Part Exam need not be repeated for the 2nd part exam and so also for the 3rd and final part exam. This will reduce the load on the child as well as give the child sufficient scope to dive deep into the syllabus meant for that particular semester. Monthly Tests must be held, especially in English, Math and Science. This will keep the child always in touch with the subjects. Else, the typical Arunachali child has the habit of studying only during the exam period, which could be academically detrimental for its intellectual growth.

 

 

  1. Hostel life versus Day scholarship: In the general situation prevailing in the Arunachali society now-a-days, the child may often not get a congenial study atmosphere at home. A strictly run hostel, however, provides wonderful opportunities for study culture in the child. By the time a child enters a hostel at the age of 5 years, he/she must have learnt to control its bowel movements. By the time it crosses the age of 10, it should have learnt to sit continuously at one place for at least 2 hours at a stretch. Without this training, study habit cannot be formed. By the age of 13, it should be introduced to the moral training of restraining its limbs and senses. A hostel environment is ideal for achieving these.

 

  1. Unisex schooling versus co-educational schooling: It is heartening to note that the Arunachali society has inbuilt systems for meaningful and healthy interaction between boys and girls, right from babyhood. Unisex schooling could upset this advantage. Thus, even where hostels are provided, it would be socially beneficial to have both boys and girls in the school.

 

  1. Role of games, sports & PT: The Arunachali child has an instinctual ability for team work. Hence these children excel in team sports like football, handball, volleyball and cricket. However, there is a need to popularize games that enhance mental abilities such as chess, sudoku, crossword and scrabble. A hostel environment is ideal for this. The natural litheness and suppleness of the Arunachali child’s body makes it ideal for acrobatic games such as gymnastics. Hence the school must have a gymnastics teacher. Every child must be given physical training instruction through drills and exercises in the morning. This helps the child to regulate its limb movements.

 

  1. Role of co-curricula: Children have tremendous energy. And the Arunachali child seems to be especially so endowed. Various opportunities must be provided by the school for canalizing this energy in meaningful ways. NCC, Social service, scouts & guides, and band training must be provided for the extroverted child. Depending on the child’s preference, it can opt for any one of these from Class VI. Painting, clay modeling, Crafts and origami training must be available for the aesthetically oriented child. Quiz groups, debate groups, study circles and philately clubs must be available in the school for the intellectual child.

 

  1. Role of art: Compulsory training in line drawing and color drawing must be given in the school right from KG up to at least Class VIII. After Class V, however, the specially endowed children must be identified and given further training in advanced forms of drawing and painting such as landscaping, perspective drawing and abstract art. Structured music must be taught to the child. Every Arunachali child today grows up being able to sing only contemporary songs of the cinema and music bands. This however does nothing to infuse culture in the child. Structured music, on the other hand, strengthens the personality of the child. The child that is unable to sing classical music must at least be taught to appreciate it. Avenues must be available for the child to learn to play some musical instruments like the harmonium, tabla, flute, guitar and the mouth organ. It is very strange that this land of bamboos does not have flautists. Girls must be taught structured dances of various cultures, apart from traditional tribal dance forms. This will result in infusion of cultures later on in the Arunachali society. The innate ability of the Arunachali child to draw, paint, sing and dance is something unparalleled in the world. This ability has not drawn the world’s attention purely because there is still no systematic training being imparted to the Arunachali child in these fields.

 

  1. Need of the Library & reading room: The child must be exposed to the world of books. By the time a child passes class VIII, he/she must have developed a habit of spending at least a solitary hour with a book, speaking to the author through its contents. Awakening a love of reading in the child is one of the great achievements of the school.

 

  1. Need of computer education: Compulsory computer education must be imparted to the child at least from class V onwards. By the time a child passes class VIII, he/she must be conversant with working on MS office and browsing the worldwide web.

 

  1. Instruments for developing National Consciousness: By the time a child passes class VIII, he/she must have a clear identification with the State and the Country. National pride in every child is the greatest security that the nation can have. Special assemblies on Martyrs’ Day, Sadbhavana Divas, etc must be conducted by the school. Processions and Prabhat Pheris must be organized by the School and the children must be encouraged to participate in them at least once a year. Children must be guided to prepare wall magazines on topics related to Indian Nationalist movement, Nationalist leaders and issues concerning the nation presently.

 

  1. Instruments for developing Time Consciousness: the primary instrument is the Morning Assembly. Every child must be encouraged to attend it. The Assembly must be meaningfully structured and must be short. Other instruments include a strict time keeper in the school and hostel. Every day, he shall ring the bell at the stipulated hours, and this must be adhered to at any cost. The child who learns to stick to the routine by the clock during its school days will develop healthy work habits later on in life.

 

Discipline:

  1. Discipline defined: As we have noted in Sl.No. 3 under ‘Academia’ supra, by the time a child enters a hostel at the age of 5 years, he/she must have learnt to control its bowel movements. Without this habit, the child won’t have a healthy psychological growth. By the time it crosses the age of 10, it should have learnt to sit continuously at one place for at least 2 hours at a stretch. Without this training, study habit cannot be formed. By the age of 13, it should be introduced to the moral training of restraining its limbs and senses. Thus discipline means training of the sensory and motor organs.

 

  1. Instruments for disciplining the child:
    1. Dressing: Uniform must be worn. And that too in a particular fashion only. Hairstyle and footwear must not be allowed to deviate beyond a permissible limit.
    2. Routine: every child must stick to the routine as maintained by the school and hostel time keeper.
    3. Attendance: the child cannot be allowed to be absent from school or hostel without notice.
    4. Punishments for deviations from the norm:
  1. The norms must be clearly spelt out for the child again and again, and from time to time.
  2. The punishment for deviation from the norm must be aimed at the conscience of the child and not at its ego or self-esteem. Quite often, we hurt the self-esteem of the child while punishing him/her and this is counter-productive in the long run. We only end up creating imbalanced individuals by doing so.
  • Corporal punishment must be avoided at every cost, even for small children of the KG and primary classes.
  1. While punishing adolescent children, special care must be taken to safeguard their self-esteem and image in the student-society.

 

  1. Counseling: Children everywhere need counseling. And the Arunachali child needs it all the more. We say this because the Arunachali child starts asserting its individuality much earlier than children in most other parts of India. So the teachers need to enter into quasi-parental relationships with the child and teach the child what right behavior is & what prohibited behavior is.

 

  1. Factors to be considered while disciplining the child:
    1. All too often, disciplining the child tends to be negative. The child is taught ‘Don’t tell lies’. But the child is not taught how not to tell a lie. More importantly, the child gets punished if it tells the truth in most cases. Whatever be the case, whatever be the actual event or situation, when the child speaks the truth, it must be rewarded. That is the only way of establishing discipline and reinforcing discipline in the child. In this regard, teachers need to be specially trained in handling Arunachali children.
    2. The present system of education depends largely on strict parental control over the child’s mind and its behavior. The Arunachali social set-up frees the child from parental control by the time the child reaches the age of 12, especially for boys, as we have seen. Unless this system is altered, and parental control remains until the child finishes its university education, there seems to be hardly any way in which the present system of education can benefit Arunachali society. In this regard, the school aught to form a Parent-Teachers Association and discuss this matter seriously between themselves.
    3. Since parental control relaxes itself too early in the child’s life, the Arunachali child forms very strong peer relationships. But peer relationships can never provide a moral standard for the child. At the same time, no peer relationship must be forcibly broken by either teachers or parents. Forcible isolation of the child from its peer circle is counter-productive. Again, counseling by the teachers, who have to double-up as quasi-parents, and strengthening of parental control over the child alone can remedy the situation and provide the child with a solid moral rudder for forming its personality.
    4. Children learn by imitation. Hence our behavior while children are around must be highly regulated. For instance, it won’t work if we are impulsive and blow our top for every small reason and then expect the child to be calm and composed. Children seldom listen to our words. Rather they study our actions and then follow suit. If a child does not show respect to elders, we can be sure that he/she has seen some of us behaving disrespectfully towards those persons. If a child does not show sympathy and consideration towards other children, we can be sure that we have not set examples of sympathy & fellow-consideration in the vicinity of the child. It is impossible to invoke moral behavior in the child while we exhibit corrupt practices ourselves.
    5. Consumption of intoxicants among adolescents in Arunachal Pradesh must be given serious thought by both teachers and parents. Children are too susceptible for addictions. The Arunachali society, which is undergoing a transition, must urgently bring in certain checks & measures to prevent sale of intoxicants to minors. Teachers must regularly explain to the child the terrible consequences of substance abuse on the tender organs of the growing child.

 

Sympathetic teachers-Arunachal’s need of the hour:

True education boils down to presenting persons of high character, in the form of teachers, before the child during its schooling period. Especially for the Arunachali child, we need teachers, who can truly sympathize with the child, because the Arunachali child is typically very sensitive and has a soul of great plasticity. It is easy to find teachers who are stentorian and strict disciplinarians, whose stickler attitudes stifle the child rather than allowing it to blossom. But persons who can empathize with the child are needed in large numbers, and they are needed urgently; and once we get such persons, they must be encouraged to stick around.

This is a land of great potential in terms of human resources. Great potential also means greater responsibility in nurturing it and harnessing it.

We pray to the Lord Almighty that this immense potential finds its fullest manifestation.

 

(Swami Vedatitananda)

Principal

Academic improvement dissertation for DSE