Learning from Nature

The origin of the word education comes from the Latin word “educare”; meaning “to draw out”, to draw out something that is within.

Education” is a process of shaping the mind through external sources. “Educare” is a process of shaping the mind through internal source; it’s about tapping into the source of wisdom each of us carries within.

Author: Brigita Laykovich – interview with Satish Kumar; founder of The Small School, co-founder of Schumacher College and Editor of Resurgence and Ecologist

Rabindranth Tagore was one of the greatest scholars who  placed the greatest value on nature as our most important teacher, which has been taken away from classrooms and replaced with abstract lessons, that cuts the stream of ideas directly from nature. “Education should revolve around nature, classes should be held in the open air, under a tree, with connection to the plants, animals and changes of the season. Students should spend lots of time learning from the nature” (Tagore).

He believed nature to be the greatest of all teachers. He saw this concept being thwarted at every step by the human teacher who believes in machine-made lessons rather than life lessons. Through such actions he saw the growth of the child’s mind injured and forcibly spoiled.

Tagore believed in education which takes count of the organic wholeness of human individuality that needs for its health a general stimulation to all its faculties, mental and bodily. He introduced an active vigour of work activities (such as cooking, weaving, gardening, improving their surroundings, rendering services to others), knowing that the joyous exercise of inventive and constructive energies help to build up the character. This approach brought a strong sense of reality.

The greatest success for Tagore was to see pupils perceive education as a permanent part of the adventure of life. Education was not a painful hospital treatment for curing them of the congenital malady of their ignorance, but a function of health and the natural expression of their mind’s vitality.

“An ideal educational institution should be a perpetual creation by the cooperative enthusiasm of teachers and students, growing with the growth of their soul; a world in itself: self-sustaining, independent, rich with ever renewing life, radiating life across space and time, attracting and maintaining round it a planetary system of dependent bodies. Its aim should be in imparting life-breath to the complete man, who is intellectual, as well as economic: bound by social bonds, but aspiring towards spiritual freedom and final perfection” (Tagore).

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