Methods of Teaching and Place of Teacher in Education According to Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda did not make deliberate and specific suggestions about what subjects should be taught in the school, in what way, and what the place of the teacher should be in education.

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However, it is possible to draw inferences about these aspects of education from his philosophy.

Approach to curriculum


Vivekananda held that all knowledge secular or spiritual is in the human mind. Man only discovers it within himself. It is pre­existing and is manifested in man. Knowledge is eternal.

Like fire being present in the wood, it is pre-existing in the human mind. It does not come from outside. It is all inside. Man only brings it out, discovers or unveils. Soul is reservoir of all knowledge.

Man takes the cover of the soul and finds that all knowledge is there. “All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from mind, the infinite library of the universe is in your mind. The external world is only the suggestion, the occasion which sets you to study your own mind.

The falling of an apple gave the suggestion to Newton and he studied his own mind. He rearranged all the previous links of thought in his mind and discovered a new link among them, which we call the law of gravitation.


It was neither in the apple nor in anything in the centre of the earth.” Thus, Vivekananda considered the curriculum just as the massive suggestion, a series of stimulations only to bring out what is there in the mind of the child.

All subjects, studies and activities should be treated as a series of stimuli. These, according to him may constitute his cultural heritage found in the form of history, art, poetry, paintings, Vedas, Upanishads, sacred books of all religions, language, stories about India’s glorious past.

He was an idealist and a spiritualist and, hence, emphasized teaching-learning of such subjects which could be the powerful source of the development of higher values and child’s character. But, on the other hand, being a staunch nationalist and an aspirant for nation’s economic progress and prosperity emphasized teaching of science and its all branches.

He was in favor of Western technology and engineering being taught in Indian institutions as it was necessary, through them to eradicate poverty from the society.


He was of the opinion that the schools should produce self-reliant individuals who can earn their living after finishing their education. Hence, it seems, he suggested that vocational courses should also form a part of curriculum crafts may be taught along with other subjects. The curriculum for girls may include “needlecraft, cookery, child-rearing, and other useful subjects.

Methods of Teaching

With regard to teaching methods Vivekananda was of the view that children should be made to learn themselves. As all knowledge is within them and learning is only a function of their mind, they should only be made active.

The teacher and the curricula should act only as stimuli. This shows that he was against child’s cramming of pieces of information. The child should not be a passive recipient of knowledge.

Discussions with the teacher were considered most important a method of teaching-learning by him.

Meditation and concentration were also considered important by him as through them developed the mental powers of the child.

It was also emphasized by him that the teacher should encourage children and develop in them self-confidence for learning.

Thus, along with the teaching the teacher was advised to develop in children those qualities which are necessary for learning. The learner must be able to control the internal and external senses. He should control his lower nature and concentrate on learning.

The contribution of Sri Aurobindo to educational philosophy and educational practice

Born in Calcutta and educated in England from the age of 7 years to 21 years Aurobindo was a top notch idealist, a unique philosopher who attempted to synthesize matter and spirit, science of the West and Vadanta of the East.

To him the aim of life was to attain ‘Divinity” through “Integral Yoga” (development of inner self) and Dharma” (perfection of Outer life).

He said that every living being a form, a part of the Universal Consciousness and one can come ‘”to contact with this “true” self through yoga and meditation. His assumption about life was that divinity in potential from is inherent in some amount in every individual.

Realization of that is the goal to which education should contribute. Following are said to be contributions of Sri Aurobindo to educational philosopher:

(i) Meaning and Aims of Education

Though not much is spoken about education by Sri Aurobindo, significant ideas may be aired about education from his philosophy. Since he was a spiritualist who saw everything in the universe rooted in the soul they wanted education also to be rooted in the soul and “founded on the rock of the Divine”, aiming at the purity and spiritualization of human life.

Thus the aim of education according to Sri Aurobindo seems to be spiritual development of the individual and the society both. The spiritual aim “regards man not as a mind, a life, and a body, but as a soul seeking for divine fulfillment.” Education, to him, must lead the individual to realize that “it is the some supreme force that is active in the universe.

He held that physical science being necessarily in complete in the range of its inquiry cannot help much in understanding the occult movements of the Force. Hence, he seems to have been in favour of spiritual education all through the human life.

Spiritual development of the individual was emphasized by Sri Aurobindo. Education could be a tool for this development. Knowledge was unavoidable in this context. But, all these could not be the end in themselves. Education, knowledge and its related aspects were considered only the means for the ultimate fulfillment of the individual.

He said emphatically that the individual should learn not to mutilate or destroy his “ego”, but should learn to expand it out of its limitations and lose it in something greater.

Thus, to Aurobindo education is not only for the individual and his developments. Individual development was, perhaps, seen by him as a means of the development of the total mankind. He said that the individual should “learn to fulfill himself in the fulfillment of mankind”.

He wanted that human society, human friendship, love, affection, fellow feeling all must have spiritual basis, a pure foundation instead of being founded on the ego.

This requires, according to Sri Aurobindo, a “transmutation of the very substance of human nature.” Education must play an effective role in this transmutation.

“The first natural aim of the individual must be his own inner growth and fullness and its expression in his outer life; but this he can only accomplish through his relations with other individuals and the humanity at large.

This view of Sri Aurobindo emphasized the ideal of human unity. It may be inferred from this that education should aim at the development of the total humanity by developing each individual separately. The individual and the whole mankind can never be separated for achieving this objective.

Sri Aurobindo emphasize five aspects of education each relating to a specific aspect or human personality. These are physical education, education of the vital, mental education psychic and spiritual education. They are complimentary to one another and should be taken up simultaneously. This is known as the principle of integral education.

(ii) Contribution to Human Development

Another contribution of Sri Aurobindo was in the field of human evolution, upward movement of man from matter to spirit. To grow is the inner urge of the Divined in every one.

Sri Aurobindo firmly stood for the change in man from the vital and the mental to the spiritual order of life, transference of man’s centre of living to a higher consciousness, so as to enable him “to become himself’, “to exceed himself’, to realize that he is divine potentially.

The secret of this evolution is to Sri Aurobindo, is not the intellect and will; rather it is the spirit which is higher than the reason. He calls this development a form of free- self-rule, a development from within rather Than a repression of his dynamic and vital being from without. Through “Yoga” (Integrated Yoga) of Sri Aurobindo this upward ascent of the individual may be possible.

The law for the individual, according to Sri Aurobindo, is to perfect his individuality by free development from within. Education should be made an effective tool for promoting this process of human evolution.

(iii) Contributing to Principles of Teaching

Sri Aurobindo said that nothing can be taught. This principle implies that learning and knowledge are a function of child’s own will and effort. Nothing can be imposed on him from outside. Hence, instead of teaching, it should be child’s own self-learning.

He again, suggested that teaching should mean only to provide the most relevant experiences and most conducive environment to the child which can cater to his physical, mental, social, moral and spiritual development.

Freedom to think for himself, freedom to realize what therealty is freedom to experiment with the Truth should essentially be allowed to the child. This is the greatest principle of teaching- learning.

(iv) Contribution to Curriculum Development

Though specific suggestions about should be included in the curriculum have nowhere learn made by Sri Aurobindo inferences about this can be drawn from what is being followed at the Ashram School at Pondicherry.

The curriculum includes physical and health education, teaching of academic subjects, vocational education, cultural activities, psychic and spiritual studies, education for international understanding. The emphasis, however, is on moral and spiritual development.

(v) Views about the Teacher

About the teacher’s place in child’s education Sri Aurobindo position was that of a pragmatist. He had to be there very much on the scene but only as a guide, a helper. He is not there to impart knowledge, but only to help the child know how he can perfect his instruments of knowledge. He helps the child in knowing what knowledge is and how he can acquire that.

To sum up, the whole purpose of his teachings was “that man can achieve an extension of consciousness beyond the mental principle he will continue to be trapped by the dilemmas which beset him.

“Education, to him, must prepare the individual for this transformation.”Integral Yoga” was suggested by him to be the most practical and effective way of child’s education for this purpose. It is only in Yoga that the psychological knowledge essential for attaining extension of consciousness and divine life exists.

The philosophy of Rabindra Nath Tagore (Its implications in education)

Rabindra Nath Tagore was born on 7th May, 1861 at Calcutta. He was the fourteenth of the fifteen children of his parents.

He had unhappy schooling. He composed poems till his death on 7th August, 1941.

He own Nobel Prize in Poetry. He was a great thinker also.

His philosophy

Tagore as an individualist, naturalist, Idealist, humanist-all these rolled into one. We shall presently examine his philosophy.

1. Tagore as Individualist

Tagore was out and out an individualist. He believed in the right and freedom of the individual to shape his life as the individual desired. Everyone knows that no two individuals are alike-so why bind all of them with the same rope? It was thus in the development of the individual that Tagore wanted the unity of the mankind.

With the development of the individual the Creator will be realised by the individual. Some of us are likely to misunderstand Tagore. The development of individual is compatible with the growth of the social units! This “is not to be forgotten.

2. Harmony with all Things

The basic principle of the philosophy of Tagore is “harmony with all things,” harmony with nature, harmony with human surroundings and harmony in international relations. The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but attains our life in harmony with all existence.

3. Tagore as Naturalist

Tagore’s naturalism is based on the Indian belief in fundamental unity of creation and man’s kinship with nature. The essential fact is that this world has a vital meaning for us and we have to know it, was connote ignore it; we have to establish a contact with it.

This way, we shall be happy. When a man does not realize his kinship with the world, Tagore says, “He lives in a prison house whose walls are alien to him.” He loved nature immensely- the moon, the stars, the hills. Nature had deeply moved him-had stirred the poet in him.

4. Tagore as Spiritualist (Spiritualism of Tagore)

Tagore’s naturalism as described above, paves the way for spiritualism. Music is an aid to the process. He started the Shantiniketan School to give spiritual culture to Indians. His belief was that every Indian should attain spiritual perfection.

5. Tagore’s Humanism

According to Dr. R.L. Ahuja, the humanism of Tagore has two aspects: the actuality of individual joy and suffering, and the reality of a world-culture of humanity as its background.

He worked unwearyingly, to relieve the distress due to food and famine in his own villages of Bengal. Equally untiringly did he endeavor to spread to the four comers of the world the message of the coming together of the races of mankind, of universal humanity?

(i) Tagore’s Conception of God is also human

To quote him, “He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the path maker is breaking stone.” This is the high point in Tagore’s philosophy.

(ii) Tagore’s Conception of Universe is purely human

All values have their origin in man. Truth is realised through man. Beauty is felt as such by man. He says, “Reality is human and even Truth is human.

6. Tagore and Cultural Cosmopolitanism or Internationalism

Rabindranath Tagore was an internationalist. He looked at the world as a whole. He was for unity of mankind and its brotherhood. He hated distinctions, made on caste, creed, and sex. He was for the unity of soul between East and West.

Thus in conformity with his culture and philosophy, he advocated a synthesis between East and West, so that the East should give its best to the West arid in return assimilate the best that Western civilization can give it. He faced the both-East and West. He was grateful to both-East and West. His University is “Visva Bharti”. It is very much international.

7. He believed in spontaneous expression and creativity of the child. This again supports the first point in the philosophy- individualism.

8. Tagore believed in truth; beauty, peace and non-violence. He was also a lover of art, painting and music.

Educational Philosophy of Tagore

His educational philosophy sprang up from two sources:

(a) Hatred towards school.

(b) Love of nature.

To quote, “Tagore’s philosophy of education is therefore, a result of the memory of his school days, when the school resembled an educational factory, lifeless, colorless, and dissociated from the context of universe, within base white walls staring like the eye balls of the dead.”

His contributors revolve round the two above.

Concept of education of Rabindra Nath Tagore

Education to be real must be of the whole man, of the emotions and the senses as much as of the intellect. Man in the fullness, said Tagore, is not limited by the individual but overflows in his community.

And so in his school, along with training in individual initiative and self-reliance, equal emphasis was laid on community service.

Nor is education a plant that can be made to grow as an exotic variety in the hot house. If it does not strike roots in the soil and adapt itself to the natural environments, it has little value for the people as a whole.

In short, education according to Tagore meant development of the individual. It meant enrichment of personality and education should be Indian one and not borrowed from the West.

Aims of education according Rabindra Nath Tagore

The aims of education according to Tagore are:

1. Emancipation and Perfection of Man

About this Tagore says, “The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” He aims at the emancipation of man from all kinds of bondages.

He aims at perfection not only of body or mind but also that of soul. It is the fullest growth and freedom of soul. In order to achieve that aim in his endeavors he makes education as broad based as possible.

2. Moral Development

Of the child is the second aim of education according to Tagore. Tagore attached for more significance to moral values in education than for mere results of science which produced a system and physical power.

3. Unity of Truth

Another object of education, according to Tagore, was that of giving man the unity of truth. He says that Physical, intellectual and spiritual life are one and we must give this ‘dead to the children. This way harmony will prevail and when we do not do this, there is a break between the intellectual, physical and spiritual life.

4. Education should develop international outlook is another aim .

5. Education should be Creative

Tagore does not want to be mere informative but desires that it should be creative also. He says, “The great use of education is not merely to collect facts, but to know man and to make oneself known to man.”

Of course, education is to develop one physically. It should be utilitarian too.


Tagore was a naturalist and also an idealist and he wants things of beauty and nice virtues to be taught in the curriculum. He lays stress on those subjects who make a child full and rich in knowledge. He also wants them to appreciate truth, beauty and goodness.

This guides us towards the curriculum. Subjects recommended by him to be taught are: History, geography, nature study, language, and science. Activities or finer subjects will include music, art, poetry, dancing, and dramatics.

He was very particular about Music and Drama. Music is essence of life and drama releases the children’s tensions and anxieties.

Methods of Teaching of Rabindranath Tagore


Rabindranath Tagore does not believe in routine methods of teaching. He broke new ground in the methodology of teaching. His belief is not in routine methods of teaching.

Even at the outset, to quote Dr. R.S. Maini, when he opened his new school, he declared that the ordinary routine methods of teaching were not to be expected in his institution.

To quote Tagore, “Those who still require an artificial method of feeding in their lessons, who need constant watching and goading from their teachers, will find themselves out of place in Vishwa Bharti.”

He rejected mechanical methods of teaching. These methods were uninspiring. Tagore wanted the boys to progress at their own rate without being goaded by others. Tagore points out, “When I was young I gave up learning and ran away from my lessons.

That saved me and I owe all that I possess today to that courageous step taken when I was young. I fled the classes which gave the instructions, but which did not inspire. One thing I have gained, sensitivity to the touch of life and of nature who speak to me.

Teacher in Emerging Indian Society

Secondly, it is activity method. He wants teaching-learning to be a joyous adventure, full of thrills, wonders, and surprises. It could be Heuristic approach. Let the child find out through activity.

It is also sense training through and through. It is also naturalness in teaching. School is not to be a factory and learning has got to be enjoyable.

His approach is Gestalt approach. He believes that children learn their lessons with the aid of their whole body and mind, with all the senses fully active and eager. He thus believes whole methods of teaching rather than in part methods.

He also believes that child’s mind is quite sensitive and it will pick up things of its own.


Tagore does not want that we should be harsh to children. They should be treated with all sympathy and consideration. Discipline was never, in fact, a serious problem for Tagore.

Tagore says that if the atmosphere is good, discipline problems will not arise. It is only control that breeds in scandals and indiscipline so where there is freedom-no question of indiscipline. He also believes in self-discipline. He wants children to experiment but not in indiscipline manner.

Tagore recognizes that the boys are full of enthusiasm and when they find opportunities for self-expression, they may be little uncontrollable. He could rather enjoy the children expressing themselves freely in their outbursts of playful spirit which may seem uncontrollable, but not tolerate the repression of the child with any freedom to expand.

Therefore, after analyzing the psychological cause of indiscipline, he gave the children unrestricted freedom to do whatever they liked. This way, many psychological complexes are eliminated and “naughtiness” seldom occurs.

Further, man should be disciplined through art. Tagore discovered that the secret of maintaining discipline lies in the development of integrated personality. It is basically discipline of freedom.

Role of Teacher

Role of teacher is important. He is the Guru. He is to guide the students. He is to keep them on the track. He is also to keep in contact with them. Teacher is also to remain learner throughout his life. He, who fails as a learner, fails as a teacher.

Vishwa Bharti University at Shantiniketan

To give his ideas and ideals a practical shape, Tagore founded what is now known as Vishwa Bharti University at Shantiniketan (Railway Station Bolpar in West Bengal). It is an international university for Tagore believed in internationalism very much.

Vishwa Bharti means a place where universal knowledge is given or gathered. In fact, Vishwa Bharti University has grown out of an ashram founded by father (Maharishi Debendra Nath Tagore of the Brahmo Samaj Fame) of R.N. Tagore in 1863. Since 1921, it is recognized as a university. It is said that India needs more such type of universities.

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