Timeless lessons from Mahatma Gandhi on education

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“The law of love could be best understood and learned through little children…”

– Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi: Author, Freedom Fighter, Father.

Hero, social activist, zealot, lobbyist, an advocate of peace: his efforts earned him different monikers and adjectives around the world. Some know him as Mahatma—the good soul, others as the architect of the Indian Independence Movement—a revolution that freed Indians from the tyrannous British rule.

To the world, he was a lawyer, politician and national leader. He is the man who inspired prodigies, such as, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and many more. But, for children, he is just ‘Bapu’—a father, whose love for kids was deep and abiding.

Believing that children were “the Flowers of God’s Garden” Gandhi Ji doted on them. He accepted their innocent souls, got down to their level, interacted with them, and taught them valuable lessons in the pretext of play.

Every year on his birth anniversary that falls on 2nd October, the world remembers him as the “Father of India.” We treasure him as an affectionate father, who was deeply concerned about the well-being of kids, not just in India, but all over the world.

Not many of us know that Mahatma Gandhi was one of the pioneers of educational reform in the Indian society. He wanted to amend the existing education system to empower fundamental and functional learning. Gandhi Ji believed that the core knowledge of the subjects is incomplete without teaching basic life skills to students.

This Gandhi Jayanti, we explore five famous quotes on children by Mahatma Gandhi that compelled us to rethink about education and learning.

“Basic education links the children, whether of the cities or the villages, to all that is best and lasting in India.”

Education should be used as a tool for changing the world. The basic purpose of education is to connect all human beings, irrespective of their colour, caste, creed, etc. and bring them into the mainstream of development through dissemination of truth and advancement of knowledge. He believed that children are like mirrors, and we, as adults should make efforts to ‘turn mirrors into windows.’

“I consider writing as fine art. We kill it by imposing the alphabet on little children and making it the beginning of learning.”

The roots of education go deeper. Literary education, especially writing, is an art of capturing free-flowing thoughts on paper. It is what distinguishes humans from beasts. It is not the handicraft to be taught mechanically. On the contrary, it is a scientific learning process. The child must be told ‘why’ and ‘wherefore’ of every word he writes, or it kills the entire objective of education.

“By education, I mean an all-round drawing of the best in child and man in body, mind and spirit.”

The purpose of education is to enable learning. Learning is never cumulative, but a continuous process that aims at making kids the best version of themselves by helping them recognise and whet their talents, develop skills and grow a mind of their own. Learning covers all-round development—physical, mental, emotional and ethical. We cannot accomplish the primary objective of education by working in silos, on different aspects.

“Experience gained in two schools under my control has taught me that punishment does not purify, if anything, it hardens children.”

Punishing a child doesn’t enable him to learn. The purpose of disciplining a kid is to teach, not to punish. Teaching a child will help him pinpoint and solve problems, but punishing him is like making him suffer for those problems. It will give birth to retribution. To raise ‘problem solvers’ we must shift our focus from punishments to solutions.

“The greatest lessons in life, if we would but stoop and humble ourselves, we would learn not from the grown-up learned men, but from the so-called ignorant children.”

Children, being innocent, humble and honest can teach us valuable lessons on ethics and moral values that sometimes we, as adults, fail to understand. They teach us the three basic principles of living life: to be genuinely happy, to be curious and to fight for a purpose. It is never too late to learn. We just need to learn how to learn.

Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of being the change that we wish to see, stands true for every stakeholder in a child’s development. Let us join hands to build a better future for our younger generations. Together, we can gently shake the world with the power of education.

The Infinity School wishes you a Happy Gandhi Jayanti!

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