Mahatma was one person whose ideologies and principles are relevant even today in spite of the fact that he was basically a politician who loved his country to the very core of his heart. For Gandhi, politics was a means to ensure that achieve independence but it was not his profession. Gandhi had very specific and distinct ideas of education and was of the opinion that education led to the true realization of self. According to Gandhi education was a process of learning and comparing both learning and living he said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
The Mahatma did not consider education to be a process by which one became literate. Gandhi considered literacy to be a means to gaining education. He wanted education for the masses of his country because he felt only then would they be truly free from all bondage. Whether it was bondage under the British rule or bondage to some habits, bondage to other human beings or any other kind of bondage, education helped man to be free from this servitude and gave man the strength and courage to live life with his head held high. Gandhi considered education to be able to draw out the best from the learner. He said “By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit.”
Though it was true that Gandhi wanted the British rule to end, he did respect the good things that the British brought with them one of which was the British style of education. He appreciated the fact that the quality of education they imparted helped them to gain the power needed for them to establish themselves as rulers of other nations. Gandhi himself was a result of British education which he undertook in England where he went to study law. Though he had great regard for modern education he despised the model of education that is followed in the modern times that required the student to focus more on scores and less on the knowledge and learning. Gandhi was very particular that the learner should be able to build his character, enhance his decision making skills, empower him the ability to recognize the good from the bad and encourage rational thinking. Gandhi opined that “Character cannot be built with mortar and stone. It cannot be built by hands other than your own. An education which does not teach us to discriminate between good and bad, to assimilate the one and eschew the other, is a misnomer.”
Gandhi was very strict about his views on punishment as a means of correcting or reforming a child. With regards to punishment Gandhi said “that punishment does not purify, if anything, it hardens children.” He felt that by the process of holistic education, a child will understand what is right and follow the path of righteousness and hence punishment will not be necessary. Mahatma Gandhi’s love for children is well-known and children lovingly referred to him as “Bapuji” making him the “Father of the Nation”. Hence he had very noble views on how to impart education to the children to whom he was very close.
Gandhi respected the natural curiosity in a child and felt that it was this curiosity that led to true learning. This fact is evident in his statement when he says “Persistent questioning and healthy inquisitiveness are the first requisite for acquiring learning of any kind.” For Gandhi, the fact that a child is curious to know and to gain knowledge or is in search of knowledge is by itself a learning process as the child goes through various experiences in that search.
Gandhi never really encouraged text book learning but said that education should be such that it encourages the learner to live a good and healthy mind, body and soul.
( Educationist with more than 15 years expeience in India and Abroad. Presently He is serving the cause of education in Tanzania. You can send your responses to him at firstname.lastname@example.org)