The Interface between Education and the ‘Rural Uplift Work’: Re-reading Tagore’s Letters, Lectures and Addresses

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Joyjit Ghosh

Abstract

The present paper, by taking cues from Tagore’s letters, lectures and addresses, attempts to explore that he was unconventional in his ideas of education. Nature was the best teacher for Tagore, and he adopted the model of the ‘Ashram’ of the Ancient India for the realisation of his educational ideals. An academic institution, according to Tagore, should not merely impart information to the learners. It should offer elements of culture and opportunities for studying the socio-economic condition of villages around an educational centre. Leonard Elmhirst, the famous agronomist, helped Tagore in establishing ‘Siksha Satra’ at Sriniketan where the former started rural reconstruction. Tagore shared his views of education including the ‘Visva-Bharati ideals’ with Elmhirst. Another leading intellectual who gave original ideas of university education to Tagore was Patrick Geddes. Like Tagore, Geddes also advocated for the service to the community life. Arthur Geddes, the son of Patrick Geddes, to a great extent, fulfilled the poet’s dream of uniting teachers, students and humble village workers in an organic bond of necessity. Tagore’s championing of ‘the rural uplift work’ as a part of education continues to appeal to the Twentieth Century mind.

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