Mahatma Gandhi- Educational Thoughts and Their Impact of Indian Education System


Mahatma Gandhi was a great leader, a practical philosopher and an educational thinker of great repute. He wanted  to establish a caste-less society free of all exploitation and racial discrimination. He used education as an instrument to achieve this purpose. His philosophy of education was an outcome of long experience of political, social and economic life of the country.

Gandhi’s Philosophy of Life

Gandhi’s philosophy of life is a combination of Idealism, Naturalism and pragmatism. Some of his philosophical ideals are given below:

  1. His Belief in God: To Gandhi, God is all pervasive reality. Like an idealist, he believed that it is that indefinable something which we all feel but which we do not know. To Gandhi God is Truth and Love. He is the source of light and life.
  2. Human Unity: Gandhi advocated human unity. He experienced that the same light pervades in all the persons. He realized unity in diversity Truth : Truth is the supreme principle to Gandhi.
  3. Truth: It is the supreme principle to Gandhi. God can be realized only through truth, He said, “God is Truth and Truth is God.” The basis of the whole life should be Truth.
  4. Non-Violence: Gandhi regarded Ahimsa as the only means to the realization of truth and God. He explained; “Ahimsa and Truth are so interwined that it is practically impossible to separate them. Ahimsa is a positive attitude. It gives strength of spirit.
  5. Universal Love: Universal love is the core of Gandhian Philosophy. He believed that the true religion of man was the religion of love. His love attained the form of universal love.
  6. Brotherhood of Man: Gandhiji was not an egoist seeker after truth. His motto was, “Thou Shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’. He has firm faith in the concept of brotherhood of man and Fatherhood of God. His dream was to establish a community of free persons with the barriers of caste, colour, creed, wealth and power.
  7. Service of Humanity: The highest creed of Gandhi’s philosophy of. life was service of God through services of humanity. For Gandhi, God lives in the temple of humanity. He stated, “I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country.
  8. Fearlessness: Fearlessness means freedom from all external fears. Gandhi believed that only fearless person can practice truth and ahimsa.

Like every great philosopher, Gandhi also tried to translate his philosophy into practice As a true philosopher, he could not help being an educator. His object was to realize his ideal of a spiritual society as a stepping stone to the realization of Cod be truth.

Gandhi’s Educational Philosophy

Gandhiji’s philosophy of education forms the dynamic side of his general philosophy of life. His philosophy of education comprises all the essential elements which any good philosophy of education should possess. It is not mere empty theorizing about education.

On the other hand it is critical educational thinking based on philosophy, biology and sociology, It formulates educational aims and objectives clearly, thus determining the methodology, plan of organisation and choice of subject-matter. To Gandhiji, education is a potent force for social reconstruction. It is an activity which is necessary for social, moral, political and economic progress.

Meaning of Education

Gandhi was an idealist, a pragmatist and a naturalist. On the basis of his background, he gives the meaning of education as; “By education, I mean an all-round drawing of the best in child and man-body, mind and spirit. Literacy is not which can educate man and woman.” His conception of education stands for harmonious development of all aspects of human personality-Physical, Intellectual and Spiritual and so on.

Salient Features of Educational Philosophy of Gandhi

  1. A New Concept of Education: Gandhiji means education as the development of human personality. His scheme of education is known as Basic Education. It is life-centered. It is education of life, through life and for life. It prepares a person for effective and successful living in real life problems and situations.
  2. Practical Nature of Education: Gandhiji introduced craft centered education, which is the main under current of modern system of education. He knows that all subjects cannot be taught-through hard-work. He had great-faith in creative self-expression, practical work and learning by doing. Thus, Gandhiji combined in himself the vision of complete and practical man.
  3. Education for Citizenship: The scheme of education advocated by Gandhiji aims at developing citizenship in the pupils.
  4. Psychological Sound: Gandhi’s scheme of basic education is psycho-logically sound. It is based upon the fact that the education structure should be planned making the child its center.
  5. Sociologically Sound: Gandhian Scheme of education is sociologically sound. It fosters group life and builds social qualities among students. It provides them better understanding of social life and its problems.
  6. Sound Teaching Techniques: The methods and techniques of teaching in Gandhian Education are very sound.

Aims of Education According to Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi prescribes the following aim of education:

  1. Self-Supporting: Gandhiji wanted that education should individual to become self-supporting in his later life. Education able individual to earn his living independently. lie said, ” impart education and at the same time cut at the root of unemployment.”
  2. Character Building: Gandhiji laid emphasis on character-build iii; an aim of education. Character-building implies cultivation of moral values such as courage, righteousness, self-restraint and service of humanity.
  3. Culture: Gandhi emphasized culture and its preservation and enhancement as an important aim of education. He advocated that vocational education and cultural education should go side by side. Culture main foundation and essential part of education.
  4. All Round Development: All Round Development : Gandhiji wanted to develop the whole man through education. He wanted to train the hand, heart and head of the child. Thus, he emphasized on ‘3H’S instead of three R’s. This aim of education has the support of all the modern progressive educationists like Dewey, Tagore, Pastalozzi, and others. By all sound education, Gandhi means the education of heart head body and spirit.
  5. Cultivation of Higher Values of Life: Gandhiji laid greater stress on the cultivation of moral spiritual, social, ethical and aesthetic values. Like an idealist, he emphasized self-restraint, self-realization, self-insight and self-analysis. Gandhiji thus established a balance between individual development and social harmony, spiritual and material outlook and physical and intellectual development of an individual as the aim of education.

Curriculum and Gandhi’s Scheme of Education

Gandhiji devised a scheme of education which is known as “Basic scheme of Education”. Its curriculum is activity-centered. He suggested the following subjects to be included in the curriculum:

  1. Basic Craft : Gandhi prescribed productive craft as the medium of education. He suggested the inclusion of a number of crafts such as spinning and weaving, agriculture, gardening, woodwork and teacher work.
  2. Mother-tongue: Elementary education should be given through the medium of the mother-tongue. Therefore, the proper teaching of mother-tongue should be foundation of all education.
  3. Other Subjects: Gandhi suggested that other subjects that other subjects such as social studies, General Science, Art, Music and Drawing should be included in the curriculum. He suggested Home-Science for gifts.

Gandhi wanted to brings a silent social revolution through a balanced curriculum as described above. This will encourage self-activity rather than rote memory on the part of the pupils. Inclusion of basic crafts which make it unique and work-oriented curriculum.

Gandhi and Methods of Teaching

Gandhi taught his own children for sometime. From his teaching, he experienced that the essence of good teaching is stimulating the energy of children. In this way, the learning would take place in a natural way and lead the children towards harmonious development. In fact, Basic Education is a technique of teaching in itself. It has recognized the main contribution of science of pedagogy. Gandhiji recommended the following methods of teaching.

  1. The medium of instruction to be mother-tongue.
  2. Teaching through creative and productive activities.
  3. Learning by doing
  4. Productive craft as the basis of all education
  5. Learning by living, service and participation, self-experience.
  6. Correlation of valid technique of teaching
  7. Lecture, questioning and discussion methods.

In short, Gandhiji stressed on the principle of co-operative activity, planning, initiative and individual responsibility in learning/education.

Concept of Discipline and Gandhi

Gandhiji thought that the highest form of discipline came through self-control and self-discipline. Discipline is based on discipline of mind, thought and action. It is inner discipline which is more important.It springs from within. Therefore like naturalists, Gandhi also advocated freedom for the child. His concept of discipline was in time  with social discipline. Main aim of education is to make pupils the useful and responsible citizens of their country. Thus, Gandhi gave us the concept ‘voluntary discipline’  which is a synthesis between freedom and strict control.

Gandhi’s View About Teacher

Gandhiji was a great teacher himself. He wanted right type of teachers who are dedication to their profession. They are ready to serve the illiterate masses. Teachers are responsible for shaping the personalities of their students. Therefore, they must be well-trained men of knowledge, enthusiasm, faith and committed to the profession of teaching pupils. They must also be men of high character and nationalist in outlook.

Other Aspects of Gandhi’s Educational Philosophy

Gandhiji believed that  education should enable each individual child to exercise his rights and duties intelligently. ‘The craft-centered education will enable the citizen to repay society for all the rights confessed on him in the form of of some productive service’. His basic scheme of education aims at turning out useful productive citizens rather than parasites whose attitude towards work is unhealthy.

Other aspects of Gandhi’s educational philosophy are free and compulsory education for 7 years and the emphasis on mother-tongue to be used as medium of instruction. Both these aspects need to be appreciated because they will help in realising the objectives of education as laid down by Gandhiji.

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