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To educate for individuality is to allow the pupil's inner capacities to develop to their fullest extent.

The cultivation of individuality is the ultimate aim of education. To be an individual is to be responsible and self-directed, rather than prone to conform to the beliefs, actions and expectations of other people. Individuality is the foundation for original thinking, creativity, invention, innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship.

Education cultivates individuality when it is based on freedom and respect for the uniqueness of each student and strives to awaken the interest and curiosity of the student to learn, rather than the transmission of information by the teacher.

Individuality in Education

  • According to Carl Rogers, the fully functioning person develops as a result of self-discovered learning. Such educational aims and ideals cannot be achieved readily by passive attendance at lectures, however good the lecturer. Thus, a broader view of education requires a shift from the traditional lecture to active, student centered, self paced, self discovery methods of learning. This shift requires a commitment to innovation and the ability and opportunity to bring about change.
  • In the words of John Stuart Mill, "to conform to custom, merely as custom, does not educate or develop any of the qualities which are the distinctive endowment of a human being. The human faculties of perception, judgment, discriminative feeling, mental activity, and even moral preference, are exercised only in making a choice. He who does anything because it is the custom, makes no choice."
  • Education for individuality excludes imposition on the part of the teacher, shaping or molding: it requires him to let the pupil develop according to the laws of his own nature.
  • To educate for individuality is to allow the pupil's inner capacities to develop to their fullest extent.
  • Individuality as an educational aim implies creativity – the self-creation involved in giving shape to one's life.
  • Education should recognize the individual differences in interests and talents among students.
  • To cultivate one's individuality is to come to take responsibility for one’s actions, to realize that they should originate in one's own consciousness and be based on one’s own decisions, rather than be determined by conformity to the understanding and will of others.
  • Although we define an individual by his differences from others in his society, an individual can only become complete through positive relationship with the society of which he is a part. We realize our individuality through active relation with society and integrating with it.
  • Individuality is distinct from individualism. Individualism is the egoistic pursuit of one’s own perceived self-interest to the exclusion of other considerations. Individuality implies the capacity to identify with the larger society and act in a manner conducive to its progress.

Further Reading

  • Original Thinking
    Natarajan, Ashok
    The original thinker seeks original ideas. Original thinking is made possible by the prior development of thinking that organizes facts into information. The apparently insoluble problems we confront are an opportunity to formulate a comprehensive theory of social evolution. The immediate possibility is to devise complete solutions to all existing problems, if only we use the right method of thought development.