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What is Education

Education is the technology for conscious social evolution.

Education is the means whereby humanity passes on to future generations in a concentrated, highly organized manner the essence of the accumulated knowledge and experience acquired over countless generations so that the next generation can start off where the last has ended, without the necessity to rediscover past knowledge.

Education is the most advanced social organization so far evolved by humanity. Education is the technology for conscious social evolution.

John Dewey on Education

“The only true education comes through the stimulation of the child's powers by the demands of the social situations in which he finds himself. Through these demands he is stimulated to act as a member of a unity, to emerge from his original narrowness of action and feeling, and to conceive of himself from the standpoint of the welfare of the group to which he belongs. Through the responses which others make to his own activities he comes to know what these mean in social terms. The value which they have is reflected back into them.”

“This educational process has two sides-one psychological and one sociological; and that neither can be subordinated to the other or neglected without evil results following. Of these two sides, the psychological is the basis. The child's own instincts and powers furnish the material and give the starting point for all education. Education, therefore, must begin with a psychological insight into the child's capacities, interests, and habits.”

“All education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race. This process begins unconsciously almost at birth, and is continually shaping the individual's powers, saturating his consciousness, forming his habits, training his ideas, and arousing his feelings and emotions. Through this unconscious education the individual gradually comes to share in the intellectual and moral resources which humanity has succeeded in getting together. He becomes an inheritor of the funded capital of civilization. The most formal and technical education in the world cannot safely depart from this general process. It can only organize it or differentiate it in some particular direction.”

Sri Aurobindo on Education

“Education’s central aim is the building of the powers of the human mind and spirit, it is the formation or, as I would prefer to view it, the evoking of knowledge and will and of the power to use knowledge, character, culture, — that at least if no more... The chief aim of education should be to help the growing soul to draw out that in itself which is best and make it perfect for a noble use.”

“The first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is not an instructor or task-master, he is a helper and a guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not actually train the pupil's mind, he only shows him how to perfect his instruments of knowledge and helps and encourages him in the process. He does not impart knowledge to him, he shows him how to acquire knowledge for himself.

He does not call forth the knowledge that is within; he only shows him where it lies and how it can be habituated to rise to the surface.”

“The third principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be. The basis of a man's nature is almost always, in addition to his soul's past, his heredity, his surroundings, his nationality, his country, the soil from which he draws sustenance, the air which he breathes, the sights, sounds, habits to which he is accustomed.”

The intellect is an organ composed of several groups of functions, divisible into two important classes, the functions and faculties of the right-hand, the functions and faculties of the left-hand. The faculties of the right-hand are comprehensive, creative and synthetic; the faculties of the left-hand critical and analytic. To the right-hand belong judgment, imagination, memory, observation; to the left-hand comparison and reasoning. The critical faculties distinguish, compare, classify, generalise, deduce, infer, conclude; they are the component parts of the logical reason. The right-hand faculties comprehend, command, judge in their own right, grasp, hold and manipulate. The right-hand mind is the master of the knowledge, the left-hand its servant. The left-hand touches only the body of knowledge, the right-hand penetrates its soul. The left-hand limits itself to ascertained truth, the right-hand grasps that which is still elusive or unascertained. Both are essential to the completeness of the human reason. These important functions of the machine have all to be raised to their highest and finest working-power, if the education of the child is not to be imperfect and one-sided.

Martin Luther King Jr. on Education

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”

Alfred North Whitehead on Education

There is only one subject-matter for education, and that is Life in all its manifestations.

Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilization of knowledge.

Carl Jung on Education

Psychoanalysis cannot be considered a method of education if by education we mean the topiary art of clipping a tree into a beautiful artificial shape. But those who have a higher conception of education will prize most the method of cultivating a tree so that it fulfils to perfection its own natural conditions of growth.

Further Reading

  • Sri Aurobindo, The Hour of God and other writings Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Library: Set in 30  volumes.- Volume 17. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1972
  • John Dewey, “My pedagogic creed,” School Journal vol. 54 (January 1897), pp. 77-80
  • Alfred North Whitehead (1967), The aims of education and other essays. New York: Free Press.
  • Carl Jung (2007), Spring, Volumes 77-78. Zurich: Spring Publications.