August 12, 2006

The concept of Integral education

Integral education would not only aim at the integral development of personality, but it would also embrace all knowledge in its scope. It would pursue physical and psychical sciences not merely to know the world and Nature in her processes and to use them for material human needs, but to know through them the Spirit in the world and the ways of the Spirit in its appearances. It would study ethics in order, not only to search for the good as the mind sees it, but also to perceive the supra-ethical Good.
Similarly, it would pursue Art not merely to present images of the subjective and the objective world, but to see them with significant and creative vision that goes behind their appearances and to reveal the supra-rational Truth and Beauty. It would encourage the study of humanities, not in order to foster a society as a background for a few luminous spiritual figures to that the many necessarily remain for ever on the lower ranges of life, but to inspire the regeneration of the total life of the earth and to encourage voluntary optimism for that regeneration in spite of all previous failures. Finally, it would encourage unity of knowledge and harmony of knowledge, and it would strive to foster the spirit of universality and oneness.
An important characteristic of integral education is its insistence on simultaneous development of Knowledge, Will, Harmony, and Skill as also of all the parts of the being to the extent possible from the earliest stages of education. And since each individual child is unique in the composition of its qualities and characteristics, its capacities and potentialities, its predominant inclinations and propensities, integral education in its practice tends to become increasingly individualized. Again, for this very reason the methods of education become increasingly dynamic, involving active participation of the child in its own growth. Sri Aurobindo speaks of three principles of teaching, and they all need to be fully implemented in the practice of integral education. Sri Aurobindo states:
"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. … The second principle is that the mind has to be consulted in its own growth. The idea of hammering the child into the shape desired by the parent or teacher is a barbarous and ignorant superstition. It is he himself who must be induced to expand in accordance with his own nature. … 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 third principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be. … A free and natural growth is the condition of genuine development. …"
These principles, when implemented, provide a basis of a system of a natural organisation of the highest processes and the movements of which the human nature is capable. The first task of the teacher is to observe every child and to develop dynamic methods by which the child can be lifted up in its totality into a higher light which can sharpen, chisel, purify, perfect and transform every part of the being in a state of constant balance and integrity. This would mean application of every possible method even to the minutest details and to the action which may seem most insignificant in their appearances with as much care and thoroughness as to the greatest. For there is nothing too small to be used and nothing too great to be attempted.

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