Chapter 7: Total Education
Childhood is the most pleasant and amazing opportunity for love to grow in children. But we waste and destroy that time in teaching them mathematics and teaching them geography and the foolishnesses of history. What is the purpose of it all? If the child does not know much of geography, there is no great harm in it, and if the child does not learn the names of mad people like Akbar and Napoleon and Alexander, it makes no difference at all. If the child does not learn the statistics of which people have killed how many people, that makes no difference. And to teach them the nonsense of which emperor was born in what year and died in what year neither is there any meaning nor any significance in it. But all those moments in the child’s life which were for developing love get wasted in teaching him all these stupidities.
Are you aware that all your love after childhood becomes false and empty and deceptive? There is a basic difference between the love you felt for someone in your childhood and the love you felt for someone when you had become adult. That sacredness of childhood love, once it is lost if that innocence is once lost to regain it in life becomes very arduous, almost impossible.
The whole capacity of childhood should be devoted to the development of love, not to the development of intellect, because the palace of life that is erected on the foundations of childhood love, only that can attain to bliss. Bliss has no relationship whatsoever with intellect. But we put intellect in the very foundation, then the building that arises is not a temple but a factory. If man’s life is to be made into a factory, the building should arise on the foundation of intellect. And if man’s life is to be made into a temple, the foundations should be laid in love.
All of childhood should be given to the development of the heart, all efforts should be made for the development of the heart. And for the development of the heart quite different opportunities are to be sought, not the opportunities we seek in the schools and colleges. For the development of the heart it is necessary that the child be under the open sky, near the trees, under the shelter of the moon and stars, at the river banks and sea shores, in contact with the soil, the earth. The closer the child to the vast, the more love will grow in him, and the sense and meaning of beauty will develop.
The crime that is being done against small children sitting within closed walls in front of blackboards the sin that is happening this way, someday, if not today then tomorrow, mankind will take account of it and we all will be declared guilty.
Before they have hardly gathered any consciousness, in the name of education we imprison children within closed rooms and walls, in prisons. And what do we teach them there? What values of life do we teach them there? Then the wonderful moments of childhood, when the contact with life could have been established, are lost.
Rabindranath has written, “I was being imprisoned in the schools. The birds would be singing songs outside and I had to go on looking at the blackboard. The sounds of the birds would be wonderful, but I had to listen just to the monotonous voice of the teacher and learn geography. If my ears and my being reached out to the birds, I had to undergo punishment.”