What is the single most important factor in the transformation of the individual and the society?
Without doubt, it is Education. But as yet, it has still not been explored to its full and utmost potential, resulting only in a fractured image and perception of what it means. To go beyond the obligatory demands from education, that is, the procurement of a job or respectable standing in society, we need to take a more integral approach.
Our series on Integral Education aspires towards this end and brings across different facets of education, all leading eventually to the desired transformation and fulfilment of the true ideal.
It is now becoming apparent to an increasing number of people all over the world that what is needed today, in the field of education, is not so much increased facilities or sophisticated equipment but a new vision of education.
The complexities and problems of our life are widening and increasing in intensity day by day; hence there is an urgent need to re-evaluate today's educational principles, psychological understandings and goals.
The quest for a new approach to education must begin with a radical reappraisal of the aims and values of the present system. Through the ages various aims have come into prominence and given rise to various systems of education. Some have laid stress on knowledge of the external world or Nature, on environmental or social adaptation. Some others on development of skills, on preparation for a career and the life of a good citizen. All these are undoubtedly legitimate aims of education. But the crucial question is whether these aims correspond to the higher aims of life. For after all should not the aims of education be conterminous with the highest aims of life? As the Mother points out, "on the quality of your aim will depend the quality of your life."
The famous maxim of the ancient Delphic oracle -"Know thyself' - is one of the recognised purposes of the ancient systems of education. And there cannot be a more fundamentally obvious and practical aim in life than to know oneself, for self-knowledge and self-mastery are the only sure and secure basis for the mastery of the outer environment.
Another important factor which often seems to be missing in our modern systems of education is the emphasis on "values". When we study the life and history of individuals and civilisations, we see that it is not skills but values which are the intangible guiding forces of evolution. And the source and fount of the deepest and highest values in man is neither his mind, nor his emotional being, not even his ethical being but the Spirit within him. It is only in the consciousness of the Spirit that the higher values like truth, beauty, goodness and love become living realities and acquire the highest power for self-transformation.
So, what we need today is a new synthesis in education which can include the aims of the ancient and modern systems of education in a higher reconciling vision of life. Such a synthesis must harmonise the ancient aim of self- knowledge with the modern aim of world-knowledge; it must be life-oriented and aim at an experiential under-standing of the laws of life and Nature in and through life instead of a mere accumulation of abstract mental knowledge. It must be creativity-oriented which means attention focussed on developing the creative potentialities of the instruments of human consciousness rather than on the development of narrow and specialised skills; it must be value-oriented which means emphasis on awakening an enlightened sensitivity to the higher values of life rather than on mechanical adaptation to the social machinery. In a nutshell the new aim of education has to be to learn the art and science of Creative Living.
In this book, "A New Approach to Education", which is the first in the "Integral Education Series," we presentsome of the basic ideas which can guide us in making education more meaningful. We are grateful to the authors and publishers of the articles presented in this volume. We acknowledge specially the contribution of Prof. Norman Dowsett and Prof. S.R. Jayaswal who edited the first edition which was brought out in 1974. This second edition has been greatly revised and enlarged.
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