Even within the narrow limits of mercy academic education, the system in vogue in our country up to the middle of this 20th century, appears to be very crude. Our school may very well be described as a tyrant'shouse where wagon?loads of information on various subjects are thrust upon young minds by a terroristic discipline and nobody cares to understand with sympathy even the obvious biological demands of the young ones. Hence, no amount of supplementary arrangements for developing their physique, efficiency and character will be of any avail, unless they are released the deadening pressure of the unscientific and unnatural methods of teaching which are commonly practised in our ordinary schools.
Just like the growth of their tender limbs, the growth of the intellectual faculties of the children requires very careful and intelligent nursing. Each stage?infancy, childhood, adolescence and youth? has its peculiar characteristics, and the precise business of the teacher is to adjust the surroundings and activities of the pupil so that the latter may be gently led through all these stages and allowed to unfold, by a gradual and natural process, his various faculties like so many flower?blossoms. A child'smind has to be just helped to grow and not sawed, planed and chiseled like a plank of wood. The teacher'stask is more like that of the gardener than that of the carpenter or mason.
Formerly education was supposed to resemble the work of a mason. Teachers presumed that they were to build in the pupil'smind an edifice of knowledge by piling up information on various subjects. Thus they used to thrust their own mature knowledge on the pupil'smind without doubting for a moment whether he was fit for receiving that. But the precious contributions of Pestalozzi and Froebel towards the education of little children have revolutionised the entire education system in the West. Pedagogy has developed into a complete science and hundreds of experiments are being carried on there to make new researches regarding correct methods of teaching, school discipline and other allied things.
Pestalozzi detected the fallacy of ignoring the pupil'smind as a subjective factor of education. Since then psychology of infancy, childhood, adolescence and youth have commenced to play a very important role in education and have become an interesting field of useful pedagogy research. The very function of education has been discovered to be mainly psychological insofar as it has been found to consist simply in helping the development of the in-born faculties and not in stuffing the brain with information. For such development, Pestalozzi recommended repeated exercise of the faculties.
Froebel added that such exercise of the faculties becomes effective only when it proceeds from voluntary efforts. Repeated voluntary exercise of a faculty is all that is required for its healthy development. The impulse for the exercise must come from within. This is absolutely essential. If it is done under compulsion, if, for instance, memory is exercised for fear of punishment, this, instead of developing the faculty, is sure to injure the brain by subjecting it to an abnormal strain.
This epoch-making discovery has made the teacher'stask immensely complicated. For, to rouse self-activity the teacher is required to have an expert knowledge of the pupil'staste and capacity, which vary enormously with heredity, age and environment. Syllabus, routine, lessons, school-discipline have all to be based fundamentally on the psychological requirements of different groups of pupil'sclassified at least according to age into four broad divisions, namely, infancy, childhood, adolescence and youth; otherwise the very object of developing the faculties has every chance of being frustrated.
In the advanced countries of the West, serious efforts are put forth to make each particular lesson easy and interesting; succeeding lessons are graduated according to the growing power of the pupil'smind; lessons on different subjects are coordinated as far as possible to save specially little ones from unnecessary mental strain; such pupils are led very gently from the known to the unknown, from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from the concrete to the abstract; training of the senses, specially of sight and sound, is provided and first-hand observation is made to be the basis of nature-study; straining of the hand is imparted through manual work and this is made interesting by coordinating it with lessons on different subjects; ?learning through activity? is an important feature of modern child-education; pictures, charts, models, maps, articles for object-lessons, articles for interesting games, together with hundreds of devices, are requisitioned for converting the education of children into a kind of highly amusing play which can easily stir up the self-activity of the pupils for the natural unforldment of their in-born faculties.
To sum up, the modern educationists in the advanced countries of the West are unanimous in believing that the child'sbrain is a highly delicate organ and therefore requires very careful handling; that the teacher'sbusiness consists solely in helping the natural unfoldment of its latent faculties; the teacher can help this process only by rousing the self-activity of the pupils, which is the most potent and indispensable factor for a healthy development of their faculties; that this self-activity can be awakened only by loving and capacity; that syllabus, routine, methods of imparting lessons, school-discipline, all must conform primarily to the important psychological requirements of the pupils.
But in our country the state of things is quite different; although the authorities here are earnestly trying to improve school education in the light of the accepted methods of the advanced countries, we need not enter into any detailed comment to point out that in most of our schools pupils are still subjected to ideals and methods of education which have long become obsolete in the West. Ideals and methods which have absolutely no relation with the needs and capacities of the evolving mind of the pupil may be called, in this age of pedagogic enlightenment, simply barbarous. By inflicting this barbarous method upon the school-going population, we have been perpetrating a horrible act of cruelty upon the young ones of the country; in the name of education we have been unconsciously trampling upon their budding faculties, impeding their healthy growth and all-round development. Our ignorance of modern methods cannot be excused and permitted to exonerate this positively criminal offence in view of the vast array of pedagogic publications fore us.
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