Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tagore and Shantiniketan Education – Part 3 - Activites, Schools and Student Experience

 Activities at the Shantiniketan

Sahitya Sabhas -  These were literary and musical evening that took place every Tuesday. Students would present their own literary work, dance, music and short skits among themselves and the community. They were also given a chance to perform these plays at the annual Rabindra Saptaho event with all other bodies of the Visva Bharati University. The other activities were...

Importance to extra-curricular activities – Students engaged in lots of physical activities in their time there. There were annual competitions in the areas of music, dance and recitation held there.

Lectures by professionals – Various professionals in the fields of sciences were invited to the school and university. Evening discussions of contemporary scientific and social issues where held along with the students.

Travel – Excursions and trips were organized to parts of West Bengal including Bardhaman, Malda, Purulia and Chittaranjan. There was a yearly picnic (Barshik Bonobhojan) as well.

Student Committees – The school had several student run communities that make and govern decisions related to student body. These committess teach students to take their own decisions and take self-responsibility for themselves.  Some committees were:-
-Environment Committee ("Paribesh Bibhag"),
-Health Committee ("Swastho Bibhag"),
-Justice Committee ("Bichar bibhag")
-Food Committee ("Ahar Bibhag")
-Literary Committee ("Sahitya Bibhag") etc. that govern and make decisions on matters related to student body.

Student Publication – Students were allowed to express their opinions through a quarterly news-paper, “Resonance”, which is planned and exceuted by senior students

Tagore's Friend on Shantiniketan

L.K. Elmhirst was an English agricultural scientist who became Tagore’s friend and took responsibility for the operation of Tagore’s school. Here he describes what the children in the school did in his own words, 

"The following functions [are] treated as of primary educational importance:
  1. Care and cleaning and construction of quarters.
  2. Care and proper use of latrines; sanitary disposal of waste.
  3. Cooking and serving of food; clothes washing and repair.
  4. Personal hygiene and healthy habits.
  5. Individual self-discipline; group self-government.
  6. Policing and hospitality; fire drill and control.
In every one of these, there is some art to be mastered, some business or organizing capacity to be developed, some law of science to be recognised, and in all of theme there is a call for the recognition of the need for individual self-preservation as well as of the duties, responsibilities and privileges of family membership and citizenship.”

Elmhirst, L.K. 1961 (1925). ‘Siksha-Satra.’ in Rabindranath Tagore, Pioneer in Education: Essays and Exchanges between Rabindranath Tagore and L.K. Elmhirst, edited by Rabindranath Tagore and L.K. Elmhirst. London: John Murray. pp. 69–70, 71–72. ||

Schools at the Shantiniketan

1. Kala Bhavan –College of Fine Arts and Crafts.  It is considered one of the best art colleges in the world. It has a museum with a display of sculptures, frescoes and murals and a library of art books
2. Sangeet Bhavan – College of Dance and Music. Consists of a collection of Art, Music and Humanities
3.  Patha Bhavana – Primary and Secondary School of the Visva Bharati University.

Student experience at Shantiniketan

Ex-student Shyamashree Dasgupta, a renowned, professional Rabindra Sangeet singer and teacher, expresses her feelings, saying, "A lot of things were different before, but one thing which has remained consistent is the atmosphere in which students are taught, under the open sky, thus the closeness to Nature." She also mentions "ekhane gaan, naach, akashe-batashe ghure beraye," (There is music in the air).” Kabi Guru’s Dhantinikketan posted on Monday,  August 01, 2011 on - www.educationtimes.com - Article Link

'Ratna Roy, another ex-student, on the other hand, mentions how the season changes were marked distinctively and beautifully, adding "eto shundor bhabe ei prakitic bodol gulo hoto, sheta amra khub upobhog kortam." (The seasons would change so beautifully, we would welcome them whole heartedly.)' – Kabi Guru’s Dhantinikketan posted on Monday,  August 01, 2011 on www.educationtimes.com - Article Link 

Shantiniketan in the News

'On December 22 1901, Devendranaths son, Rabindranath Tagore started a school at Santiniketan named Brahmacharyasrama modeled on the lines of the ancient gurukul system. Later it was renamed Visva Bharati, its symbolic meaning being defined by Tagore as where the world makes a home in a nest. The aim of this educational institute was the quest for truth, blending the methods of learning of the East and West.' – IndiaTravelogue.com (http://indiatravelogue.com/leis/heri/heri10.html)

As described on the website www.rabindranathtagore.co.in, Rabindranath Tagore started Shantiniketan with a mission to re-vitalize knowledge of the masses. He used the funds he got from winning the Nobel Prize and several other awards to fund this school.

A new institute in Shantiniketan

In the year of 1921, great Tagore and farming economist Leonard Elmhirst set up the "Institute for Non-urban renovation, later highly relabeled Shriniketan or residence of wellbeing, in the area of Surul, a town near the ashram. With it, Tagore desired to average Gandhi's Swaraj demonstrations, which he sometimes held responsible for English India's recognized mental—and thus eventually colonial—decline. He desired aid from contributors, authorities, and college students globally to "free villages from the shackles of vulnerability and ignorance" by "vitalising knowledge".

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