Rabindranath Tagore was primarily an educationist rather than a political thinker. He put emphasis on ‘naturalism’ for framing educational model. In education, freedom is the basic guiding force for inculcating interest within a student who will derive inspiration from nature to pursue any branch of knowledge he likes. The establishment of Shantiniketan fulfilled the desired goal of Tagore in the educational front.
Unity of West and East:
Tagore’s education marked a novel blending of the ideas of the East and West. The spiritualism of Indian philosophy and progressive outlook of the western people were blended together to give rise to an educational philosophy which marked its distinction in comparison to other educationists of India.
Natural growth in natural circumstance:
Tagore envisaged that nature is the best teacher to the pupil. Nature will provide the student with necessary situation to earn knowledge. No pressure should be exerted upon the student to learn any thing. It is nature which will be the guiding force to inculcate the spirit of learning in the mind of a student to pursue the education he likes. It will shape his behaviour and character.
Goodbye to book-centered education:
For the first time in the arena of education, Tagore established a new mile-stone. With boldness and firmness, he rejected a book-centered education for students. To him it is not just to confine the mind of boys and girls to text-books only. It will kill the natural instincts of a student and make him bookish. It will kill his creative skill. So, students should be freed from the-book-centered education and should be given a broader avenue for learning.
Freedom to learner:
Tagore had championed the cause of freedom. The same he wanted to implement in the field of education. With that object he had opened Shantiniketan, Sri Niketan and Brahmachari Ashram. Accordingly, he gave free choice to students to develop their interest in any field they like. To him, education should be after the heart of a man. He explained freedom in three-categorized ways i.e. freedom of heart, freedom of intellect and freedom of will.
Education imparted in a natural way will lead to the fulfillment of these three freedoms. One may pursue the vocational education or education of an intellect, or education in any branch of the arts or one may become a sansei by observing celibacy.
Teaching – practical and real:
According to Tagore, teaching should be practical and real but not artificial and theoretical. As a naturalist out and out, Tagore laid emphasis on the practicality of education. That will definitely increase the creative skill within a learner. That creativity will bring perfection in the learning process and the student will be a master in his own field but not a slave to mere theoretical knowledge which one delves deep.
Place of fine arts (dance, drama, music, poetry etc.:
Tagore attached great importance to the fine arts in his educational curriculum. To him, game, dance, music, drama, painting etc. should form a part of educational process. Students should take active part in these finer aspects of human life for these are very essential to enrich soul.
In his words “Speaking is for mankind and music for nature speaking is clear and limited by its needs; whereas music is mystic and expressive for a romantic eagerness. That is why; speaking creates nearness between man and man, while music helps us to identify ourselves with nature. When the harmonies of sounds are released with our expression then speaking loses much of its limited significance, but on the contrary getting together of the two muses had an all pervading character”.
Education for rural reconstruction:
Tagore was aware about the rural poverty of our country. So, he wanted to eradicate it through education. The practical training imparted in different crafts to the students will make them skilled artisans in their field. They can remove the poverty of the rural bulk by applying their education helping thereby in the process of rural reconstruction.