Tagore's School

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Visva-Bharati University is a public central university located Santiniketan, West Bengal. It was founded by Rabindranath Tagore who called it Visva Bharati, which means the communion of the world with India.

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Educated by private tutors, Tagore went to study law at University College, London, but dropped out after a year. He developed an intense dislike of conventional, Western education and put a great deal of energy into establishing a school and later a university at a place in the poor, rural hinterland of Bengal, Shantiniketan. When Maria Montessori visited the school in 1939, she declared that she was in complete sympathy with its founder’s philosophy of education.

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In India, Rabindranath Tagore created a form of authentic education which he believed was more true to the needs children growing up in rural India than conventional, didactic schooling: "Children’s minds are sensitive to the influences of the world. Their subconscious minds are active, always imbibing some lesson, and realizing the joy of knowing. This sensitive receptivity allows them, without any strain, to master language, which is the most complex and difficult instrument of expression, full of indefinable ideas and abstract symbols … Because of this, their introduction to the world of reality is easy and joyful."

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He seriously wanted to nurture quality education for the people of India. For this noble purpose, he decided to open a school in 1901. He opened a school in Shantiniketan and called it Brahmachary Ashram.

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The aim of this school was to blend the new Western and the traditional Eastern system of education. In the words of Tagore, “Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.” He believed that children’s minds are extremely sensitive to the influences of the world around them. Their minds are always imbibing some lessons and they actually realize the joy of knowing.

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In his school students were not only imparted the everyday subjects but emphasis was also given on vocational education. It prepared the students for what lay out there in the future outside the realms of the school. Tagore himself had dropped out from school as he felt claustrophobic in the enclosure of four walls. He found his mind getting stuck in them. In that era it was a path breaking step in the arena of education for a country which was slowly getting hitched to the European mode of education in closed classes, where knowledge was only textual and exam oriented.

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In the year 1913, Tagore was presented with the Noble Prize for literature for his book of poems ‘Geetanjali’. It not only enhanced India’s position but also upped the prestige of Shantiniketan. After this, in 1921, he converted the little school into a university and called it Visva Bharti- where the world makes a home in a nest is how Tagore chose to define the institution. Whereas the university gives degree courses in humanities, science and the more regular streams of knowledge, it on the other hand hones the latent talents in their students. Its art college, Kala Bhavan, is considered to be one of the best art colleges in the world. Tagore believed that, “In Art, man reveals himself and not his objects.”

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The greatness and diversity of this University can easily be understood if one looks at the alumni that this institution has produced. If we have on one hand the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, then on the other hand it has given the nation a fiery Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. Presumably the greatest film maker India ever produced and got an Academy for his lifelong works, Satyajit Ray was also a product of this institution. Other noted luminaries were Maharani Gayatri Devi, Abdul Ghani Khan. The notable painter Nandalal Bose was the principal of the Kala Bhavan.

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