Fundamental Basis for Philosophy of Education: An Alternative Proposal
The word ‘Philosophy’ implies a ‘view’ of reality based either on ‘assumptions/viewpoint’ or ‘knowing’. The latter entails universality and clearly identifies the ‘Seer’ and the ‘Seen’. While the aspects of reality perceivable via the five senses have been studied and defined by the scientific method and yielded definitiveness; the study of the Human Being remains incomplete. The lack of a Universal Definition of the Human Being, Human Purpose and Human Conduct and its lack thereof in education, bears testimony to this fact. The state of Human Society and Nation States at any point in time is but a reflection of Individual Human ‘mentality’ in that time and space. In order to understand Human Society and its issues, the study of the ‘conscious- aspect’ of the Human Being thus becomes necessary. This paper focuses on a new proposal called Madhyasth Darshan (Coexistentialism) by A Nagraj as a fundamental basis for education based on an understanding of reality as-it-is.
The term ‘Education’ encompasses (a) the entity being educated, (b) purpose and goal of education, (c) content of education & (d) method of education. Any Philosophy/Darsana or proposal on the same needs to fulfill the following criteria:
o Naturally acceptable (not an imposition)
o Rational (satisfies reason)
o Experiential (authenticity)
o Livable (comes in Living)
o True across time, place and person; is for Individual and Common Good
o Is Transmissible
- Complete – Covers
o Four dimensions of human living (thought, behavior, work & realization),
o Five states [individual, family, society, state, inter-nation], and
o The Aspects of Human Education, Conduct, Constitution & Systems.
Hence the Purpose of Education is to ensure synergy in all aspects of human living (covered above). The Content of Education can be categorized as (i) Knowledge (ii) Values and (iii) Information-Analysis & Skills. While the third area involves study of the physiochemical aspects of reality (current education’s focus); the second has not had any Universal basis – religious basis have caused more problems than solutions. This is because we do not have clarity on ‘(i) knowledge’, which alone when had, provides a sound reality-existential basis for ‘(ii) values’, which in turn provides direction and purpose to ‘(iii) skills’.
Proposed Foundational Content for Education:
o Knowledge of Entire Existence as “Coexistence”
o Knowledge of the ‘Self’ – Conscious Aspect
o Knowledge of Humane Conduct: Human-Human and Human-Nature Relationships
o Discrimination between changing and changeless dimensions of reality & ‘laws of living’ – intellectual laws, social law, natural law
o Identification of Human Goals
o Knowledge of Time, Activity and Decision Making
o Provides Direction to Human Goals
Method of Education is to enable the student to self-investigate into all these aspects and know them in their own right.
Conclusion: Existence is in Orderliness, in Harmony. Man wants to be in Harmony and can do so by having ‘Knowledge’. This is the basis and purpose of Education. “Coexistentialism” [Jeevan Vidya, Madhyasth Darshan, Saha-astitva-vaad by A Nagraj] provides a valid proposal for the same; it resolves all dimensions of human living in a Universal manner – rooted in Reality. Experiments over the past 15 years have yielded desired results. The expectation of ‘Knowledge’ from India has now been accomplished.
Submitted under the Central Theme: Educational Reform and Philosophy of Education, Regional Theme: Indian Philosophy of Education
(Abstract of paper sent to Azim Premji University, Bangalore)
Shriram Narasimhan, Gowri Srihari.