Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi: Idealism, Pragmatism and Naturalism

Philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi

Educational philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi is a synthesis of Idealism, Pragmatism, and Naturalism which is explained below:

Gandhiji’s Idealism in Education

The following are the chief characteristics of idealism of Gandhiji-

  1. Concept of Education- Gandhiji summed up his ideas on education in these words, “By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in child and man- body, mind and spirit.”
  2. Education for Character Development- Gandhiji said, “The end of all knowledge must be building up character. What is education without character and what is character without elementary personal purity?”
  3. Role of the Teacher in the spiritual and moral training of his Students- Gandhiji observed, just as physical training was to be imparted through physical exercise, even so the training of the spirit entirely depended on the life and character of the teacher.
  4. An Ideal Teacher- Gandhiji said, “The teacher is ideal who teaches one thing with the lips and carries another in his heart.”
  5. Freedom but Under Discipline- Gandhiji emphatically said, “The highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measures of discipline and humility. Freedom that comes from discipline and humility cannot be denied, unbridled license is a sign of vulgarity injurious alike to self and one’s neighbours.”

Gandhiji’s Pragmatism in Education

Gandhiji emphasized activity curriculum. Like all pragmatists he advocated learning by experience and learning by activity. Learning by experience was the chief force behind his methods of teaching which can be seen as follows-

  1. Experimental Approach- Like other pragmatists, Gandhiji believes in an experimental approach towards life. He calls his biography as ‘My experiments with truth’. He talks of two types of truth- the relative truth and the absolute truth. According to his view point, the conception of relative truth is always subject to experimentation and modification. The absolute truth is always subject to experimentation and modification. The absolute truth or God is final.
  2. Self-Knowledge Acquire- In the field of education, Gandhiji advocates with the pragmatists that the child should acquire knowledge himself. This will help him to solve his future situations in later life.
  3. Project Method- The project method of the pragmatists and the basic schemes of Mahatma Gandhi have many common points. Both these methods are based on the principle activity and interest.
  4. Specialized activity- The project method is based on some specialized activity. It means that the activity is to be in a social setting. In the same way the basic craft is chosen keeping in the view that the craft of the community. Hence, it will be a socialized activity and will bring forth relationship with the community as well.

Gandhiji’s Naturalism in Education

Gandhiji introduced several elements of naturalism in education and this becomes clear from the following-

  1. Craft work as natural meeting point of all subjects- Craft work is the meeting point of all subjects. The correlated teaching arouses greater interest and enthusiasm because it gives teaching and learning a relevance born of practical and living purpose and need. Craft work done under proper conditions not only makes the acquisition of much related knowledge more concrete and realistic but also adds a powerful contribution to the development of personality and character and instills respects and love for all society useful work.
  2. Medium of Instruction- Gandhiji wrote, “Our language id the reflection of ourselves and if you tell me that our language are too poor to express the best thought, I say that the sooner we are wiped out of existence the better for us.” About foreign medium he observed, “The foreign medium had made our children practically foreigners in their own land.”
  3. Freedom for the Child- Like the naturalists he advocates freedom for the child. “If the children are to find themselves, they must be allowed a sufficient degree of freedom; if they are to develop their powers to the fullest, they must be prepared to accept the appropriate discipline and training.”
  4. Education in Natural surroundings- Gandhiji greatly stressed the importance of educating the child in natural surroundings. He expects “the teachers to educate village children in their villages so as to draw out all their faculties through some handicrafts.”

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