When Education Enriches, Enables, and Empowers: Rabindranath Tagore’s Experiences, Insights, and Contributions

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Book Chapter

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Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali polymath who earned international acclaim for his accomplishments as a poet; novelist; playwright; philosopher; educationalist; political thinker; social reformer and philosopher. This chapter focuses on Tagore’s contribution to education as it discusses his educational philosophy and vision; his influences and motivations; the key educational principles he espoused and lived by and his continuing legacy. It particularly sheds light on his critique of the Western paradigm-informed education establishment of his time and his response to its excesses and shortcomings. It also elaborates on the educational projects he pursued as he aspired to afford Indian children vibrant; creative and inclusive learning spaces. The establishment of three educational institutions under his tutelage; Santiniketan; Visva-Bharati and Sriniketan; represented in many ways his commitment to enrich; enable and empower learners through an experiential and holistic approach to learning. More importantly; they served as “meeting grounds” that helped children coming from different cultural and social backgrounds experience and celebrate diversity; forge fellowships and learn to look after one another’s welfare. Through this chapter; readers are likewise made aware of Tagore’s quest to liberate the school from unfettered materialism; cultural prejudice and exclusionary institutional practices by espousing freedom; kinship with nature and the importance of creativity and imagination. They are also rendered cognizant of his endeavor to inculcate in learners the importance of promoting a common humanity through education. This chapter concludes by examining new ideas and areas for research that emerged as promising theoretical and practical offshoots of Tagore’s life’s work.