Monthly Archives: August 2012

On Education: A View on Human and Nature Centric Education

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There is evolution in nature. Evolution is something which is accepted in science as well. The evolution which we see in nature progresses from Material Order to Plant Order to Animal Order and then finally comes the Human Order. The question which comes here is, what is the basic difference between Human Beings and rest of the species in nature? or more specifically, what is the difference between human beings and animals?

If we try to explore the above questions in depth then we find that there are several differences between animals and humans. Some of these differences are as follows:

  1. Evolution in human beings happens in relation to Evolution in their Consciousness.
  2. Human beings have the capability to reflect over things. The object of reflection may be internal and/or external.
  3. Human beings have Free Will.
  4. Human beings have the capability to “consciously interfere” into their own process of evolution and the evolution process in rest of the nature. This interference may be negative or positive. This is what is the definition and manifestation of free will in human beings.
  5. In case of animals and other orders in nature, the evolution happens by the law of Natural Selection. As per the process of natural selection the evolution in animals and other species in nature, happens by natural laws and they cannot “consciously interfere” in their own or rest of the nature’s process of evolution. As per this, there is no free will in case of animals.
  6. Living of an animal is mostly limited to four aspects: hunger, sleep, fear and reproduction. Needs of a human being transcend these four aspects. A human being needs something more than just the satisfaction of food, sleep, fear and reproduction.

The question which comes here is what more a human being needs?

Again on deeper reflection we can find out that a human being needs following things in addition to what an animal needs:

  1. Knowledge.
  2. Happiness.
  3. Material Prosperity.
  4. Assuring and Fulfilling Relationships.
  5. Fearlessness in Society.
  6. Co-existence with rest of the nature.
  7. Continuity of above all!

Knowledge

There is a need in human beings of Knowledge. A human being wants to understand every law and every detail related to his living at all the levels he lives. There is a need and also a possibility in a human being to gain this knowledge. In case of animals there is neither the need nor the possibility to gain such knowledge.

Happiness

There is a need in a human being of Happiness. The idea of happiness in case of a human being is different than an animal. An animal’s happiness is limited to the well being of its bodily existence, but a human being’s happiness transcends just the well being of the body.  A human being is also concerned about his Identity. The lack of clarity of notion of identity is a major factor in a human being’s unhappiness. The knowledge of identity contributes to a human being’s happiness and thus there is a linkage of knowledge with human happiness.

Material Prosperity

There is a need in a human being of Material Prosperity. A human being wants sufficient material resources for his bodily well being. A human being also needs the assurance that he will be materially well off in the future also. Such kind of need for assurance is not seen in case of animals. Animals need material resources for their bodily survival but they do not need the assurance that they will keep getting resources in future too. Whenever an animal is hungry it starts searching for the food and when it gets it and eats it, it’s done till the time it feels hungry again. This is why animals do not seem to accumulate material resources as human beings do. One may argue for the case of ants that they do accumulate, but even in their case it is by design that they do, not by intention or the feeling of insecurity/accumulation/assurance. To plan for the future and being tormented with the past are human phenomenon. Animals seem to be living in the present :). When a human being is not able to plan well how much material resources are needed for him to survive due to any reason, he feels deprived and he is inclined to accumulate more. This constant struggle in man to accumulate more and more also becomes a cause of his unhappiness and exploitation and war in society. One major reason for accumulation in human beings is also the lack of clarity in and distinction between the psychological needs and material needs. Thus there is a linkage of feeling of material prosperity with knowledge.

Assuring and Fulfilling Relationships

Human beings need assuring and fulfilling Relationships. A human being cannot live alone. Human relations are embedded in every aspect of one’s life. Human relations play role in fulfilling physical, material and psychological and also spiritual needs in a human being. For continuity of human race we need relationships, without relations there is no possibility of reproduction and upbringing. A child is born in relation with his parents and without assuring and fulfilling relationship he cannot survive and grow. For fulfilling our material needs we need relationships since not everything can be done by a single person alone? For fulfilling our psychological needs we need relationships. Lack of knowledge of relationships and thus lack of assurance in relationships leads to fear, which is not acceptable to any human being, so assurance in relationships is a basic requirement for a human being. A human being needs feeling of Trust, Respect, and Affection etc. in relationships. These are basic psychological requirements of a human being. Relationships are the basis of every society, social order and social system.

It must be noted that the requirement of relationships in human being is far different than requirement of relationships in animals. In case of animals the relationships are mainly motivated by and limit themselves to the extent of bodily well being and protection. Relationships in case of animals are mainly governed by natural laws. There is no conscious involvement of the entities involved in relationship. In case of human beings there is conscious involvement and they can interfere in having enriching or depriving relations. With knowledge of relationships a human being can have fulfilling relationships with other human being.

Fearlessness in Society

A society is a larger extension of human-human relations. A human being needs fearlessness in relations and also assurance, trust and thus fearlessness with the systems which work and are also required for smooth working of the society. The relationship between an individual and society or any social system has to be of Mutually Enriching in nature. The society or any social system should try to fulfill the basic needs (both material and psychological) of a human being and a human being should try to make such a society or social system in which there is provision of fulfilling the basic needs of every human being. This is what is being meant with mutual enrichment. Foundation of such a society or system will be empowered individual rather than few powerful decision makers. Individuals with holistic vision are required to make such a social order. Without holistic knowledge such a system would be impossible.

Co-existence with rest of the nature

Needless to mention without sustainable co-existence with rest of the nature, human race cannot survive. This also calls the need for holistic vision which is inclusive of nature and doesn’t exclude it for the development or progress of human race. Human development has to be complimentary with the development of rest of the nature, not in conflict. Animals are already complimentary to rest of the nature. Currently human beings are not complimentary, but with the holistic vision and understanding, such complementarities are possible.

Continuity of above all!

Human beings need continuity of all above mentioned aspects as well. In fact need for continuity is a very important aspect in case of human beings which makes them distinct from animals. This need for continuity only reflects itself in the form of need for planning for future and carrying the burdens of past in human beings. There is no need for continuity of anything in case of animals. If an animal gets sufficient food when it is hungry, good shelter to protect its body and no predator around then that is all for it. There is no planning for future; there are no burdens of the past. This need for continuity in human beings is also responsible for them having the need for knowledge.

It is clear from above discussion what the major differences between human beings and animals are. The purpose of highlighting these differences is to identify exactly what are the basic human desires. Unless or until we identify what a human being needs, we cannot identity the needs of  society or any kind of social system, since the purpose of any society or social system is to help a human being to fulfill his basic desire. In this article I am mainly concerned with the Education System.

It is clear from above discussion that knowledge is the basic desire of a human being and how knowledge is needed by a human being in order to fulfill his other basic desires as well. To fulfill this basic desire of knowledge in a human being should be the purpose of any education system.

There are two questions which now any kind of education system would have:

  1. What should be the Content of education?
  2. What should be the Process of education?

Content of Education

Content of education should be the content of knowledge a human being needs.

So what a human being needs as a content of knowledge?
A human being wants to understand all the laws and details in his living at all the levels he lives.

Next question which comes here is at what all levels a human being lives?
A human being lives at following levels:

  1. With the Self.
  2. Within Relationships. In a family.
  3. In a Society and with various Social Systems.
  4. With rest of the Nature and Existence.

A human being lives at these four levels. A human being wants to understand all the laws and details at these four levels. Hence, the content of knowledge thus turns out to be following.

Content of Knowledge

  1. Knowledge of the Self.
    What is the purpose of my life? And How do I fulfill it?
  2. Knowledge of Relationships.
    What are the basic feelings involves in relationships? And how do I ensure them within myself and for others?
  3. Knowledge of Society.
    What is a society?
    What constitutes a society?
    What should be the purpose of society?
    What are the various social systems required in the society?
    What should be the purpose of all those systems? And many more questions.
  4. Knowledge of Nature.
    Knowledge of four orders in nature and their interconnectedness.
  5. Knowledge of Rest of the Existence.

Next question is about process of knowledge. Following section highlights some salient features which should be incorporated in process of imparting knowledge.

Process of Knowledge

Process of imparting education should be such that it facilitates the understanding of the content of education to a human being better. It becomes necessary to understand at this how a human being can understand better. Following are some features of process of education which when are incorporated in education helps facilitate the understanding of students better.

  1. Learning by Observation.
  2. Learning by Experimentation and Doing.
  3. Going from Meaning to Word.
  4. Connecting with reality and environment around.
  5. Going from Known to Unknown. Starting the content of teaching from what students know and then taking them towards the concept which they do not know.
  6. Considering the Receptivity (Patrata) of the student.
  7. Making a distinction between Value and Skill.
  8. Understanding should be given more priority over theories and authors.
  9. Making a distinction between Experimental and Experiential education and incorporating associated process.
  10. Localization of Education. It means education should be in alignment with local conditions, local belief systems, local needs, local economy etc. When this is not the case then students begin to assume something else “non-local” as more superior than theirs. This affects local life, local relations, local communications, local systems.
  11. Trust between Teacher and Student. Trust is must essential especially in experiential education.
  12. Inquisitiveness to learn in both Teacher and the Student.
  13. Education should not be the means to achieve some other end. It should be an end in itself.
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