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Tagore’s Santiniketan

As a child, Tagore hated going to school. He found it suffocating and oppressive. The school appeared like a prison. He could never do what he felt like doing. While other children listened to the teacher, Tagore’s mind would wander away. The experience of his schooldays in Calcutta shaped Tagore’s ideas of education.


This dream of Rabindranath Tagore’s materialized in Shantiniketan, a unique university where there are classrooms under the skies, and if the student’s mind wanders, it dwells on the cosmos.

The institution was initially an Ashram set up by Maharishi Devendranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore’s father, in 1863


                                                Class-rooms under the Sky

Rabindranath Tagore started an open air school there for children named "Path Bhavan". Tagore’s idea was that of learning in a natural environment, in the open, under the trees, would be closer to nature.

After Tagore received the Nobel Prize in 1913 for literature, for his book ‘Gitanjali’, the school was expanded into a university named as Visva Bharati.

Visva Bharati University


Tagore’s Idea of Education

  • Tagore felt that childhood ought to be a time of self-learning, Today Visva Bharati is one of the renowned universities, which attracts thousands of students each year. Shantiniketan is also a tourist attraction because Rabindranath wrote many of his literary classics here.

    First woman Prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, renowned film director Satyajit Ray and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen are among its most illustrious students.outside the rigid and restricting discipline of the schooling system set up by the British.

  • Teachers had to be imaginative, understand the child, and help the child develop her curiosity.

  • The natural desire of the child to be creative should be encouraged. Tagore felt that creative learning could be encouraged only within a natural environment. Living in harmony with nature, children could cultivate their natural creativity.

Gandhiji and Tagore

Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi had the same concept of education. The only difference was …

  • Gandhiji was highly critical of Western civilisation and its worship of machines and technology.

  • Tagore wanted to combine elements of modern Western civilisation with what he saw as the best within Indian tradition. He emphasised the need to teach science and technology at Santiniketan, along with art, music and dance.

Gandhiji and Tagore


As the British brought drastic changes the Indian system of education, many Indian scholars started thinking the way a national educational system could be fashioned.

  • Some wanted changes within the system set up by the British

  • Others wanted an alternative system to be created so that people were educated into a culture that was truly national.

The debate on "national education" continued even after independence.

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