Education starts as soon as the child is born and if we go by various researchers on the subject it starts from the womb of mother itself. We listen to elders saying that one should loudly read good stories and listen to religious sermons during pregnancy as this puts a positive impact on the child.
There is a very popular story supporting this belief which says that Abhimanyu, the child of Arjun (third among Pandav’s in Mahabharata) and Subhadra learned the art of breaking the Chakravyuh Rachna in the womb of their mother. He, later on used this knowledge to break the Kaurav’s Chakravyuh Rachna and saved Pandavas from definite defeat, however, he was not able to come out of it as his mother fell asleep when his father Arjun was narrating the process.
Even if we do not believe the above story, it has been scientifically proved that the children learn very quickly at the early stages of life and after a certain age, the learning becomes very slow. It proves that childhood is the most important phase of any person and thus must be carefully utilized to bring out the best.
The prominent thinkers too understood the importance of these stages and therefore developed certain principles/models that were to be followed for the development of the child in the best possible way. They are classified into two main categories:
1) The ‘instrumental’/’molding’/’utilitarian’ model of education
This model of education is considered in terms of producing something extrinsic or external that focused mainly on discipline, role of teacher, etc. The teacher has to choose what is valuable and worthwhile, encouraging children and work towards those extrinsic ends. It is the stamping of individual from outside i.e. to bring up/to develop.
The prominent followers of this model of education are Kapil, Dayananda, Tagore, Radhakrishnan, Gandhi, Plato, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Ross, Kant, etc.
Gandhi, “By education, I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man- body, mind and spirit.”
Plato, “Education is the capacity to feel pleasure and pain at the right moment. It develops in the body and in the soul of the pupil all the beauty and all the perfection which he is capable of.”
Heinrich Pestalozzi, “Education is natural harmonious and progressive development of man’s innate powers”.
Friedrich William Froebel, “Education is enfoldment of what is already enfolded in the germ. It is the process through which the child makes internal external”.
2) The ‘Growth’/’Child-centered’ model of education
It is linked to a natural process in which individual develops like a plant towards something that is presumed to be desirable. The curriculum should arise from the interest of the child rather than from the demands of the teacher. The self-expression of the child is more important than discipline of the subject matter. The children should not be coerced or punished and they should be allowed to learn from experience rather than the things told.
Plato (L) and Aristotle (R)
It converts moral features of education into procedural principles intrinsic to the process of education itself. They believe in drawing out and not stamping in.
The prominent followers of this model of education were Democritus (460-360 BC), Rousseau, Aristotle, Hocking, Spencer, McDougall, Bernard Shaw, etc.
Rousseau, “Plants are developed by cultivation and men by education.”
Rousseau, “Education of man commences at his birth; before he can speak, before he can understand he is already instructed. Experience is the forerunner of the perfect”.
Aristotle, “Education is the creation of a sound mind in a sound body. It develops man’s faculty, especially his mind so that he may be able to enjoy the contemplation of supreme truth, goodness and beauty of which perfect happiness essentially consists.
Herbert Spencer, “Education is complete living”.
In the light of the two widely accepted and practiced models/principles of education we can say that the role of child and teacher both are very important. In one case, the teacher is in the co-driver seat and navigating the child to bring them to the chosen destination. In the other case, the teacher is acting like a gardener and letting the child to grow naturally like a plant. They are pruning only when the need arises.
To conclude, the child can be Arjuna or Eklavya. They can attain the same level of proficiency when the teacher like Dronacharya moulds them or they grow themselves with teacher’s mere presence like Eklavya. In both the cases, the child and teacher hold a defining role, however, in different capacities. One can follow whatever model they need to follow or follow growth at initial stage and molding at later stage. However, it must be kept in mind that children and their childhood is the most crucial stage of life. Make it worth cherishing!