When we talk about the education system of ancient India, what is the first thing that comes to our mind? Students being taught under the tree, children reading religious texts and living in huts, etc.
The ancient education system, popularly known as the Gurukul system was surprisingly, counted as the best education system in the then world.
Then what happened that only minimal traits of this great system of learning are found in the education system of today? Well, there is a short story behind it.
The Story Behind
The person responsible for the revolution, rather the destruction of the ancient education system is Lord Macaulay.
Macaulay was a British Viceroy who was sent to India by the English Queen to observe the country’s education system to its depths. In his report he stated that the Indians have high moral values and a rich cultural heritage. And hence, it is extremely difficult to make it a colony. So, the only way out is to attack the very roots of the country- the education system.
By this, Lord Macaulay clearly meant that India’s biggest strength is its education system, which is capable of preparing the best of individuals manifested with both a creative mindset and a practical approach.
Therefore, the Britishers came up with the idea of introducing a new English education system to the country. The Indians who believed the Britishers to be more progressive and considered English as an upcoming trend, accepted it.
The objective of this new system was to limit the moral and spiritual learning and to block the creative minds by abstaining from the practical and experimental approach towards things.
And all this was done in the name of promoting scientific temper and progressive approach in order to maintain the pace with the modern and the future world.
That’s how the Gurukul System was gradually uprooted and all left with the countrymen was a factory producing labor for the Britishers. The modern education system, although it has gone through many amendments, still walks on the path of this system.
Things can improve, if the following traits of the Gurukul system are adopted by the modern education system of the country.
1. Practical Learning
In ancient times, a practical demonstration of almost everything taught was given. Practical knowledge held more importance than the theoretical ones. Have you ever been taught the importance of self-dependence via an activity?
Some of you might have, but the majority haven’t. All this happens in stories today. Our course curriculum is now much limited to the bookish knowledge and even hypothesis or predicted theories and models.
Hence, it is important to have a practical orientation as this would make the students capable of implementing their knowledge when they face the real tough world in the future.
2. The Stress Management
This is one of the most important traits which should be necessarily adopted. This holds high relevance in today’s stressful and competitive environment.
Earlier, students were taught about mental stability. They were made to meditate and the students were taught that how should they keep themselves composed even in the gravest of situations.
But, as per the education system of today, stress management and its education is now limited to monthly seminars or occasional lectures. It is not at all, a part of routine education.
This lack of stress management in an individual makes him the weakest, even if he possesses the best of knowledge and capability.
3. The Moral Education
One of the greatest loopholes of the modern Indian education system was once, one of the biggest strengths. In ancient times, moral education was an important aspect of any student’s life.
And consequently, people were far more morally correct and stable. But today, hardly any attention is paid towards the inculcation of moral values in an individual.
Neither the teacher of the present takes it seriously (as they themselves are not much morally correct), nor the students understand its importance.
And Moral Science (the modern term for moral education), is either a mere grading subject or sometimes doesn’t even exist in the curriculum structure of the modern institutions of learning.
4. Sex Education
You might wonder, but it is true that sex education was also a part of the ancient system of education in India. The Kamasutra, a popular ancient text teaches a lot about a healthy sexual life.
This text is far more detailed than the so-called ‘Reproductive Health’ chapters of today which only teach you about STDs and how to avoid pregnancy.
Earlier, talking or studying about sex in the later years of education was not only, not a matter of shame, but also, was considered extremely important for the upcoming healthy married life.
And today, teachers tend to even skip such chapters sometimes, as speaking ‘sex’ is a matter of shame for them!
Consequently, people have become more careless today about their intimate health also leading to severe issues and problems related to casual sex, etc.
5. The Teacher-Student Relationship
One can witness a huge difference in the teacher-student relationship of then and today. Although, teachers are far more friendly today which provides the students with a sense of warmth and comfort, yet a lot more is left to be achieved.
Earlier, the teacher had huge respect in the eyes of his students and the students showed immense trust in their teachers.
And today, students don’t stop themselves from making undue fun of their teachers or insulting them. And this is because they hardly trust their knowledge or recognize their efforts. This hence, becomes one of the greatest loopholes of the education system.
So, it is important for the teachers to be learned and cordial enough to develop a sense of trust for themselves among the students, and even the students should equally be cordial and understanding towards their teachers and respect them.
6. Mode of Learning in Ancient Education System
The ancient religious texts were taught in native languages like that of Sanskrit, Tamil, Pali, and Prakrit. Thus, this not only made the students learn in their native languages but also promoted the national culture which can be inherited by the younger generation too.
But, with the introduction of The British education system into our country, things changed. English which is also an official language of the country along with Hindi, till today, is a dominant mode of language for education in good institutions.
Not only this, English is actually a trend today. Children are motivated to speak in English, sometimes even when they are conversing with their parents.
All this is gravely affecting our national languages, especially Hindi. Hence, national languages like Hindi should be made the dominant mode of education, without abstaining the children from learning English or any other foreign language. This would preserve our linguistic heritage and would make things better,
7. Discipline in Ancient Education System
Hard work when blended with honesty and discipline forms the key to success in life. And the ancient education system had a mastery in this.
Both the teachers and the students used to adopt discipline into their lives not only by maintaining the decorum of the class, but also, outside their learning sessions. A proper routine was strictly followed.
A check on every activity was kept. Inculcation of good habits and personality development was given much attention.
But today, despite the strict rules formed by various institutions for their proper functioning, both the teachers and the students and the teacher stand incapable of implementing them well even within the premises.
Hence an inspiration should be taken from the Gurukul system and order to produce responsible, and disciplined individuals.
8. Life Skills
Another very important trait that should be adopted by the modern education system is promoting the learning of life skills. Life skills include activities that help and support you in your daily livelihood.
Sculpturing, music, dance, stitching, archery, pottery, along with numerous others constituted the life skills of the ancient times, which were taught.
The students used to live with their Guru and helped them in his household chores which them to learn the basic skills of household like mobbing and cleaning.
This majorly contributed to their character development making them independent. Today, life skills are given limited importance and should be encouraged. After all, students should be allowed to learn from life and for life!
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9. Connecting With Religion And Spirituality
What these two can teach, nothing else can! On one hand, where understanding religion helps us to walk on the way of righteousness in order to live a life of dignity.
Spirituality helps us to self-introspect thereby helping us improving ourselves to become a version of our own selves, each day. Religious texts, stories, and manuscripts were the source of both knowledge and morality, in the ancient times. And all this can hardly be seen today.
So, in order to make the younger generation wiser and righteous, incorporating such texts in the curriculum is important. As an unrighteous mind leads to massive destruction.
10. Personal Attention
Earlier, students were taught as per their capabilities and personality trait. This is quite evident from the anecdotes of The Mahabharata. What if Bheem was asked to learn Archery?
I hope you understand. Every child is different and special. And teaching them as per the capabilities is important in order to bring out the best from themselves. For this, the personal attention of the teacher becomes very important for every student.
Today, every student learns almost everything in the major part of this educational phase. And hence, he becomes the Jack of all but Master of none. On the other hand, personal attention helps the weaker students to grow, and hence this trait can be adopted by the modern education system.
Therefore, one can say that a wisely constructed blend of these two patterns of education and learning can make the modern education system much better. And change comes with time. All we need to do is to take proper initiatives of the same and work for it.
Such traits, if adopted and implemented by the education system, would help in the production of better citizens who would lead to the development of the country as a whole.
Let us know in the comments if we missed any important aspect of ancient education system which can be adopted today?
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