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Connecting cultures: rethinking Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘ideals of education’

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In 1917, Rabindranath Tagore declared, ‘There is only one history – the history of man’ [Tagore, R. (1917/2009). Nationalism. New Delhi: Penguin, p. 65]. This concept of ‘one-history’, and by extension ‘one-world’ is at the heart of his conceptualisation of what I call, education-sans-boundaries and, as I see it, one of the ways to bring a glocal unity. His goal was to establish the dignity of human relationships across boundaries. Thus, for him, local education and global education should not be two ends of a spectrum but overlapping categories instead. Moreover, the education-sans-boundaries should help in restoring the balance and harmony between man and society, knowledge and knowledge, and nation and nation. In this paper, I will explore Tagore’s relevant writings on education, with a focus on his concerted educational efforts to negotiate the boundaries of nation and geography to restore the lost rhythm. In the highly fractured times in which he lived, Tagore saw education in India was in a double-layered crisis under colonialism and growing nationalism. His was a non-dogmatic defence of harmony and principles of unity, and he tried to achieve this in his education models by going beyond the realms of collapsing of cultural differences and without sacrificing local/individual ties and that admits to no artificial boundaries – political, ideological or geographic. The present attempt, therefore, engages with Tagore’s distinct conceptualisation of open-ended education models by looking at his scholarly-and-practical efforts. It suggests that transmission of cultures has provided a ‘broad-basis’ of education in India and can offer healthy conditions for, and directions towards, building transnational/international solidarities.
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Keywords: India; Rabindranath Tagore; culture-transmissions; education-sans-boundaries; hybridity; nation/nationality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of English, Neotia University, Kolkata, India

Publication date: May 4, 2018

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