A friend called- he mentioned that the Arts (a subject of my previous post) were a central element of the Guru-shishya parampara, a system of schooling prevalent till as late as the last century. Students would be taught by a Guru (teacher), staying at his house, doing all the housework, tending to the fields or other vocation. It was training for life. Sort of Small-Schools-Movement meeting Residential Schools.
Mira Alfassa, one of the founders of Auroville, affectionately called the ‘Mother‘, oversaw the Aurobindo Society’s Education work for a long time. She was a tireless educator, always eager to ensure her schools provided what she called “a vital education” In her book, Mother on Education, she writes about Arts Appreciation:
“Aesthetic sense should be added as early as possible. Aesthetic sense is the capacity to choose & adopt what is beautiful, harmonius, simple, healthy and pure. The child should be shown, led to appreciate, taught to love the beautiful, lofty, healthy and noble things whether in nature and human creation- one who has this refinement will feel incapable of acting in a crude, brutal or vulgar manner; it will finding expression in his behaviour and protect him from base and perverse movements. “
I extend this train of thinking from appreciation to involvement. If a child is involved and then motivated to become engaged in an activity, he will “feel incapable of acting in a crude, brutal or vulgar manner; it will finding expression in his behaviour and protect him from base and perverse movements.” When talking about ‘create discipline’ in schools- what really should be called ‘creating engaging schools’ – this practice can be invaluable.
An aside: if you haven’t heard of Auroville, I recommend reading about it. You can do so here. Described as a place for humanity- of unending education, of constant progress, and youth that never ages, it is really quite remarkable in the quality of life it provides its citizens and in the community-service initiatives it undertakes. After the Asian Tsunami, as a volunteer in Nagappattinam, India’s most affected area, I noticed that Aurovilleans were the most sincere, dedicated and responsive of all the donor and non-governmental agencies assembled.