EdwardThompson wasan English poet and critic having long association with Rabindranathanda number of other luminaries of Bengali culture such as the philosopher Brojendranath Seal, the artist Abanindranath Tagore, and PrasantaMahalanobis, thescientist.
This work attempts to capture the whole range ofRabindranath'sshort stories by selecting 26 of them, starting from , writtenin his early 20's and beautifully translated by Supriya Chaudhuri, toThe , a remarkable story written in the last year of his lifeand , first published years after hisdeath.
I invited thinkers and scholars from foreign lands to let our boys know how easy it is to realise our common fellowship, when we deal with those who are great, and that it is the puny who with their petty vanities set up barriers between man and man. (Rabindranath Tagore 1929: 73-74)
Rabindranath Tagore, by his efforts and achievements, is part of a global network of pioneering educators, such as Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Montessori and Dewey–and in the contemporary context, Malcolm Knowles–who have striven to create non-authoritarian learning systems appropriate to their respective surroundings. In a poem that expresses Tagore’s goals for international education, he writes:
Tagore, Rabindranath (1961) . Boston: Beacon Press.
Tagore’s educational efforts were ground-breaking in many areas. He was one of the first in India to argue for a humane educational system that was in touch with the environment and aimed at overall development of the personality. Santiniketan became a model for vernacular instruction and the development of Bengali textbooks; as well, it offered one of the earliest coeducational programs in South Asia. The establishment of Visva-Bharati and Sriniketan led to pioneering efforts in many directions, including models for distinctively Indian higher education and mass education, as well as pan-Asian and global cultural exchange.
Tagore Rabindranath. (1922) London: Macmillan & Co.
Rabindranath himself weakened some of hispowerfulstories in translation by leaving out details of Indianlife that he thought would be too foreign to non-Indian readers.
Tagore, Rabindranath (1917) . London: Macmillan & Co.
As well as growing up in a household that was the meeting place for leading artists and intellectuals from India and the West, Rabindranath had a further experience which was unusual for someone of his upbringing. In the 1890s, he was put in charge of the family’s rural properties in East Bengal. His first experiments in adult education were carried out there as he gradually became aware of the acute material and cultural poverty that permeated the villages, as well as the great divide between the uneducated rural areas and the city elites. His experiences made him determined to do something about rural uplift, and later at Santiniketan, students and teachers were involved with literacy training and social work and the promotion of cooperative schemes. As an alternative to the existing forms of education, he started a small school at Santiniketan in 1901 that developed into a university and rural reconstruction centre, where he tried to develop an alternative model of education that stemmed from his own learning experiences.