02: Gandhiji’s thoughts on education
Group 02 Readings
Making the Right Choice
Craze for Changing Text-books
The craze for ever-changing text-books is hardly a healthy sign from the educational standpoint. If text-books are treated as a vehicle for education, the living word of the teacher has very little value. A teacher who teaches from text-books does not impart originality to his pupils. He himself becomes a slave of text-books and has no opportunity or occasion to be original. It therefore seems that the less text-books there are, the better it is for the teacher and his pupils. Text-books seem to have become an article of commerce. Authors and publishers who make writing and publishing a means of making money are interested in a frequent change of text-books. In many cases teachers and examiners are themselves authors of text-books. It is naturally to their interest to have their books sold. The selection board is again naturally composed of such people. And so the vicious circle becomes complete. And it becomes very difficult for parents to find money for new books every year. It is a pathetic sight to see boys and girls going to school loaded with books which they are ill able to carry. The whole system requires to be thoroughly examined. The commercial spirit needs to be entirely eliminated and the question approached solely in the interest of the scholars. It will then probably be found that 75 per cent of the text-books will have to be consigned to the scrap-heap. If I had my way, I would have books largely as aids to teachers rather than for the scholars. Such text-books as are found to be absolutely necessary for the scholars should be circulated among them for a number of years so that the cost can be easily borne by middle class families.
Harijan, 9 September 1939 (CW 70, p. 153)
I keep on feeling that teachers in the true sense of the word are essential, no matter how good the text-books are. A good teacher would never content himself with summarizing or explaining the meaning of difficult passages. Time and again, he would go beyond the text-books and present his subject to the pupil in a vivid manner in the same way as an artist does. The best text-book may be compared to the best photograph. However, just as a painting by an artist although second rate is invariably superior to a photograph, similar is the case with a real teacher. A true teacher introduces the pupil to his subject, creates in him interest for the subject and enables him to understand it independently.
Navajivan, 16 June 1928 (CW 36, pp. 352–3) (Translated from Gujarati)
The teachers will have to come together at least once
a week to exchange ideas and make such changes as may be
called for. The intelligent students should be consulted
and their suggestions invited about methods of teaching.