Letter from Shri H.N. Dastur
to Principals of Bhavans Schools
Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, reserving 25 per cent of the seats for the socially disadvantaged and economically weaker sections of society, all the Bhavan's schools have to strive their best to implement the provisions of the Act.
For the first time, I have partly written my speech because I am aware that I am addressing a group of fortunate learned persons to whom God has given the opportunity and responsibility to prepare over 1 lakh 75 thousand children to be enlightened citizens of the world.
I am neither a scholar nor a learned person. I am not qualified to speak on the role and responsibility of teachers and principals. In fact, there is no subject of my talk. I can only share with you some random thoughts and observations. So this is not an address. I am just starting a dialogue with you which may trigger some new thought-process in you and me.
One of the basic objectives of the Bhavan's educational Mission is to help our young children acquire proficiency in the subjects they learn at the school but more importantly to grow up to be upright, independent – thinking, intelligent and fearless human beings with a sense of responsibility who can look after not only themselves but also the lesser fortunate fellow human beings around them. They should grow up to be young women and men with a sense of oneness of the entire universe – "the one in all and all in one", as our Founder Munshiji put it. It means the hatred, violence and separation – generating walls of caste, creed, region, religion, colour of skin and even nationality do not exist in their minds. They should realise the divine resides in everything and every living being.
What a huge mind-boggling but divine task! Bhavan's schools must have a student-strength between one lakh seventy five thousand to two lakhs. And it is a floating population as every year a few thousand go out and a few thousand come in. Imagine, if our success ratio in preparing our students to be enlightened and integrated human beings is even just 20 per cent, what tremendous creative contribution we can make to human society!
I know for sure that many of you are aware of this basic responsibility of ours. I am also aware that the Bhavan's schools strive hard to inculcate moral values in our children in various ways and by ingenious methods. That is why our schools have a high reputation. But what is the ratio of our success? I do not know because it is difficult to answer this question. What I know is that we certainly teach them well, they get very good marks, secure admissions in reputed institutes of higher learning and I believe make a material success of their lives by entering into various professions or by getting well-paid jobs or by being entrepreneurs.
What I am confident of is that those among them who, with the help of their teachers and parents, have grown to be enlightened human beings should now be spreading love and joy and harmony around them. They are the ones who are blessed with independent thinking arising out of their sincere efforts to come out of conventions, conformities, stereotyped slots and hackneyed traditions and practices.
They are the ones who have dared to be different, unconventional and fearless, not giving over-importance to the sense of security and material well-being which goes in the name of success. They are the ones who struggle for new ideas and out-of-box thinking with the spirit of adventure.
Teachers along with the parents have to play a most crucial role in this. It is therefore, necessary that periodic interaction takes place between the teachers and the parents. Principals have to be catalysts in this interaction. Interaction not on mass scale. In a group of people, 'group mentality' sets in. So preferably on one to one basis.
Principals' basic task is to teach. They are teachers first and everything else afterwards. They have to provide sophisticated and imaginative leadership which dictates less and co-ordinates more; which persuades gently and encourages sincerely; which helps teachers bring out the originality, free-thinking and fresh ideas from their inner self. Unless that happens, how would teachers in their turn do the same with students? Wanting to have yes-men as teachers is a recipe for disaster.
The key-issue is: a Principal should have ample time to think and think and think; to have a dialogue with his inner self; to dive deep into the world of saints and sufis and divine beings like Bhagwan Ramakrishna and to read original thinkers like Krishnamurty, Vinobaji, Gandhiji and other greats; to understand what is right and what is wrong; to keep himself aware of what is going on in the universe and formulate his own views. He should think and think what he should do to nurture and flower the innate humaneness, strength and spirit of the divine which resides in the innermost self of a student. This is more important and much more difficult than to teach them lessons from the text book which of course is necessary, but not the be-all and end-all of education.
Teachers should observe the children not only in class-rooms but should also observe them playing, eating, interacting with their school-mates and so on. Occasionally, have one-to-one meeting with students. Talk to him or her about his likes and dislikes, his desires, the situation at home, how he spends time at home, etc. etc. Occasionally, have one-to-one interaction with parents. Know all the facts about them.
Shri Dastur, Bhavan's Executive Secretary, delivered the Inaugural Address at the Conference of the Principals of all the Bhavan's Schools on December 10, 2015 at Kochi.Click To Read Full Speech »
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan,
K.M Munshi Marg,
Mumbai 400 007.
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