#NewEducationPolicy and #AncientIndianEducation

Ancient Indian Education, in many ways, seems to have anticipated the modern-day instruction idiom.  Some of their ideas, which have stood the test of time, are worth adopting, with adaptations, when formulating India’s #NewEducationPolicy.  Today I would like to discuss the concept of Sravana-Manana-Nididhyasana.

Listening to what is taught (sravana), reflecting on the meaning of what one has imbibed so as to acquire an intelligent understanding of what one has heard, read and discussed (manana), and contemplating on what one has learnt, to apply the learning or make connections with experience (nididhyasana) are compulsory steps to make a student’s learning complete.  Present-day schooling, with its crowded syllabus that demands a choc-a-bloc academic calendar allows little room for manana and nididhyasana.  Consequently, learning is facile and fleeting, far from the holistic and meaningful experience that education is meant to be.

One way to rectify this situation is by adopting a new curricular approach that is choice-based and credit-based, and also freeing evaluation from the constrict of testing for scholarship only through a written exam in academic or bookish knowledge. There should be room, instead, for a student to be tested for skills of multiple kinds: oral, written, presentation, acting, debating, in-class participation, raising questions, etc.  A re-think on the tyranny of grades and marks and substituting it with a credit-based system, akin to that adopted in many institutes of advanced learning could be an option.  This would automatically translate into cogitation and absorption of learning, and make institutionalised learning less mind-numbing and more meaningful.

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2 thoughts on “#NewEducationPolicy and #AncientIndianEducation

  1. I wonder how the ancient Indian process of testing and grading was. How did they test manana and nidhidhyasana? Was the kind of testing different for different systems of knowledge – for instance, it might have been primarily oral or written for philosophical studies, primarily practical for pottery or medicine… Further, what do you think is a way to bring back the diversity of subjects taught and learnt, to replace the rather uniform mechanisms of schooling, evaluation and employment that are the norm these days in India, and perhaps also in rest of the world?

  2. Good questions, and I can’t claim to have all the answers. It is possible to indulge in a bit of analytical thinking, based on records we have from various resources, to arrive at answers for some of the points raised. Manana and nididhyasana, for instance, were part of the studentship and a scholar would be probably accepted fully into the fold of the Acharya – as a sishya who could carry on the tradition of the knowledge espoused – only if the teacher was fully satisfied with the student’s progress. It seems both entry into a teacher’s custody and completion were extremely selective and tough. The teacher, it must be remembered, was someone who had earned the respect himself, having come through this tough process.

    As for diversity of subjects, it does exist in modern-day institutionalised education. However, the potential is dormant as many of the so-called ‘extra curricular’ activities do not receive the same importance as academic subjects that test for a very limited kind of intellect.

    Another important factor was that education in ancient India was for life, as the ultimate aim of the quest for knowledge was to attempt to free the mind of the trammels of the material world and seek the ultimate Reality.

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