Monday, 31 October 2011

Teaching, upbringing and the will

Swami Vivekanada

On a cold, wet, windy day in 2007 I made the difficult journey to Tividale, a wilderness lying somewhere between Dudley and Sandwell, to visit Europe’s largest Hindu temple, a trip that I shall never forget. I really ought to go back there in blazing-hot high summer, to see whether the experience appears any the less disorientingly paradoxical.

There was a small, temporary display in the entrance foyer, on Swami Vivekanada. One of the display documents caught my eye and I jotted down something that the Swami had said on the purpose of education. I present this here, as I have paraphrased it into more modern English –

The end of all learning, all teaching, should be to create human beings. The end, the aim of all teaching is to develop human beings. Teaching, through which the energy and the expression of the will are brought under control and become fruitful, is called education. 

I have no particular reason to think that any echoes of the teachings of Swami Vivekanada’s (died in 1902) resounded down and across to András Pető. I did, however, find his words satisfactorily evocative and, being displayed in otherwise so alien a context, strangely reassuring about there being universal principles within in all good pedagogy and upbringing, whatever an author’s particular philosophical base. To put it differently, it is not Conductive Education that is the odd one out…

Or maybe this is but an illusion, created through the process of my own paraphrase!


Swami Vivekanada.’s published work is extensive. Most deplorably I have neither time nor inclination to hunt out the context of the passage quoted here, and I recognise the possibility that the overall philosophy of which this is a part might prove rather less attractive to me.

Conductive World’s computer problems remain resolved but I have jury-rigged my old HP Pavilion tower and via memory sticks and a nearby Internet café, achieved a bit more online access pending more fundamental solution:

Along the way I have found loads of ‘old stuff’ in the Pavilion’s memory and on the sticks – including a mountain of materials towards a further book on Mária Hária’s pedagogy, displaced from the forefront of attention Mária Hária when I began blogging. Look out for some of its eventually coming on line.

As for Tividale and that Swami…

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