It helps to create a modern, secular and civilized society
This is a Western education tradition. Let us also redeem our heritage and let us teach some classics.
In India too, there is this tradition. Yet, we haven’t progressed into a modern nation, a more humane tradition; a more enquiring, more critical scholarly tradition hasn’t evolved here. There are some serious questions. Some critical question remains to be asked. There are many number of classics, we mean literary traditions.
Western tradition traces it to Greek and Roman traditions. In the East, of course, we can trace this to the Indian and Chinese traditions.
In India we have our own classics as Mahabharata and Ramayana, among other things.But the Western tradition is very secular. There is philosophy, history, why, even politics and ethics. Plato and Aristotle stand as shining stars. Now, the Western European schools and universities study classics, the Greek and Latin languages are taken as serious academic studies. Greek and Latin were taught as languages in secondary schools in England and European schools.
Now, in India we of course had a tradition in the pre-British era. There were the old style teaching and learning of Sanskrit in India for long. After Macaulay we have became a different nation. We learnt English and became clerks. Now, in independent India where are the languages?
Today, the Centre wants to introduce Sanskrit in schools. Please do. But much more important is to understand the very core spirit of teaching classics. Classics impart the wisdom of the ages. We are exposed to certain eternal verities. Eternal truths and the ethics of right and wrong, truth and falsehood. This takes the learners beyond the immediate day to day concerns.
Today education in India has become so gross materialist and is meant for immediate market demands. Education without classics teaching is like producing robots; they become just cogs in the machine. Such an education doesn’t contribute to create a civilized society.
The 1974 Encyclopedia Britannica has some 100 pages on education. Now, in 2015 you can’t disown history, can you? So, schools, at least some good schools, some idealistic schools have to have the courage, moral courage and to swim against the current. Let us redeem our heritage, let us teach some classics.
This is one world, a global village. So, we have to prescribe, by some expert educators, a mix of Greek and Latin classical texts and also incorporate Indian and Chinese classics, Buddhist and Confucian tenets.
There are lots of texts. Just now, I saw one such text. Greek Historical Thought, a Mentor book, by Arnold Toynbee. There are of course many others too.
Let India take the initiative. Let us help to create a modern, secular and civilized society.