Quest for Excellence in Education - Vivekananda Study Circle, IIT

 The quest for excellence in education began in 1967 when I cleared my ISC
 Wanted to do agricultural engineering
 Joined BITS, Pilani.
 Students not interested in knowledge. Only interested in marks.
 Quest spanned 17 years with the following important landmarks:
 J Krishnamurty - On education
 Ivan Illich - de-schooling society
 John Holt - how children learn
 Paul Goodman
 John Dewey
 Mahatma Gandhi
 Rabindranath Tagore
 Swami Vivekananda
This is not a lecture. I want to share with you ideas from which i have profited. In case you find them
useful you are welcome. There will be a question answer session in which you are welcome to ask any
Not One Original Man
..“And the result is that fifty years of this education has not produced one
original man in the three Presidencies. Everyman of originality that has
been produced has been educated elsewhere, and not in the country,
or they have gone to the old universities once more to cleanse
themselves of superstitions.”
Nobel prize committee awards original thinkers of
international standing
 The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901.
 From inception till 2011, total Nobel Prizes awarded
 USA bagged
 India bagged
 Indian Prize Winners are: Ronald Ross, Rudyard Kipling, Rabindranath Tagore, C.V. Raman,
Har Gobind Khorana, Mother Teresa, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Amartya Sen, Vs
Naipaul,venkatraman Ramakrishnan
 Only C.V. Raman is a product of Indian Colleges (British Times).
 The rest either did not attend an Indian College (Rabindra Nath Tagore) or did their creative
studies abroad.
 Swami Vivekananda made the above statement in 1897. In 115 years after the statement was
made, after C.V. Raman, Indian Universities have not produced another Nobel Prize Winner!
India Was a Great Contributor to World Thought
 Zero, decimal, pi, trigonometry, algebra, geometry, to mention just a few were
concepts given by India.
 Manufacture of zinc and rust free iron were Indian technologies.
 Nalanda and Taxila were possibly the earliest Global Universities.
 Will Durant, a leading Western historian, in his book Case for India, says, India
is “mother of us all.” According to Will Durant when the British came to India,
whether philosophy, science, technology, commerce, banking, textiles,
jewellery, porcelain, in all these, and many more fields, India was a world
We Have Produced Original Thinkers in Practically
Every Field of Endeavor.
What made this possible?
To answer this question we are putting forward a
hypothesis (a tentative explanation for a
phenomena, to be used as a basis for further
We are now going to put forward insights, that
we think, made it possible for India, to produce
original thinkers, in possibly every field of
For Learning to Take Place You Need
The Right Environment
 Learning took place in the company of an enlightened rishi in
Brahamcharya Ashrama till the age of 25 years.
 For the teacher pursuit of knowledge was not a profession but a
passion. Teacher had love for knowledge!
 The student who entered the ashrama had his priorities right:
student was a vidyarthi not a sukharthi. Student was
“desirous of knowledge” not in “pursuit of pleasure!”
 Environment is the key. A natural environment
encourages curiosity, exploration and communication.
 Teacher sets the tone. His passion for learning energizes,
sustains and nurtures the learning environment.
 Student has to be knowledge driven (vidyarthi) and not
pleasure driven (sukharthi).
Why 25 years of Brahamcharya Ashrama, in secluded natural
environment, with close monitoring and careful guidance?
 Many say today: “let the young generation do what they are doing. May be they are
 Modern neurology is discovering what the rishis possibly knew:
 Neuro-imaging techniques developed over the last decades have provided us with
astounding discoveries regarding brain changes during adolescence. We know for
example, that the emotional reactivity, impulsivity, and risk taking of the
teen years are directly associated with the neural remodeling processes
that begins around 12 or 13 years of age.
 Brain-imaging studies have changed our understanding of adolescence, as we reassess
what’s behind the recklessness, thoughtlessness, and carelessness of teens. Behaviors
once attributed to raging hormones or self-centeredness now appear also to be tied to
brain development during adolescence. Research in this area suggests that quite often
teens aren’t intentionally making bad choices and decisions. Rather, under certain
circumstances, there may be no real decision-making happening at all-particularly
when they are excited and hyped up.
 “….Teenisvulnerable ..Ultimately,bythetimeofmaturation,aroundage 22forfemalesand24formales,
mentalcapacity hasexpandedexponentially,butinthemeantime,teensoftenneed their
(Pg. 19)
parents to
 Teens need secluded environment, personal guidance
and mentoring because it is a biological,
physiological and neurological necessity. For original
thinkers to blossom, you need an environment that
fosters, encourages and supports learning.
 Once this is taken care of, let us look at the elements
that went into cultivating original thinkers?
Fundamentals That Promote
Original Thinkers
 Effective Knowledge
 Shraddha
 Power of Concentration
Acquired Knowledge
Effective Knowledge
Acquired Knowledge
 You Pick Up A Degree
Effective Knowledge
 Mastery of Subject
 Capability to Apply it Successfully
 Respond Creatively to New Challenges
How Is Effective Knowledge Acquired?
vkpk;kZr ikne~ vk/ksÙk] ikne~f'k";L; Loes/k;k]
ikne~ lg fo|kFkhZfHk%] ikne~ dkyØesu rq%A
Depends on expertise of teacher
Depends on capability of student
On discussion amongst students
Over time on practical application
by student
 There is no translation for this word in the English
 Shraddha when you have both respect and faith.
 To be the best in the world, you need shraddha in
yourself, shraddha in the teacher and shraddha in the
Shraddha in:
 Self
 Teacher
 Subject
(Pg. 60 & 36)
The Second Concept is Power
of Concentration
is directly proportional to
Purity of Mind
How to Improve Power of Concentration
 Increase purity of mind by monitoring inputs
 Increase mind control by following a fixed routine
 Practice meditation twice a day
Student entering the university is a sukharthi
He wants the degree, knowledge is incidental !
The degree will get him a fat salary, a house, a vehicle !
What are the most sought after on the campus?
- Pornography
- Liquor
- Drugs
- Gambling
Example of BITS, Pilani.

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