In “The Eastern University”, Tagore describes the establishment of a new “International University” which he believes will promote “mutual understanding between the East and the West” by inviting “students from the West to study the different systems of Indian philosophy, literature, art and music in their proper environment, encouraging them to carry on research work in collaboration with the scholars already engaged in this task.”

Tagore further states the following: 

It is my hope that in this school a nucleus has been formed, round which an indigenous University of our own land will find its natural growth—a University which will help India’s mind to concentrate and to be fully conscious of itself; free to seek the truth and make this truth its own wherever found, to judge by its own standard, give expression to its own creative genius, and offer its wisdom to the guests who come from other parts of the world.

How do Tagore’s views on the problems with education differ from Freire’s and Illich’s critiques, and how does his proposed solution also differ? Which author’s solution do you think is the most practically feasible? Which do you think has the greatest chance of success?

Tagore seems to have great faith in the University form of education. But is the University not a Western institution, structured to fit the Western socio-cultural framework? Given what you have observed (or your other knowledge) regarding the way education is currently performed in Universities, do you think Tagore’s ideas remain valid or would they need to be changed in any way?

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  1. I don’t see any of these thinkers having much influence on education anywhere. It’s unfortunate, but also rather inevitable that education should become that great human potential differentiator, the stamp we all receive that signals our ability and our willingness to succeed on this planet. As long as the people that run this place have a need to determine who can best work in their firm, we’ll never escape the need to feel tagged for success. Even for those of us able to rise above this economic reality education remains tainted from this influence. So while we may endeavor to reach some kind of pedagogical utopia, we will forever be held back by education’s convenience as a credentialing system for those in power.

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