A poem in a medium not of words: Music, dance and arts education in Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan
by Matthew Pritchard, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge, UK
Published in Arts and Humanities in HE Humanities Special Issue 13 (1-2) 2014 Calls to Action and Exemplary Essays, http://ahh.sagepub.com/content/13/1-2/101.full.pdf+html
In light of recent attempts to defend the role of the arts in education against the effects of policies based on utilitarian principles, this paper examines the arts educational writings and practical projects of Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) at Santiniketan in West Bengal, showing how they were motivated by a Romantic and Upanishadic philosophy centred on the anti-utilitarian concept of ‘surplus’.
While the development of Santiniketan’s present arts and music departments away from Tagore’s original ideals is acknowledged and traced, I argue that Tagore’s aesthetic and educational philosophy still contains much to challenge us. In many ways, his thought can be seen as more compatible with progressive and liberal arts education than the ideology of high modernism that developed at the same period in Europe.