Slow Learning Hall of Fame: Rabindranath Tagore


Rabindranath Tagore with nothing but time on his hands
Slow Learner, Philosopher, Artist, Musician, Composer, Poet, Novelist, Playwright, Nonauthoritarian Learning Leader, Nobel Laureate, School fund-raiser, Doodler, Underneath-the-tree-sitter/thinker

Born May 7, 1861
Died August 7, 1941

“Hunger for the Epic”

Highlights of Slow Learning Super Powers:

  • Wrote  first poem at the age of eight.
  • Started painting and drawing at the age of sixty.
  • Wrote songs, including two national anthems
  • Founded schools (an outdoor children’s school, university, and rural school)
  • Proclaimed that learning might be natural, sympathetic, and pleasurable
  • Extreme multidisciplinarian
  • possibly gifted with Attention Surplus Syndrome (aka ADD)

Tagore on feeding hungry children:

We have come to this world to accept it, not merely to know it.  We may become powerful by knowledge, but we attain fullness by sympathy.  The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.  But we find that this education of sympathy is not only systematically ignored in schools, but it is severely repressed.  From our very childhood habits are formed and knowledge is imparted in such a manner that our life is weaned away from nature and our mind and the world are set in opposition from the beginning of our days. Thus the greatest of educations for which we came prepared is neglected, and we are made to lose our world to find a bagful of information instead.  We rob the child of his earth to teach him geography, of language to teach him grammar.  His hunger is for the Epic, but he is supplied with chronicles of facts and dates…Child-nature protests against such calamity with all its power of suffering, subdued at last into silence by punishment. (Rabindranath Tagore, Personality,1917: 116-17)

Tagore on the pleasures of slow:

A Moment’s Indulgence

I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works
that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite,
and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.

Today the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and
the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.

Now it is time to sit quite, face to face with thee, and to sing
dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure

For more on Tagore as Slow Learner and Slow Learning activist: Check out Kathleen O’Connell’s post on Infed.

a cure for outrage overload: the slow long now

Whenever I get too upset with current events, I find it comforting to step back, to change perspective, and to take a good, long, slow view of things.

My favorite Slovenian industrial metal band’s song, Kingdom of God, reminds me we won’t be here forever.0292-laibach_02

The John Cage As Slow As Possible Project involves a performance lasting over  639 years. Don’t laugh. They’re already almost nine years in. cage5

And, now, at long last, I’ve found this:  The Long Now Foundation.


Talk about a gifted group of slow learners! The Long Now board includes Stewart Brand (remember Whole Earth Catalog?), Chris Anderson  of Wired Magazine, Brian Eno (yes, the composer, producer, superstar) and a whole gaggle of other legendary hot geeks.

The Long Now Foundation boasts the world’s slowest computer,  uses five digit dates (02009), supports a 10,000 year clock, hosts seminars in long-term thinking, offers some geeky thing called a long server, and supports the Rosetta Project, the “largest collection of linguistic data on the Net.