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.