A Story from Gandhiji’s Life

In South Africa Gandhiji set up an ashram at Phoenix, where he started a school for children. Gandhiji had his own ideas about how children should be taught. He disliked the examination system. In his school he wanted to teach the boys true knowledge—knowledge that would improve both their minds and their hearts.

Gandhiji had his own way of judging students. All the students in the class were asked the same question. But often Gandhiji praised the boy with low marks and scolded the one who had high marks. This puzzled the children.

When questioned on this unusual practice, Gandhiji one day explained, “I am not trying to show that Shyam is cleverer than Ram. So I don’t give marks on that basis. I want to see how far each boy has progressed, how much he has learnt. If a clever student competes with a stupid one and begins to think no end of himself, he is likely to grow dull. Sure of his own cleverness, he’ll stop working. The boy who does his best and works hard will always do well and so I praise him.”

Gandhiji kept a close watch on the boys who did well. Were they still working hard? What would they learn if their high marks filled them with conceit? Gandhiji continually stressed this to his students. If a boy who was not very clever worked hard and did well, Gandhiji was full of praise for him.

by Uma Shankar Joshi

In the picture: Gandhi in South Africa, 1895 

You can read more on Gandhi here

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