educating the heart

December 22, 2013

Why should we educate the heart?

Is it possible to educate the heart?

How can we educate the heart?

These are some of the questions that this picture triggered….

Questions I would love to try and answer….

When we ask parents what they want for their children, the most common replies will be that they should be happy, they should do well in life, find their calling, be a good person….

Yet, when it comes to education, it is one sided….the focus is only on making the child smart, successful, better than the others, in other words, competitive. This starts in play group….fancy dress competition, sports, writing, colouring within lines and this will continue in increasing proportion of stress and pressure, for another 20 or so years.

There is a deep underlying fear in the heart of many parents, “there is so much competition…I don’t want my child to be left behind”. The education business cashes in on this insecurity and and promotes early learning.

So yes, the focus is on the education of the head….On filling it with information

Now the question is, what makes a complete human being? Who is a complete human being? What does it mean to be human? What is the meaning of the word ‘humane’

According to oxford dictionary:

  • having or showing compassion or benevolence
  •  inflicting the minimum of pain
  •  intended to have a civilizing or refining effect on people

According to another site (which I liked-

  1. (a.) Pertaining to man; human.
  2. (a.) Having the feelings and inclinations creditable to man; having a disposition to treat other human beings or animals with kindness; kind; benevolent.
  3. (a.) Humanizing; exalting; tending to refine.

According to these definitions, this is one of the most important aspects of being born as a Human Being- the capacity to show love and compassion.

Is this aspect being addressed by the education system? Can our current ceducation system that is based on competition, foster the development of compassion and cooperation?

Can we teach our children to put the needs of the others before ours- would we want to do that?

Could we just, for a moment assume that is kind of an education did exist, all the schools in the country practised it, and that it worked. Let us imagine the scenario….these are children who are kind, compassionate, cooperative, humane…putting others needs before themselves, not trying to push others down while trying to climb up, not corrupt, not manipulative, trying to do something for society while making a life for themselves….along with having successful careers!! Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t that bring us closer to making our children more human? Isn’t that what we want for our children to be complete, balanced human beings?

This brings us to the next question- is this possible? How?

Let us look at the phrase ‘the education of the heart’. Let us take the word heart and ‘free associate’. Think of all the words associated with it- feeling, love, emotion, soul, rhythm, life, breathing, expansion-contraction.

Hence we can say that the realm of the heart is the realm of the soul, the realm of emotions, the realm of expression, the realm of rhythms- the realm of art, the realm of music, the realm of life- enlivening, bringing things to life…..

So if we can incorporate all the above aspects into education in an inseparable way, the answer to the above question is yes, it is possible to educate the heart.


Through rhythmic activity, movement, music, verses,

through painting, sculpture and any artistic activity

by letting children connect to the lessons through art and creative expression

through stories, images that bring to life dead, abstract concepts,

by connecting lessons to real life experiences that a child can relate to

by making the lessons meaningful through stories and real, living, human examples

By surrounding the children with beauty, by helping children to appreciate art and beauty

As you can see, this is different from art as an extra curricular activity….where there is no connection to what the child is learning, seeing, feeling.

It goes without saying, that when a child learns this way through art and experience, the concept goes straight to heart and then there is no forgetting as the learning process involves the child and it is joyful.

One knows very well how this is done is our country today. Take art, music dance any of the classes. Are these an expression of the soul anymore? Or are they merely intellectualised courses aimed at certificate gathering?

When a child makes a beautiful drawing or a picture today one hears the comment “Oh! She draws so well! Why don’t you send her to art class?” What for? So the teacher can tell her only to use certain colours? To draw within lines? To draw ‘only as I say’? To pass grade exams?

Art helps us humans to connect to ourselves, to understand ourselves, to get to know ourselves. When we can do this, we can understand the other, we can get to know the other, to feel for another, to connect to the other.

So I believe that yes, it is possible to educate the HEART and there are ways to do it as it is already being done in many alternative and spiritually based schools. If we want to create a generation of thinking, caring feeling human beings, we need to incorporate these methods into all schools- not as extra curricular activities but as an intergral, inseparable part of the curriculum.

Here are some examples: – Division – Frac tions – Geometry– solid shapes and other examples – plant study – animal study – wet on wet painting

Geometry-7 intersecting circlesGeometry-7 intersecting circles

Animal studyAnimal study

Math- SolidsMath- Solids

wet on wet paintingwet on wet painting


Math- DivisionMath- Division

Those who are keen to learn more about Humanizing Education through art, music and movement, don’t miss the conference happening in Jan 2016 in New Bombay (

So we have so far seen the education of the head (intellect), the heart (emotion) and soon I will also share my bit about the third aspect that makes a human being complete- the education of the hands (will)

Thanks for reading,

Nirupama Rao