Girijashankar Bhagwanji Badheka
|15 November 1885
Chittal, British India
|23 June 1939 (aged 53)
|Education, Reforms, Children's Education, Dakshinamurti
Gijubhai Badheka (15 November 1885 – 23 June 1939) was an educator who helped to introduce Montessori education methods to India. He is referred to as "Moochhali Maa" ("mother with whiskers"). Badheka was a high court lawyer, however, following the birth of his son in 1923, he developed an interest in childhood development and education. In 1920, Badheka founded the "Bal Mandir" pre-primary school. Badheka published a number of works in the field of education including Divaswapna ("Daydreams").
Badheka was born in Chittal in the Saurashtra region of western India. His given (first) name was "Girijashankar". Badheka grew up in Bhavnagar, a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat. In 1907, he moved to East Africa and later, Bombay for work. Badheka died on 23 June 1939 in Bhavnagar, India.
In 1920, Badheka founded the Bal Mandir kindergarten. Later, Nanabhai Bhatt, Harbhai Trivedi and Badheka built the "Shree Dakshinamurti Gijubhai Vinay Mandir" school in Bhavnagar.
After the completion of his schooling, Gijubhai got admission in Shamlal’s College, but for reasons unknown, he was not able complete his studies. In 1907, he was sent to East Africa by his family to earn a living. This is where he met S.P. Stevens, a solicitor who impressed upon Gijubhai the need for self-reliance — the utter refusal to depend on anybody but yourself — and Stevens put this into practice on a daily basis in his life. It was a wonder to Gijubhai to see how Stevens made his life without banking on anyone for anything and that it was possible, in fact exhilarating, to figure things out and work single-handedly.
On his return to India in 1910, Gijubhai studied law in Mumbai. He started his legal practice in 1911 as a district pleader and in the following year enrolled himself as a High Court pleader. On the personal front, it is believed, it was his mother’s brother, Hargovind Pandya, who inspired him. Gijubhai married twice. His first wife was Hiraben whom he married in 1902 when he was just seventeen. But Hiraben passed away young and then he married Jariben in 1906. Gijubhai became a father in 1913 when a son was born to him. Soon after his birth, when the young father picked up his little boy, for a few minutes he was sad and anxious. His own childhood flashed before his eyes. After all, like every child from a respectable family, his son too would have to go to school. And school for Gijubhai meant being caned daily for the slightest misdemeanour. As he held his newborn, Gijubhai knew that this little fellow too would have to go to school — a land of small terrors. "Wasn’t there a way out? Couldn’t there be a better way to teach and learn?" Gijubhai started asking questions. The real purpose of education, Gijubhai felt, was to have a teacher that understood the children that he/she was educating. If the child spent five or more hours with one person, five days a week, shouldn’t the child also get to love and genuinely respect the teacher?
Gijubhai, like all parents, wanted his son to be happy, safe and comfortable all through his life. He also realised that all parents forced their kids to schools and the best schools of the time had teachers who only knew how to teach through fear. Gijubhai felt that if children are treated with respect and there are enough meaningful learning opportunities, no child would abhor coming to school. In fact, they would look forward to being in a place where there were so many children and an adult who helped them explore the world around them. Could that be possible? Gijubhai worried about it. He turned to reading and researching. This is how he stumbled upon Maria Montessori and all that she had been working on.
All these readings taught Gijubhai the Montessori education wherein the role of an adult or a teacher is to only help unfold the hidden and inborn developmental powers of the child. The child already possesses everything. The adult is the facilitator. Maria Montessori believed that the child must be guided in the path of reaching adulthood because from the earliest moments of life children are possessed with great constructive energies that guide the formation of their mind and the coordination of their bodies.
Gijubhai devoured the book on Montessori Method. It was an introduction to another microcosm wherein teaching was done in the ‘play-way’ method. Enthused by all that he was learning, Gijubhai started spending more time with teachers and schools. Convinced that he had to be the change, in 1915 he assisted in the establishment of Dakshinamurti (Bala Bhavan) and then started a hostel at Bhavnagar. In 1916, he gave up his legal practice and joined Dakashinamurti as assistant superintendent.
Gijubhai’s contribution was the evolution of a system of child education suitable to Indian environment, training of teachers and creation of a body of literature for children. While liberally borrowing from the educational philosophies of Montessori, Fröbel, Dalton and others, he came up with a mixture of music, dance, travel, storytelling and outdoor play to fit Indian requirements. Freedom and love were the twin principles around which the system revolved. The school was an instant hit. Mahatma Gandhi, who himself had clear thoughts and views on learning, was very fond of Gijubhai Badheka. It was he who called Gijubhai ‘Moochali Ma’, or mother with whiskers, and the name stayed.
Badheka published close to 200 works including storybooks. His topics include children, education, travel and humour. However, his focus was books for children, parents and educators.
|Gujarati Translation of Free School OR A Dominie's Five by Alexander Sutherland Neill
|Gujarati Translation of Schoolboys by Nikolai Nosov
|Mahatmao Na Chitro
|Kishor Kathao Part 1 - 2
|Eosap Na Patro: Gadheda
|Africa Ni Safar
|Dadaji Ni Talwar
|Lal Ane Hira
|Aa Te Si Mathafod ?
|Sikshak Ho To
|Bad Jivan Ma Dokiu
|Sikshan Na Vehmo
|Davakhani Jay, Chadiyo
|Aagad Vancho Chopdi Part 1,2,3
|Patelad Ni Virangnao
|Sanj Ni Mojo
|Divaswapna - An Educator’s Reverie
|National Book Trust
|Originally in Gujarati then translated in many languages
|In Gujarati meaning My Cow
|Periodical published in over 5 volumes containing more than 100 stories
|Vaarta nu Shastra