In South Africa Gandhi set up an ashram at Phoenix, where he started a school for children.
Gandhi 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.
Gandhi had his own way of judging students. All the students in the class were asked the same question. But often Gandhi praised the boy with low marks and scolded the one who had high marks. This puzzled the children.
When questioned on this unusual practice, Gandhi 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.”
Gandhi 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? Gandhi continually stressed this to his students. If a boy who was not very clever worked hard and did well, Gandhi was full of praise for him.