TREE Academy's Heroes: Mahatma Gandhi

9 Mar 2017

TREE Academy seeks to harness students’ interests and capabilities through Passion Projects, in Learning Labs — where students can complete assignments with the assistance of teachers and fellow students — as well as in one-on-one tutoring for each and every core subject, each and every week of the school year. 


The mission of TREE is in its name: the Academy for the Creative Arts, New Technology and Social Justice.  But what about the people who influenced and inspired the founders of this unique, brand new, school? Their names can be seen on the walls of our Learning Lab and on the doors of each of our classrooms. They are activists, writers, and philosopher queens and kings of yesteryear, including Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, Lucretia Mott, Rumi, Desmond Tutu and Fannie Lou Hamer.  


But who are these people, what did they teach the world, and how have they inspired entire generations? For each story in this ongoing series, we will explore one of these individual’s stories and connect their life and legacy to TREE Academy’s mission.


Mahatma Gandhi


Mahatma Karamchand Gandhi, born on October 2, 1869, in India was raised in a merchant caste family, an occupational community of bankers and merchants, in Gujarat, which is on the western coast of India just south of Pakistan. He was the fourth child born to Karamchand Gandhi, a chief minister of Porbandar state, and was privileged with an amazing education. However, his mother was worried about college, because Gandhi wanted to go to college away from India, and the family was worried that they would not have enough money for his career.


Gandhi trained in Indian law in London, at the Inner Temple, part of the four Inns of Court, which are professional associations for judges and barristers (lawyers who work on a higher level of law). 


Gandhi first started non-violent civil disobedience in South Africa as a lawyer. Gandhi was 24 when he arrived in South Africa as a representative for the Muslim Indian Traders. What really shaped him into the man known today was the racial discrimination he experienced in South Africa. He was thrown off a train after refusing to move from First Class in Pietermaritzburg. That started the seeds of his way of non-violent civil disobedience, and the next day he protested and was let on the train, in first class. He was also asked to remove his turban, which he refused to do. When he tried to walk the public footpaths he was kicked off because Indians are not allowed to walk the public footpaths. This opened his eyes to non-violent civil disobedience, and Gandhi began to question his people’s standing is the eyes of the British Empire. 


In 1915, he returned to India at the request of Gopa Krishna Gokhale, who was one of the social and political leaders during the Indian Independence Movement against the British Empire in India. Gandhi’s first major achievement in India was in 1918 when he worked with the Satyagraha agitation movements in the Bihar and Kheda districts to pit the Indian peasants against the British landlords who were supported by the administration. The Indians were forced to grow Indigo and sell it to the planters at a fixed price. The workers talked to Gandhi to help them in their dilemma. Gandhi used his nonviolent method and was able to take the administration by surprise and won concessions from the authorities for the workers. 

“The future depends on what we do in the present.” This quote can be seen in TREE’s Learning Lab. It means that our future is determined by how much we apply ourselves at school, and Gandhi’s words encourage us to take advantage of the learning resources we are lucky to have here at TREE.

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