Friday, July 8, 2016
JIDHU KRISHNAMOORTHY'S Educational Views
Jiddu Krishnamurti was born on 11 May 1895 in Madanapalle, a small town in south India. He and his brother were adopted in their youth by Dr Annie Besant, then president of the Theosophical Society. Dr Besant and others proclaimed that Krishnamurti was to be a world teacher whose coming the Theosophists had predicted. To prepare the world for this coming, a world-wide organization called the Order of the Star in the East was formed and the young Krishnamurti made its head.
Krishnamurti is regarded globally as one of the greatest thinkers and religious teachers of all time. He did not expound any philosophy or religion, but rather talked of the things that concern all of us in our everyday lives, of the problems of living in modern society with its violence and corruption, of the individual's search for security and happiness, and the need for mankind to free itself from inner burdens of fear, anger, hurt, and sorrow. He explained with great precision the subtle workings of the human mind, and pointed to the need for bringing to our daily life a deeply meditative and spiritual quality.
It is essentially as a philosopher of mind that Krishnamurti looks at education. Krishnamurti is truly an educational philosopher in that his thinking is centred on education, on understanding its fundamentals as well as praxis. Krishnamurti addressed educational problems, even the nitty-gritties of day-to-day classroom teaching, squarely and directly. He dealt with them by probing into their very roots with his penetrating insights. His educational concerns are strikingly contemporaneous and global. They include: freedom and discipline, comparison and competition, learning through the senses, scientific temper, joy and creativity. A primary audience of his has been the educational community–schools, teachers, students and parents. Krishnamurti’s educational teachings also encompass such broad, general concerns of mankind as freedom, fear, god, living and dying, love and loneliness, peace and the future of humanity. It is against this awesome sweep of ideas and his deep love of humanity that one has to understand his educational philosophy.
Education is usually taken to be an organized, purposive activity, with pre-established goals. What sense can one make of Krishnamurti’s “truth is a pathless land…it cannot be organized…” and his ardent espousal of education and his setting up of a number of schools? The reconciliation of the apparent contradiction lies in K’s situating education in the active, existential, living present and consideration of education as a cooperative exploration by the teacher and student.
Krishnamurti sees education not with the eyes of a reformer, as a means to serve this or that end, but as an intrinsic, self-fulfilling experience requiring no further justification. The function of education, he said, is “to bring about a mind that will not only act in the immediate but go beyond…a mind that is extraordinarily alive, not with knowledge, not with experience, but alive”.“More important than making the child technologically proficient is the creation of the right climate in the school for the child to develop fully as a complete human being”. This means giving him “the opportunity to flower in goodness, so that he is rightly related to people, things and ideas, to the whole of life”
It is not possible to do justice to the richness of the body of K’s insights on teaching, learning and other aspects of education in a brief write-up. I quote a few below that have a significance all their own and leave a lasting impact.
Methods of education
The Point of Education: Education is essentially the art of learning, not only from books, but from the whole movement of life…learning about the nature of the intellect, its dominance, its activities, its vast capacities and its destructive power…learning it not from a book but from the observation of the world about you…without theories, prejudices and values (Letters to the Schools).
Principle of Method: If one really has something to say, the very saying of it creates its own style; but learning a style without inward experiencing can only lead to superficiality…Likewise, people who are experiencing, and therefore teaching, are the only real teachers, and they too will create their own technique. (Education and the Significance of Life, p.21, 48).
Schooling without Competition and Comparison: When A is compared to B, who is clever, bright, assertive, that very comparison destroys A. This destruction takes the form of competition, of imitation and conformity to the patterns set by B. This breeds…antagonism, jealousy, anxiety and even fear; and this becomes the condition in which A lives for the rest of his life, always measuring, always comparing psychologically and physically… Goodness cannot flower where there is any kind of competitiveness. (Letters to the Schools, p.80)
Learning through Observation: Learning is pure observation – observation which is not continuous and which then becomes memory, but observation from moment to moment – not only of the things outside you but also of that which is happening inwardly; to observe without the observer. Look not with your mind but with your eyes… Then you find out that the outside is the inside…that the observer is the observed (On Education).
Freedom and Order…if you want to be free…you have to find out for yourself what it is to be orderly, what it is to be punctual, kind, generous, unafraid. The discovery of all that is discipline… Freedom is not from something or avoidance of constraint. It has no opposite; it is of itself, per se. Clarity of perception is freedom from the self. Flowering of goodness in all our relationship is possible only in freedom (On Education).
The KFI schools
The KFI was established originally in order to set up an educational institution—the Rishi
Valley Education Centre in Andhra Pradesh. The origins of the KFI also lie in Krishnamurti’s
links with the Theosophical Society. Dr. Annie Besant (President of the Theosophical Society
at the time) was one of the seven founder-members of the KFI, which was originally a
charitable institution under the name of the Rishi Valley Trust, set up by Krishnamurti in
1928. Later, this Trust became the Foundation for New Education (in 1953) and eventually
the Krishnamurti Foundation India in 1970. The work of the Foundation includes education,
research and environmental programmes that are conducted in an overall perspective deriving
from Krishnamurti’s thought. Another major KFI activity is the preservation, acquisition and
publication of Krishnamurti’s works and materials relating to his life. Study centres and
retreats have also been set up at most of the school locations to enable people to be in places
of great quietude and natural beauty for study and reflection.
The KFI has focused on education to a large extent, and this resulted in the
establishment of two more schools in India, in addition to the existing five, after
Krishnamurti’s death in 1986. A significant aspect of the schools is their location in places of
great natural beauty and splendour. This is a result of Krishnamurti’s emphasis on learning in
natural surroundings, as well as the importance of physical space, to ensure harmony in
relationships and in developing a questioning, creative mind.
there are certain limitations in implementing Krishnamurti’s perspective on
education in State-funded schools in India, where certain basic necessities and infrastructure
such as safe drinking water, toilets and large spaces simply do not exist. A minimum structure
is thus necessary before teachers and students can work together for ‘right education’. The
obvious implication is that KFI schools are therefore the only places where Krishnamurti’s
perspective can be shared and developed. It is possible, however, that there are certain
universal features of the KFI schools that can easily be shared with, and developed by, other
schools. These include an abiding interest in and commitment to the environment and the
community in which the KFI schools are located.