Now that we’ve explored what he views as the purpose of education, and the important roles of parents and teachers, we can finish our review of Krishnamurti’s “Education and the Significance of Life” by considering the type of schooling he proposed.
Krishnamurti first places emphasis on the failure of large institutions:
A large and flourishing institution in which hundreds of children are educated together, with all its accompanying show and success, can turn out bank clerks and super-salesmen, superficial people who are technically efficient; but there is hope only in the integrated individual, which only small schools can help bring about.
He pushes us to re-think the common idea that we need to start on a large scale to effect change; that instead, we need to act, beginning with ourselves and our children:
Unfortunately, one of our confusing difficulties is that we think we must operate on a huge scale. Most of us want large schools with imposing buildings, even though they are obviously not the right kind of educational centers, because we want to transform or affect what we call the masses.
His emphasis on freedom and diligence of the educators, continues as he encourages those aligned with these ideas surrounding integration to start such schools:
Those who are aware of this [the need to understand the individual child’s capacities, tendencies, and difficulties], should come together and start a school that will have vital significance in the child’s life by helping him to be integrated and intelligent. To start such a school, they need not wait until they have the necessary means. One can be a true teacher at home, and opportunities will come to the earnest… Serious interest is the beginning of capacity, and both are strengthened by application.
Finally, Krishnamurti addresses a more pragmatic objective of education - to help children discover what they want to pursue as a profession:
The right kind of education should also help the student to discover what he is most interested in. If she does not find her true vocation, all her life will seem wasted; she will feel frustrated doing something which she does not want to do. So it is important for each one to find out what one wants to do, and then to see if it is worth doing. A boy may want to be a soldier; but before he takes up soldiering, he should be helped to discover whether the military vocation is beneficial to the whole of mankind.
I find these to be motivating reminders: that we need to begin with the means available to us; that the earnestness and objectives of educators is critical; and that there can still be emphasis on career choices alongside integral development.
Although he passed away in 1986, Krishnamurti definitely left a legacy, with nine official schools running across India, the US and the UK. (Learn more about them here.)
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!