Recently, I've been coming across posts and people who believe in a "free" approach to education, allowing kids' natural exploration guide their own learning, and having them do this outside the confines of a formal school. I like this in theory; but in practice I wonder about the competencies parents need to guide this experiential learning. Continuing on from my post on the ‘right kind of education’, Krishnamurti places a lot of emphasis on the role of both parents and teachers. With the challenge of developing integrated individuals, parents and teachers need to be integrated themselves.
One of my favourite Krishnamurti quotes sums this up:
What we are in ourselves is much more important than the traditional question of what to teach the child.
He goes on to explain that our fears from childhood are often not dispelled by parents nor teachers, which is dangerous as we grow up with these fears dominating our judgment and preventing deeper learning:
..there cannot be intelligence as long as there is fear. Fear perverts action and is one of the causes of self-centered action.. To be without fear is the beginning of wisdom, and only the right kind of education can bring about the freedom from fear in which alone there is a deep and creative intelligence.
Krishnamurti also boldly calls parents out for failing to care enough to transform society, and instead continuing the status quo:
Today, I decided to ‘unfollow’ a friend on my Facebook newsfeed due to her crude comments towards the attacks on Gaza. With friends across religions (and no religion at all!) it was unsettling to have to hide her posts.
This woman's post was about how she wished her leaders would grow a pair (it was actually along the lines of someone lending him a pair) so they could fight off all the critics and and stick to their attack on Gaza. How could a smart, well travelled and ‘educated’ woman, be oblivious to the killing of innocent women, children and men, that was happening?
I won’t comment on the politics and so-called leaders who are responsible for these killings (According to the Globe and Mail, over 400 Gazans have been killed in two weeks, along with 18 Israelis). But as an educator, I will say that key stakeholders in education have a significant, albeit more general, role in all of this, especially if we accept Krishnamurti's assertion that education's purpose involves how we relate to ourselves and one another. Parents perpetuate their own fears (and hatred) by passing them on to the next generation; schools and teachers typically fail to push students to analyze different sides of an issue and to be aware of what is happening right now, in the real world. The curriculum and textbooks don’t often promote media literacy over a passive acceptance of ads, assertions, and propaganda.
What a beautiful weekend here in Toronto! Under sunny skies, it felt great to “pause” for some time by the lake yesterday.
As I waited for a friend to join me, I started to re-read one of my favourite books, "Education and the Significance of Life", by Jiddu Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers and teachers of our time, speaking about issues ranging from the constant struggle we have for security, moving beyond religious divides, and perhaps most pertinent, how to live a deeply fulfilling and integrated life. In this book he puts forth his views on the radical reforms needed in education, a perfect segue from my last post.
Taking an important step (leap!) back, Krishnamurti pushes us to think fundamentally about the purpose of education, and focuses on the importance of self-knowledge and individual freedom. In a chapter on “The Right Kind of Education” he expands:
I recently attended an really inspiring conference with the theme of transforming our learning experiences at Queen’s. After three full days, I was not disappointed - and I’m excited to share!
One of the keynote speakers, Eric Mazur, was a physics prof from Harvard. Mazur has been working in the university circuit for nearly 30 years, and has earned a reputation for reforming lectures to be more interactive, and assessment to be more relevant.
Mazur opened with reference to this funny sketch on the "five minute university" by "Father Guido Sarducci" (total throwback SNL character), and sadly the sketch is still relevant 24 years later:
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!