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:
The purpose of education is to cultivate right relationship, not only between individuals, but also between the individual and society; and that is why it is essential that education should, above all, help the individual to understand his/her own psychological process. Intelligence lies in understanding oneself and going above and beyond oneself.
Krishnamurti also critiques the emphasis on accumulating information, while acknowledging the role of technical knowledge:
While it is obviously necessary to know how to read and write, and to learn engineering or some other profession, will technique give us the capacity to understand life? Surely, technique is secondary.
In addressing the danger of setting ideals for children (whether in educational institutions, or as parents), and in conditioning them, Krishnamurti makes his views clear:
The right kind of education consists in understanding the child without imposing upon her an ideal of what we think she should be. To enclose her in the framework of an ideal is to encourage her to conform, which breeds fear and produces in her the constant conflict between what she is and what she should be; and all inward conflicts have their outward manifestations in society.. If a child lies for example, of what value is it to put before her the ideal of truth? One has to find out why she is telling lies. To help the child, one has to take time to study and observe her, which demands patience, love and care.
Krishnamurti’s emphasis on the primary importance of self-understanding; the secondary importance of technique and profession; and the understanding of the individual child, all resonate very strongly with me. In practice, I’m curious as to how this plays out at the Krishnamurti schools; and I will follow up with a post on the schooling Krishnamurti called for in the next few weeks!
A passionate educator.. on a quest for a schooling model to love!