Krishnamurti questioned the schools constantly about why they were producing mice instead of lions and gazelles. Occasionally, in an interview or at a public question and answer session, he would in turn be queried about the purpose of setting up the schools and on what was happening in them. Obviously, these were not questions in the sense of a factory manager reprimanding his quality control supervisor, who has to ensure that goods are produced according to clearly laid down standards. Such questions call for a great deal of reflection on the part of the questioned before an adequate response can be given.
Likewise, is it time to ask ourselves about the ‘aim and purpose’—to borrow Krishnamurti’s phrase—of the Journal, now in its seventeenth year?
Interestingly, we came to know recently that it was Krishnamurti himself who desired that a journal be brought out by the schools. He stated that the purpose of the journal would be to bring and hold together the schools so that it would not be Indian, English or American. He spoke of how each school should not only evolve a high academic standard but bring in the teachings while educating children. He felt that it was important for each school to develop something original in its academic approach, community living and relationship to the environment. He pointed out that the schools should become places of understanding the world and the society we live in, to develop in the young a comprehensive and global outlook, not a parochial one. Any original work schools do in these directions should be shared with others by way of contributions to the journal. This need not, however, preclude their writing about other matters of wider educational interest.
As we know, just over a decade after Krishnamurti’s passing, the Journal of Krishnamurti Schools came into being in 1997. You are holding the seventeenth issue in your hands. A look at the contents pages of the issues down the years indicates that the exhortations Krishnamurti made seem to be at work. Does this mean we pat ourselves on the back for the good job we have done and continue to do in our schools? Obviously not. Krishnamurti made his formidable demand on teachers again and again, not satisfied with what was happening in the schools. It is therefore essential that—collectively, as a teacher body—we keep exploring ‘life at school’ as it were, in all its manifestations. In an individual mode, through this exploration within herself and in her relationship with the students, the teacher/educator may come upon a proper response to Krishnamurti’s challenge.
This issue is remarkable in that it contains contributions from all the schools in the extended family of Krishnamurti schools. Looking at the wholehearted participation of the schools in making the journal so rich and various, it does seem that we are thinking together as ‘one school’.
The sumptuous collection of articles that await the reader covers a vast area of school life: deep ruminations; critical examinations of the concrete and the abstract; classroom practices; and creative and thoughtful ways of teaching specific areas of a subject, the environment and the arts. In them, we have young teachers rubbing shoulders with others who have been ‘in the business’ for long years. A constant theme that runs across several articles is the relationship between the teacher and the student, expressed in a myriad ways by teachers of varying vintage. One remarkable strand in the thinking of a young teacher is the troubled questioning of her predicament: Am I exercising authority even when I am trying to reach out to the student to help her work through her academic and psychological problems? Is there an element of coercion in the relationship? Am I merely transferring knowledge to the young? This leads us to ask: As the years roll by, does the fire still burn?
Going back to Krishnamurti’s reference to lions and mice, yet another zoological metaphor comes to mind—that of the hedgehog and the fox. I would suggest that many students emerge from our schools equipped with the simplicity and clarity of the hedgehog (which only needs to keep out of harm’s way with its one weapon) as well as the wit and resilience of the fox in negotiating the treacherous territory of the large predators.
Meanwhile, have a whale of a read!