I feel that learning in general, including in schools, is the incremental acquisition of knowledge or information in time, which by its very nature may thwart the process of discovery, by establishing in the mind a framework or paradigm of how to deal with the unknown. Discovery, on the other hand, is not of time. It is unpredictable, without a timetable, and hence too often inefficient. It may happen with the unknown as well as with something learnt. So, for example, the learning of any language would involve teaching, step by step, the grammar, and so on, to a child, based on age and perceived comprehension ability. Whereas, the discovery process would mean immersing the child in a class where only that language is spoken, without regard to any format, and have him/her discover the intricacies of the language under guidance. The time for acquisition of a language may be predictable with the first approach whereas the latter is completely unpredictable since for the first few weeks the child is just 'hanging out', listening, without apparent comprehension.
However, once the brain begins to make connections on its own, the process may be explosive.
Similarly, in science, by teaching a child the laws of physics and explaining why things happen the way they do, no matter how eloquently, through actual demonstrations, discovery may be compromised. For the child, the framework of comprehension and acquisition would become established with respect to an unknown process or phenomenon.
Sometimes discovery happens despite learning, when one discovers what one had learnt years before.
We can ask what would be the purpose in having each child 'rediscover' that which has already been discovered in human consciousness. Why not have each person merely 'learn' what someone else has discovered about the outer and inner world (this includes science and the humanities)? This would truly accelerate the process of further discovery because once something has been discovered, it becomes common knowledge, which could be progressively accumulated through generations. Indeed, this seems to be the accepted way of learning.
But is it possible that this is perhaps the fundamental reason for all our psychological problems? We become unable to discover ourselves, and presume that to resolve our problems we need to learn more and more about ourselves. This approach directly draws from our schooling. Some may say that we just need to be adept at making distinctions between where such an approach is useful and where it is harmful. The problem with that is that the division inside the brain between the psychological and the biological is a fuzzy one and secondly, the very nature of thought is such that it is unable to have the wisdom of perceiving this difference, were one to exist!
When we try to learn about ourselves, I feel the process is like looking into a mirror (this analogy is used a little differently from the way Krishnamurti used it). Reflecting and thinking about the self is like examining a reflection in the mirror. What one sees is the image, and it is true that the more attention one pays to the image the more one learns about the object. However, it is intrinsically a divisive process, in the sense that one reality (the object) has been split into two, the object and the image. One cannot change the object by changing the image in the mirror. So no matter how much one learns about the object through the image in the mirror, one can never effect a transformation because all attemptsby the image are futile! To effect any true change, the object has to be discovered.
One can ask the same question here, as to why a fact about the human condition that has been discovered by a 'wise' person has to be rediscovered by others. Why can't they just learn it? While it is true that reading or listening to discoveries of wise people acts as a mirror and points out to us our condition, it may also cripple us if we are dependent on building upon such discoveries. For example, I wonder if Einstein would have ever come upon relativity had he not rediscovered a world view rather than taking Newton's worldview as something to build upon.
If what is suggested seems accurate, this poses a challenge for teachers. What is their role? To facilitate discovery by the child? How does one do that? What will happen to curricula? I propose an ongoing dialogue on these questions.