We live our lives (“of quiet desperation”, as Thoreau put it) in the light of opposites – body and soul, violence and non-violence, truth and falsehood, sacred and profane, this world and the next, and so on. This common human predicament is naturally reflected in our role as educators–how we grapple with this division in ourselves and help children live a life that is not divided, broken up, in constant conflict. The interesting question is–what do we teach our children? Is it ‘only’ knowledge or, worse still, just information that we convey? We as teachers do take part (as midwives perhaps) in the process of making children see ‘connections’ between concept and application, fact and its significance, theory and practice; that is the pith of day-to-day schooling. But the bigger task of bringing about integration of the apparently dichotomous nature of reality that troubles us –how do we communicate this to the children and help them to face life, not merely to make a living? Krishnamurti gave the clue when he asked, “What do you teach when you teach History, Science or Maths?” and answered, “all you teach is attention!”
The journal has time and again approached the question of how we can bring about learning in children. In the last issue the editorial team attempted to answer the question of nurturing the motivation to learn. In the same and some previous issues the journal has carried articles that contained examples by which teachers have attempted to make both the texts and teaching methods meaningful. Writing our own textbooks, re-designing classrooms, more hands-on work for children especially in the science classes, field trips etc. are some of them. Behind all these is the aim of nurturing the child’s inquiring mind. How do we go about designing a curriculum that can do this? This is the middle ground, as it were, that lies between the educational vision of the schools and what is actually done on the ground.
Several of the contributors to this issue have attempted to identify this middle ground and articulate what it contains. The editors have put together an article titled ‘Curriculum for an Inquiring Mind’. As Ahalya Chari pointed out in the editorial of one of our earlier issues, “It is not as if we embrace one kind of approach when dealing with academics and quite another during what we call ‘K time’ or ‘Culture Classes’. The educational process must be regarded as one integral whole so that an artificial division does not take root in the mind.” The article on educational practices at Nachiket speaks of one attempt at creating such an integrated approach.
Despite the universal tendency to admire and even worship athletes and top players from many sports, physical education (PE) has somehow remained as a peripheral area in academic circles. At best it is treated as another ‘subject’ to be learnt. Is it possible to link PE to our central concern, namely of understanding ourselves? Sounds a tall order, does it not? ‘Towards a Philosophy of Physical Education’ stunningly illustrates the possibilities and promises that this rather sadly neglected area holds in bridging the mind-body divide and going beyond.
The falsity of yet another dichotomy, the sacred and the profane, and Krishnamurti’s emphatic rejection of such division, is examined in ‘The Teachings: Pushing the Envelope’. ‘Teaching History: Looking into the Mirror’ shows how this rather contentious subject can be taught through ‘the non-instrumental dimension’ that is simultaneously an act of learning about oneself and the world of the past in one single movement.
Articles on what makes a teacher, how to bring Krishnamurti into the timetable, and the beauty of Mathematics as also its limitations, are other pieces that can stand by themselves. They bring an assorted but relevant range of issues and insights to our notice.
One could go on. Oddly enough, several articles in this issue seem to explore the divisions in the human psyche, which have created so much misery within us and in the world outside. There is a suggestion here that integration in education does not just mean bringing together the many parts of the curriculum, but begins with a different movement–the movement of self-knowing.