Question: What is the significance of history in the education of the young?
J. Krishnamurti: If one has read history it is fairly clear-that man has struggled against nature, conquered it, destroyed and polluted it; man has struggled against man; there have always been wars. Man struggles to be free and yet he becomes a slave to institutions and organizations from which in turn he tries to break away, only to form another series of institutions and organizations. There is an everlasting struggle to be free. The history of mankind is the history of tribal wars, feudal and colonial wars, the wars of the kings and nations; and it is all still going on; the tribal mind has become national and sophisticated—but it is still the tribal mind. The history of man includes its culture; it is the story of the human being who has gone through all kinds of suffering, through various diseases, through wars, through religious beliefs and dogmas, persecution, inquisition, torture in the name of god, in the name of peace, in the name of ideals.
And how is all that to be taught to the young? If it is the story of mankind, the story of human beings, then both the educators and the young are the human beings; it is their story, not merely the story of kings and wars, it is a story of themselves. How can the educator help the student to understand the story of himself, which is the story of the past, of which he is the result? That is the problem. If you are the educator and I am the young student, how would you help me to understand the whole nature and structure of myselfmyself being the whole of humanity, my brain the result of many million years? It is all in me, the violence, the competition, the aggressiveness, the brutality, the cruelty, the fear, the pleasure and occasional joy and that slight perfume of love. How will you help me to understand all this? It means that the educator must also understand himself and so help me, the student, to understand myself. So it is a communication between the teacher and myself; and in that process of communication he is understanding himself and helping me to understand myself. It is not that the teacher or the educator must first understand himself and then teach - that would take the rest of his life, perhaps - but that in the relationship between the educator and the person to be educated, there is a relationship of mutual investigation. Can this be done with the young child, or with the young student? In what manner would you set about it? That is the question.
How would you as a parent go into this, how would you help your child to understand the whole nature and structure of his mind, of his desires, of his fears-the whole momentum of life? It is a great problem.
Are we prepared, as parents and teachers, to bring about a new generation of people, for that is what is implied-a totally different generation of people with totally different minds and hearts? Are we prepared for that? If you are a parent, would you give up for the sake of your child drink, cigarettes, pot, you know, the whole drug culture and see that both you and the child are good human beings?
The word ‘good’ means well-fitting—psychologically, without any friction, like a good door-you understand? like a good motor. Also, ‘good’ means whole, not broken up, not fragmented. So, are we prepared to bring about, through education, a good human being, a human being who is not afraid – afraid – of his neighbour, afraid of the future, afraid of so many things, disease, and poverty? Also, are we prepared to help the child and ourselves to have integrity? The word ‘integrity’ also means to be whole and to say what you mean and not say one thing and do something else. Integrity implies honesty. Can we be honest if we have illusions and romantic and speculative ideals and strong beliefs? We may be honest to a belief but that does not imply integrity. As it is, we bring children into the world, spoil them till they are two or three, and then prepare them for war. History has not taught human beings; how many mothers must have cried, their sons having been killed in wars, yet we are incapable of stopping this monstrous killing of each other.
If we are to teach the young we must have in ourselves a sense of the demand for the good. Good is not an ideal; it is to be whole, to have integrity, to have no fear, not to be confused; these are not ideals, they are facts. Can we be factual and so bring about a good human being through education? Do we really want a different culture, a different human being, with a mind that is not confused, that has no fear, that has this quality of integrity?
From Questions and Answers
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