Issue 21 - January 2017

So, is it not important to find out why we are confused? Can anybody, except a very few, say that they are not confused politically, religiously, economically? Sirs, you have only to look around you. Every newspaper is shouting in confusion, reflecting the uncertainties, the pains, the anxieties, the impending wars; and the sane, thoughtful person, the earnest person who is trying to find a way out of this confusion surely has first to tackle himself.

Last year when the Journal was being brought out there was deluge in many parts of the country, Chennai being the worst hit. This year around as the next issue is being brought out, we are anxiously awaiting rains. Water, whether it ravages or impoverishes, is a sustainable source of life. However, for water to be a life giving force, it needs to move on without stagnating. The same is true of life and its movement...

As I sat one morning in my office at Vasanta Vihar, gazing with a ‘vacant eye’ at the lovely garden with its great trees and shrubs, flowers and lawns, all bathed in the golden sunlight pouring down from the blue sky, displaying to the eye every shade of green from the lightest and most delicate of the lawn and of the bushes and flowering plants, to the deep cool shade of the plant nursery in the distance, it was as if, for a moment, there was no space between the retina and the scene displayed.

Conversations create spaces which build and nurture relationships. In these spaces, qualities of listening, patience and compassion are tacitly embedded and strengthened. It is one way we make meaning of the world in a collaborative manner, speaking with and listening to another.

Three statements I read recently from a talk of J Krishnamurti with students struck me as most significant as I was thinking about fear in schools for this conference.

The summer that I was 5-years-old, I took my first flight alone to spend my holidays with my grandparents. My parents prepared me well—they even read aloud and recorded my favourite stories on an audio cassette which we put into our Walkman for my long solo journey. But there was one question they neglected to answer.

In a previous issue of the Journal, I came across an interesting article by Kabir Jaithirtha, titled ‘What do I Teach when I Teach a Subject?’ This essay is an attempt to carry forward that conversation by asking a similar kind of question regarding the discipline of history.

My son is fifteen years old. We have both quick and deep conversations as a way of sharing what is uppermost in our minds. In the past, our exchanges have generally orbited around the four h’s—health, hygiene, homework and happiness. Lately, however, there has been a shift in favour of discussions pertaining to recurring attitudes and patterns of behaviour that are distinctly ‘me’-centric.

In astrobiology and planetary astronomy, there is an idea called the ‘Rare Earth Hypothesis’. It argues that the emergence and evolution of a complex multicellular life form on earth required an improbable combination of astrophysical and geological events and circumstances.

p>Each year we devote a week of our academic calendar to exploring a chosen theme at a deeper level than usual through immersing ourselves in it as completely as possible. As we thought of a theme for this year, some of us remembered spending entire afternoons outdoors playing ‘unorganized’ games as children...

A s I sit here on the back porch of Pine Cottage on a lovely late-summer afternoon, I feel a deep sense of tranquillity because I’m alone and yet enveloped in nature’s womb, soothed by the swooshing sounds of the leaves as they tremble and shake in the soft, warm breeze.

Technology is seen as a revolutionary agent in many fields of human endeavour, including education. Much has been written about the opportunity that technology provides in restructuring the entire approach to formal education.

When I was three, I had a friend
Who asked me why bananas bend,
I told him why,
but now I’m four I’m not so sure...

Richard Edwards

I walk into school every morning down a path strewn with differently-coloured flowers in the different seasons of the year. A yellow golden carpet when the copper pod tree is in bloom, a bright red when the gulmohar tree is blossoming and a fragrant white when the maramalli flowers gently waft down in the morning breeze.

During a discussion with a group of children about comparison, one of the students said, “When I am good at something, others come and talk to me about it. When someone who is better at the same thing joins the class, they go and talk to them, and I feel left alone. The attention I got was gone and that leaves me sad.”

The sense of agency we experience in daily life, our sense of control over ourselves and our environment, is deeply and intuitively felt, but it deserves thorough and critical examination.

I have been volunteering at the Krishnamurti Centre in Summer Hill, Sydney, since it was opened by Andrew Hilton in March 2012. It was a great opportunity for Krishnamurti Australia to generate interest in the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti in the city of Sydney.

Nature is part of our life. Our school campus has its natural beauty, still intact. There is silence and quietness that permeates and penetrates each one of us. To be in communion with that, to look at, love and admire everything around us—a flying bird, a beautiful pink flower on a touch-me-not plant, a broken branch—to be part of it, to be aware and feel that we belong to all that out there, is what we have attempted in our learning programmes.

In the context of a Krishnamurti Study Centre, small group and panel dialogues are often organized to bring people together to explore serious issues of life. Dialogue is different from debates or discussions.

We often speak of the importance of nature observation in our curriculum in Krishnamurti schools. How do we develop this sensibility in students and educators? The author grew up in a rainforest in Kerala and has, over many years of interacting with students, developed simple yet powerful exercises to facilitate processes of attention while in natural surroundings.

This little essay is about urgency, but it is about calm urgency, unhurried urgency. It is about the need for educators such as myself to be now what we must be tomorrow.

Oak Grove School works closely, not only with students, but also parents. This strong sense of community has been present since our founding in 1975 and continues to this day. Parents play an important part in our school.

Here’s what we know—healthy parent involvement in a student’s schooling has a positive impact on student learning. When home and school are on the same page and in true partnership, students benefit. We know that parents care deeply about their children and that most appreciate opportunities for meaningful participation in their child’s education. 

Oak Grove School is a place that values relationship. It is also a place that does not follow any prescribed teaching methods. However, over the years various teachers here have been trained in the Montessori approach. When this approach is adopted in its spirit, it has often been found to complement a Krishnamurti education at Oak Grove.

We want our children to learn English. We want good education, but we cannot afford school education in cities. So please start a school for us. T his was the aspiration of parents from the tribal community in Anaikatti, a village near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, situated in the foothills of the Nilgiris.

Over the course of two vacations, I have managed to go through the volume Education for Judgment: The Artistry of Discussion Leadership , a collection of seventeen essays edited by C. Roland Christensen, David A. Garvin, and Ann Sweet. I have found it a very meaningful and fruitful read, and would like to share my views.

This book, if judiciously read, will prove extremely useful for teachers, and teacher educators. It comprises 26 dialogues between Krishnamurti and teachers as well as parents of the Rajghat Besant School, Varanasi. The dialogues were held between December 1954 and January 1955. Though it might surprise some, the thoughts and ideas, discussed some six decades ago, remain tremendously relevant today.