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woensdag 2 mei 2012

Educating the Educator: abandoning Idealism in Teaching (part 1 of 2)

 This article first appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of Parabola magazine. The meeting of which this article is a record took place in Bombay, India, on March 13, 1948. Though open to the general public, it was intended primarily for educators and teachers. The questions raised and the answers given are as relevant today as they were in 1948.

 Throughout the world, it is becoming more and more evident that the educator needs educating. It is not a question of educating the child, but rather the educator, for he needs it much more than the student. After all, the student is like a tender plant that needs guiding, helping; but if the helper is himself incapable, narrow, bigoted, nationalistic and all the rest of it, naturally his product will be what he is. So, it seems to me that the important thing is not so much the technique of what we teach, but the intelligence of the educator himself.

 Throughout the world, education has failed, because it has produced the two most colossal and destructive wars in history. Since it has failed, merely to substitute one system for another seems to me to be utterly futile. But if there is a possibility of changing the thought, the feeling, the attitude of the teacher, then perhaps there can be a new culture, a new civilisation. In the midst of all this chaos, misery, confusion, and strife, surely the responsibility of the teacher -- whether he is a government employee, a religious teacher, or a teacher of mere information -- is extraordinarily great.

 So, our problem is not so much the child -- the boy or the girl -- but the teacher, the educator. And to educate the educator is far more difficult than to educate the child, because the educator is already set and fixed. He functions in a routine, because he is really not concerned with the thought process, with the cultivation of intelligence. He is merely imparting information, and a man who merely imparts information when the whole world is crashing about his ears is surely not an educator. Do you mean to say that education is a means of livelihood? To regard it as a means of livelihood, to exploit the children for one's own good, seems to me so contrary to the real pupose of education.

 You can provide the right environment, the necessary tools, and all the rest of it, but what is important is for the educator himself to find out what all this existence means. Why are we living, why are we striving, why are we educating, why are there wars, why is there communal strive between man and man? To study this whole problem, and to bring our intelligence into operation, is surely the function of the real teacher.

 The teacher who does not demand anything for himself, who does not use teaching as a means of acquiring position, power, or authority, the teacher who is really teaching -- not for profit, not along a certain line, but who is giving, growing, awakening intelligence in the child because he is cultivating intelligence in himself -- such a teacher has the primary place in civilisation. After all, all great civilisations have been founded on the teachers, not on engineers and technicians. The engineers and technicians are absolutely necessary, but those who awaken moral and ethical intelligence are obviously of primary importance. They can have moral integrity, freedom from the desire for power, position, authority, only when they don't ask anything for themselves, when they are beyond and above society and not under the control of governments, and when they are free from the compulsion of social action, which is always action according to a pattern.

 The teacher must be beyond the limits of society and its demands, so as to be able to create a new culture, a new structure, a new civilization; but at present we are merely concerned with the technique of how to educate a boy or girl, without cultivating the intelligence of the teacher -- which seems to me so utterly futile. We are now mostly concerned with learning a technique and imparting that technique to the child, and not with the cultivation of intelligence, which will help him or her to deal with the problems of life.

 When I answer these questions, I hope you will bear with me that I don't go into any particular detail, but deal not primarily with technique, but with the right approach to the problem.

  Questioner: What part can education play in the present world crisis?

 Krishnamurti: Seeing both the causes and the results of war, of the present moral and social crisis, naturally one begins to perceive that the function of education is to create new values, not merely to impart existing values in the mind of the pupil, which merely conditions him without awakening his intelligence. But when the teacher himself has not seen the causes of the present chaos, how can he create new values, how can he awaken intelligence, how can het prevent the coming generation from following in the same steps, leading ultimately to still further disaster? Surely, then, it is important for the educator not merely to implant certain ideals and convey mere information, but to give all his thought, all his care, all his affection, to creating the right environment, the right atmosphere, so that when the child grows up into maturity he is capable of dealing with any human problems that confront him. So, education is intimately related to the present world crisis; and all the educators, at least in Europe and America, are realizing that the crisis is the outcome of wrong education. Education can be transformed only by educating the educator, and not merely creating a new pattern, a new system of action.

  Questioner: Have ideals any place in education?

Krishnamurti: Certainly not. Ideals and the idealist in education prevent the comprehension of the present. This is an enormous problem to try to deal with in five or ten minutes; it is a problem upon which our whole structure is based, that is, we have ideals, and we educate according to those ideals. Don't ideals actually prevent right education, which is the understanding of the child as he is and not as he should be? If I want to understand a child, I must not have an ideal of what he should be. To understand him, I must study him as he is. To put him into the framework of an ideal is merely to force him to follow a certain pattern, whether it suits him or not; and the result is that he is always in contradiction to the ideal, or else he so conforms himself to the ideal that he ceases to be a human being and acts as a mere automation without intelligence.

 So, is not an ideal an actual hindrance to the understanding of the child? If you as a parent really want to understand your child, do you look at him through the screen of an ideal? Or do you simply study him because you have love in your heart? You observe him, you watch his moods, his idiosyncrasies. Because there is love, you study him. It is only when you have no love that you have an ideal. Watch yourself and you will notice this. When there is no love, you have these enormous examples and ideals, through which you are forcing, compelling the child. But when you have love, you study him, you observe him and give him freedom to be what he is; you guide and help him, not to the ideal, not according to a certain pattern of action, but to bring him to be what he is.

 After all, the function of education is to turn out an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life intelligently -- wholly, not partially -- not as a technician or an idealist. But the individual cannot be integrated if he is merely pursuing an idealistic pattern of action. Obviously, the teachers who become idealists become pretty useless. If you observe, you will see that they are incapable of love: they have hard hearts and dry minds because it demands much greater observation, greater affection, to study and observe the child than to force him into an idealistic pattern of action. And I think that mere examples, which are another form of ideal, are also deterrent to intelligence.

 Probably what I am saying is contrary to all that you believe. You will have to think it over, because this is not a matter of denial or acceptance. One has to go into it very, very carefully.

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