I recently read this blog by a friend of mine which set me thinking about education and how we educate our children. However, it is not only the children in India who lose the art of being open and curious as they grow older, as Anu says, it is every child – all over the world.
Educated in a J.Krishnamurti foundation school, Rishi Valley School I realise what a fortunate woman I am. Having had the benefit of being taught open curiosity, asking questions as a method of learning and meditation from childhood has been a huge blessing. Though as a child, growing up, I was always chastised by my teachers for being outspoken and asking too many questions. Talks back and talks too much, were the remarks I always used to get in my term school report! Then, I used to cringe as my father would scold me for these remarks. Today, I recount them with glee and a glint in my eye.
In Krishnamurti’s own words, the purpose of his schools is:
A far more important purpose than this is to create the right climate and environment so that the child may develop fully as a complete human being.
We the Curious
Anu’s post about children losing their natural curiosity led me to explore and I came across an organisation called We, the Curious. I love their tagline – less Shhhh and more play! When we as children are meant to be seen and not heard, are constantly told what to do and not to do, not touch this, that or the other, it kills the natural playfulness in children. Then once school begins Anu says in her blog, it just becomes learning by rote, stifling and killing our curiosity and enquiry even more.
Fortunately I had the benefit of a wonderful education and I understand not everybody is so fortunate. J. Krishmnamurti’s emphasis on bringing up children with the right education means that they grow up to be right adults is practised in his schools. We had school only in the mornings and the afternoons were spent doing creative work, working in the fields, sport and any number of extra curricular activities from music to carpentry to dance to knitting and baking. And every evening the sunset hour was reserved for meditation – Astachal – the sunset meditation.
However as educated parents, I think we can all make a difference in the home by encouraging the natural dare devilry in children, the need to explore and get hurt and not be helicopter or drone parents. What a senseless idea! Imagine an adult constantly hovering over you checking in to see if you have had a meal, done your homework or are off to some activity or the other. This kills all sense of responsibility and once we hand over that to an adult, we can never become adults ourselves. We remain children. And if that is the conditioning we receive, then we pass on such unconscious conditioning to the next generation. What do you think?
Osho’s insights into bringing up children are as always unusual. He says, “So in my view, the foundation of education should be love, not intellect. Intellect in only a means. If there is love within, then the intellect become just a means to spread and develop love. And if there is no love within, then the intellect becomes a means for spreading lovelessness.”
From: Revolution in Education
And further he says, “So there is no problem about conditioning and children. We can create a separate section [in a commune] where children can have their garden, farm their fields, their hostel where they can do their things; where teachers can be trained not to condition anybody for anything; where every kind of literature should be available for children to read. If they want to understand something the teachers are there to help them – but the teachers don’t have any idea to impose on them.
It is only a question of changing our teaching colleges and preparing teachers for teaching children without conditioning them. All this can be be very easily managed.”
From: Socrates Poisoned again after TwentyFive centuries.
Nuclear or Communal living?
As Indian society becomes more and more nuclear with the older generation being kept in social or sheltered housing, at least in larger towns and cities, the western society is becoming more community-minded. People are realising that children need more than just their parents as role models. So neighbours are being roped in, three-generation living is slowly beginning to take root and environmentally friendly housing associations are being created where streets have no cars but children playing in them as neighbours and community hubs are on hand for busy working parents who work away.
A concerted macro and micro effort is needed and such is already happening in the UK with the Mindfulness in Schools programme. Do you have children who go to schools that are that bit different? That help develop the child as a whole human being?
So why not celebrate the art of asking questions – the Whys, Whens and Whats? And, as adults, bring up an entire new generation of curious, wonder-filled human beings! What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to comment below.