On Right Education

Krishnamurti: It is our intention in places like Rishi Valley in the south and Rajghat in the north to create an environment, a climate, where one can bring about, if it is at all possible, a new human being. Do you know the history of these two schools? They have been running for thirty years or more. The purpose, the aim and drive of these schools is to equip the child with the most excellent technological proficiency so that he may function with clarity and efficiency in the modern world, and far more important to create the right climate so that the child may develop fully as a complete human being. This means giving him the opportunity to flower in goodness so that he is rightly related to people, things and ideas, to the whole of life. To live is to be related. There is no right relationship to anything if there is not the right feeling for beauty, a response to nature, to music and art, a highly developed aesthetic sense.

I think it is fairly clear that competitive education and the development of the student in that process is very destructive. I do not know how deeply one has grasped the significance of this. If one has, then what is right education? I think it is clear that the pattern which we now cultivate and call education, which is conformity to society, is very, very destructive. In its ambitious activities, it is frustrating in the extreme. And what we have so far considered, both in the West and East, as a development within this process, is culture. it is the inevitable invitation to sorrow. The perception of the truth of that is essential. If it is very clear, and if one has abandoned that voluntarily, not as a reaction, but just as a leaf falls away from the tree, a dropping away, then what is flowering, what is right education?

Do you educate the student to conform, to adjust, to fit into the system or do you educate him to comprehend, to see very clearly the whole significance of all that and, at the same time, help him to read and write? If you teach him to read and write within the present system of frustration, then the flowering of the mind is impeded. The question then is, if one drops this competitive education, can the mind be educated at all in the ordinary accepted sense of the word? Or does education consist really in taking ourselves and the student away from the social structure of frustration and desire and, at the same time giving him information about mathematics, physics, and so on? After all, if the teacher and the student are stripped of all this monstrous confusion, what is there to be educated about? All that you can teach the student is how to read and write, how to calculate, design, remember and communicate facts and opinions about facts.

So, what is the function of education and is there a particular method of education? Do you teach the student a technique so that he becomes proficient and in that very proficiency develops a sense of ambition? By teaching him a technique in order to find a job, you also burden him with its implications of success and frustration. He wants to be successful in life and he also wants to be a peaceful man. His whole life is a contradiction. The greater the contradiction, the greater the tension. This is a fact. When there is suppression in contradiction, there is greater outward activity. You give the student a technique and at the same time develop in him this extraordinary imbalance, this extreme contradiction which leads to frustration and despair. The more he develops his capacity in technique, the greater his ambition and the greater the frustration. You are educating him to have a technique which is going to lead to his despair. So the question is, can you help him not to drift into contradiction? He will drift into it if you do not help him to love the thing which he is doing.

You see, if the student loves geometry, loves it as an end in itself, he is so completely absorbed in it that he has no ambition. He really loves geometry and that is an enormous delight. Therefore he flowers in it. How will you help the student to love, in this way, a thing which the student has not yet discovered for himself?

If you are asked, as a teacher, what the intention of this school is would you be able to reply? I want to know what you are all trying to do, what you intend the student to be? Are you trying to shape him, condition him, force him in certain directions? Are you trying to teach the student mathematics, physics, giving him some information so that he is proficient technologically and can do well in a future career? Thousands of schools are doing this, all over the world – trying to make the student excellent technologically so that he becomes a good scientist, engineer, physicist and so on. Or are you trying to do something much more here? If it is much more, what is it?

We must be very clear in ourselves what we want, clear what a human being must be – the total human being, not just the technological human being. If we concentrate very much on examinations, on technological information, on making the child clever, proficient in acquiring knowledge, while we neglect the other side, then the child will grow up into a one-sided human being. When we talk about a total human being, we mean not only a human being with inward understanding, with a capacity to explore, to examine his inward being, his inward state and the capacity of going beyond it, but also someone who is good in what he does outwardly. The two must go together. That is the real issue in education – to see that when the child leaves the school, he is well established in goodness, both outwardly and inwardly.

There must be a starting point from which we function so that we will cultivate not only the technological side but also uncover the deeper layers, the deeper fields of the human mind. I will put it another way. If you concentrate on making the student excellent in technology and neglect the other side, as we generally do, what happens to such a human being? If you concentrate on making the student a perfect dancer or a perfect mathematician, what happens? He is not just that, he is something more. He is jealous, angry, frustrated, in despair, ambitious. So you will create a society in which there is always disorder, because you are emphasizing technology and proficiency in one field and neglecting the other field. However perfect a man may be technologically, he is always in contradiction in his social relationships. He is always in battle with his neighbour.

So technology cannot produce a perfect or a good society. It may produce a great society, where there is no poverty, where there is material equality and so on. A great society is not necessarily a good society. A good society implies order. Order does not mean trains running on time, mail delivered regularly. It means something else. For a human being, order means order within himself. And such order will inevitably bring about a good society. Now from which centre are we to start?

Do you understand my question? If I neglect the inner and accentuate technology, whatever I do will be one-sided. So I must find a way, I must bring about a movement which will cover both. So far, we have separated the two and having separated them, we have emphasized the one and neglected the other. What we are now trying to do is to join both of them together. If there is proper education, the student will not treat them as two separate fields. He will be able to move in both as one movement. Right? In making himself technologically perfect, he will also make himself a worthwhile human being. Does this convey something or not?

A river is not always the same, the banks vary, and the water can be used industrially or for various other purposes, but it is still water. Why have we separated the technological world and the other world? We have said: “If we could make the technological world perfect, we would have food, clothes, shelter for everybody, so let us concern ourselves with the technological.” And there are also those who are concerned only with the inner world. They emphasize the so-called inner world, and become more and more isolated, more and more self-centred, more and more vague, pursuing their own beliefs, dogmas and visions. There is this tremendous division and we say we must somehow bring these two together. So having divided life into the outer and inner, we now try to integrate them. I think that way also leads to more conflict. Whereas if we could find a centre, a movement, an approach which does not divide, we would function in both equally.

What is the movement that is supremely intelligent? I am using the word “intelligent,” not clever, not intuitive, not derived from knowledge, information, experience. What is the movement that understands all these divisions, all these conflicts; and that very understanding creates the movement of intelligence?

We see in the world two movements going on, the deep religious movement which man has always sought and which has become Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, and this wordily movement of technology, a world of computers and automation that give man more leisure. The religious movement is very feeble and very few are pursuing it. The technological has become stronger and stronger and man is getting lost in it, becoming more mechanical and therefore man tries to escape from this mechanism, tries to discover something new – in painting, in music, in art, in the theatre. And the religious, if there are any, say “That is the wrong way” and move away to a world of their own. They do not see the insufficiency, the immaturity, the mechanical way of both. Now, can we see that both of these are insufficient? If we can see that, then we are beginning to perceive a non-mechanistic movement which will cover both.

If I had a child to be educated I would help him to see the mechanical and the insufficient processes of both ways and in the very examination of the insufficiency of both as they operate in him, there would be born the intelligence which has come into being through examination.

Sirs, look at those flowers, the brilliancy, the beauty of them. Now, how am I, as a teacher, to help the student to see the flowers and also be very good at mathematics? If I am only concerned with the flowers and I am not good at mathematics, something is wrong with me. If I am only concerned with mathematics, then also something is wrong with me.

You cannot cultivate technological information, become perfect in it first and then say you must also study the other. By giving your heart to years of acquiring knowledge you have already destroyed something in you – the feeling and the capacity to look. By emphasizing one or the other you become insensitive and the essence of intelligence is sensitivity.

So, the quality which we want the child to have is the highest form of sensitivity. Sensitivity is intelligence; it does not come from books. If you spend forty years in learning mathematics but cannot look at those flowers and also study mathematics. If there is a movement of that intelligence it will cover both fields. Now how are you and I, as a community of teachers, going to create that movement of sensitivity in the ‘child?

The student must be free. Otherwise he cannot be sensitive. If he is not free in the study of mathematics, enjoying mathematics, giving his heart to it, which is freedom, he cannot study it adequately. And to look at those flowers, to look at that beauty, he must also be free. So there must be freedom first. That means I must help that boy to be free. Freedom implies order, freedom does not mean allowing the boy to do what he likes, to come to lunch and to class when he likes.

In examining, working, in learning, one understands that the highest form of sensitivity is intelligence. That sensitivity, that intelligence can come about only in freedom, but to convey that to a child requires a great deal of intelligence on our part. I would like to help him to be free and yet at the same time have order and discipline, without conformity. To examine anything one must have not only freedom but discipline. This discipline is not something from outside which has been imposed upon the child and according to which he tries to conform. In the very examination of these two processes – the technological and the religious, there is attention and therefore discipline. Therefore one asks, “How can we help that boy or girl to be free completely and yet highly disciplined, not through fear, not through conformity, not partially free but completely free and yet highly disciplined at the same time?” Not one first and then the other. They both go together.

Now, how are we to do this? Do we clearly see that freedom is absolutely essential, and that freedom does not mean doing what one likes? You cannot do what you like, because you are always in relationship in life with others. See the necessity and importance of being completely free and yet highly disciplined without conformity. See that your beliefs, your ideas, your ideologies are second-hand. You have to see all that and see that you must be absolutely free. Otherwise you cannot function as a human being.

Now I wonder if you see this as an idea or as a fact, as factual as this ink pot. How will you, as a community of teachers, when you see the importance of the child being completely free and also realize that there must be discipline and order – how will you help him so that he flowers in freedom and order? Your shouting at the child is not going to do it; your beating the child is not going to do it, your comparing him to another is not going to do it. Any form of compulsion, bullying, or system of giving him marks or no marks is not going to do it.

If you see the importance of the boy being free and at the same time highly orderly, and if you see that punishment or cajoling him is not going to produce anything, will you completely drop all that in yourself.

The old method has not produced freedom. It has made man comply and adjust, but if you see that freedom is absolutely necessary and therefore order is essential, these methods which we have used for centuries must drop away.

The difficulty is that you are used to old methods and suddenly you are deprived of them. So you are confronted with a problem about which you have to think in a totally different way. It is your problem. It is your responsibility. You are confronted with this issue. You cannot possibly employ the old methods, because you have seen that the boy must be totally free and yet there must be order. So what has happened to you who have, so far, accepted and functioned with an old formula? You have thrown out the formula and are looking at the problem anew, are you not? You are looking at the problem with a fresh mind which is free.

Teacher: To see, does one always have to be in that state? Krishnamurti: If you do not see it now but demand to see it always, that is nonsense. The seeing once is the seed put in the earth, that will flower. But if you say that you must see it always, then you are back to the old formula.

Look what has happened: the old patterns of thinking with regard to teaching and freedom and order have been taken away from you. Therefore you are looking at problems differently. The difference is that your mind is now free to look, free to examine the issue of freedom and order. Now how will you convey to the child that you are not going to punish him, not going to reward him and yet he must be totally free and orderly?

Teacher: I think the teacher has the same problem as the child. He needs to operate from a field where he feels freedom and discipline go together. In his present thinking, he separates order and freedom. He says freedom is against order and order is against freedom. Krishnamurti: I think we are missing something. When you see that the old methods of punishment and reward are dead, your mind becomes much more active. Because you have to solve this problem, your mind is alive. If it is alive, it will be in contact with the issue.

Because you are free and understand freedom, you will be punctual in your class and from freedom you will talk to the student and not from an idea. To talk from an idea, a formula, a concept is one thing, but to talk from an actual fact which you have seen – that the student must be free and therefore orderly – is totally different. When you as a teacher are free and orderly you are already communicating it, not only verbally but non-verbally and the student knows it immediately.

Once you see the fact that punishment and reward in any form are destructive, you never go back to them. By throwing them out, you yourself are disciplined and that discipline has come out of the freedom of examination. You communicate to the child the fact of that and not any idea. Then you have communicated to him not only verbally, but at a totally different level.