A few personal observations about a book, Education and the Significance of Life by J. Krishamurti.
At first glance I thought this type of writing might be too heavily philosophical for my small mind to comprehend, but it engaged my interest by agreeing with me that our educational system is flawed and that children will benefit from being taught in small groups by people who love them. I homeschooled my two youngest children for nine years, and this book fits in well with my homeschooling philosophy.
“Peace is not achieved through any ideology, it does not depend on legislation; it comes only when we as individuals begin to understand our own psychological process. If we avoid the responsibility of acting individually and wait for some new system to establish peace, we shall merely become the slaves of that system.” (p.68)
Some of the other chapters in the book are: Intellect, Authority and Intelligence; The School; Parents and Teachers; Sex and Marriage; and Art, Beauty, and Creation.
Krishnamurti encouraged us to take responsibility for the education of our children, rather than to leave this task to the public education system.
“Government control of education is a calamity. There is no hope of peace and order in the world as long as education is the handmaid of the State or of organized religion. . . . Education throughout the world has failed, it has produced mounting destruction and misery. Governments are training the young to be the efficient soldiers and technicians they need; regimentation and prejudice are being cultivated and enforced.” (pp.75-76)
I totally agree that governments should not control education although I’ve never objected to the idea of parents educating their children in the religion of their choice. However I see Krishnamurti’s point in wanting to free the minds of the people from organized religions. He idealized a state of ‘creative intelligence’ for the people of the future, something that is impossible when people are pressured to accept limited ideologies.
“If those who are young have the spirit of inquiry, if they are constantly searching out the truth of all things, political or religious, personal and environmental, then youth will have great significance and there is hope for a better world.” (p.40)
Sadly, it seems the world hasn’t been listening. This book was first published in 1953, and since then, society has disintegrated. The strength of the typical family unit has eroded, schools now focus on teaching to the test, and children turn away from the ways of wisdom and toward mind-numbing video game systems as well as other distractions. Perhaps it is time for parents to reconsider Krishnamurti’s educational philosophy.
Interestingly, and totally against the Westernized concept of education, Krishnamurti taught that children should not be pushed to succeed. He wrote:
“As long as we want our children to be powerful, to have bigger and better positions, to become more and more successful, there is no love in our hearts; for the worship of success encourages conflict and misery.” (p.102)
I enjoyed reading the book, and am fascinated by Krishnamurti’s depth of understanding, the originality of his ideas, and the concern he showed in writing so passionately about the education of children. Naturally I wanted to know more about him and soon found several sites on the internet with information about his life and writings.
Krishnamurti was born in India in 1895 and died in Ojai, California in 1986. He was discovered as a teenager in India by C.W. Leadbeater, a leader of the Theosophical Society, and was trained by Leadbeater and Annie Besant who believed Krishnamurti was the promised incarnation of a world spiritual teacher. However in 1929 Krishnamurti denied this idea and dissolved The Order of the Star of the East, an organization set up to promote this claim of his greatness. Though she was not pleased with his decision, he remained a close friend of Besant until her death in 1933. He spent his life traveling and teaching about his philosophy, which is that “truth is a pathless land.” In other words, that people can come to truth only on their own, and not through any teaching, organized religion, government, philosophy, psychological technique, dogma, ritual, priest, guru, or creed.