When one travels around the world, one notices to what an extraordinary degree human nature is the same, whether in India or America, in Europe or Australia. This is especially true in colleges and universities. We are turning out, as if through a mould, a type of human being whose chief interest is to find security, to become somebody important, or to have a good time with as little thought as possible. Conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult. Conformity leads to mediocrity. To be different from the group or to resist environment is not easy and is often risky as long as we worship success.
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THE ignorant man is not the unlearned, but he who does not know himself, and the learned man is stupid when he relies on books, on knowledge and on authority to give him understanding. Understanding comes only through self-knowledge, which is awareness of one's total psychological process. Thus education, in the true sense, is the understanding of oneself, for it is within each one of us that the whole of existence is gathered.
What we now call education is a matter of accumulating information and knowledge from books, which anyone can do who can read. Such education offers a subtle form of escape from ourselves and, like all escapes, it inevitably creates increasing misery.
Conflict and confusion result from our own wrong relationship with people, things and ideas, and until we understand that relationship and alter it, mere learning, the gathering of facts and the acquiring of various skills, can only lead us to engulfing chaos and destruction. As society is now organized, we send our children to school to learn some technique by which they can eventually earn a livelihood. We want to make the child first and foremost a specialist, hoping thus to give him a secure economic position.
But does the cultivation of a technique enable us to understand ourselves? While it is obviously necessary to know how to read and write, and to learn engineering or some other profession, will technique give us the capacity to understand life? Surely, technique is secondary; and if technique is the only thing we are striving for, we are obviously denying what is by far the greater part of life.
Life is pain, joy, beauty, ugliness, love, and when we understand it as a whole, at every level, that understanding creates its own technique. But the contrary is not true: technique can never bring about creative understanding. Present-day education is a complete failure because it has overemphasized technique. In overemphasizing technique we destroy man. To cultivate capacity and efficiency without understanding life, without having a comprehensive perception of the ways of thought and desire, will only make us increasingly ruthless, which is to engender wars and jeopardize our physical security.
The exclusive cultivation of technique has produced scientists, mathematicians, bridge builders, space conquerors; but do they understand the total process of life? Can any specialist experience life as a whole?
Only when he ceases to be a specialist. Technological progress does solve certain kinds of problems for some people at one level, but it introduces wider and deeper issues too. To live at one level, disregarding the total process of life, is to invite misery and destruction. The greatest need and most pressing problem for every individual is to have an integrated comprehension of life, which will enable him to meet its ever-increasing complexities.
Technical knowledge, however necessary, will in no way resolve our inner, psychological pressures and conflict; and it is because we have acquired technical knowledge without understanding the total process of life that technology has become a means of destroying ourselves. The man who knows how to split the atom but has no love in his heart becomes a monster. We choose a vocation according to our capacities; but will the following of a vocation lead us out of conflict and confusion?
Some form of technical training seems necessary; but when we have become engineers, physicians, accountants - then what?
Is the practice of a profession the fulfilment of life? Apparently with most of us it is. Our various professions may keep us busy for the greater part of our existence; but the very things that we produce and are so entranced with are causing destruction and misery.
Our attitudes and values make of things and occupations the instruments of envy, bitterness and hate. Without understanding ourselves, mere occupation leads to frustration, with its inevitable escapes through all kinds of mischievous activities.
Technique without understanding leads to enmity and ruthlessness, which we cover up with pleasant-sounding phrases. Of what value is it to emphasize technique and become efficient entities if the result is mutual destruction?
Our technical progress is fantastic, but it has only increased our powers of destroying one another, and there is starvation and misery in every land. We are not peaceful and happy people. When function is all-important, life becomes dull and boring, a mechanical and sterile routine from which we escape into every kind of distraction. The accumulation of facts and the development of capacity, which we call education, has deprived us of the fullness of integrated life and action.
It is because we do not understand the total process of life that we cling to capacity and efficiency, which thus assume overwhelming importance. But the whole cannot be understood through the part; it can be understood only through action and experience.
Another factor in the cultivation of technique is that it gives us a sense of security, not only economic, but psychological as well. It is reassuring to know that we are capable and efficient. To know that we can play the piano or build a house gives us a feeling of vitality, of aggressive independence; but to emphasize capacity because of a desire for psychological security is to deny the fullness of life.
The whole content of life can never be foreseen, it must be experienced anew from moment to moment; but we are afraid of the unknown, and so we establish for ourselves psychological zones of safety in the form of systems, techniques and beliefs. As long as we are seeking inward security, the total process of life cannot be understood. The right kind of education, while encouraging the learning of a technique, should accomplish something which is of far greater importance: it should help man to experience the integrated process of life.
It is this experiencing that will put capacity and technique in their right place. If one really has something to say, the very saying of it creates its own style; but learning a style without inward experiencing can only lead to superficiality.
Throughout the world, engineers are frantically designing machines which do not need men to operate them. In a life run almost entirely by machines, what is to become of human beings? We shall have more and more leisure without knowing wisely how to employ it, and we shall seek escape through knowledge, through enfeebling amusements, or through ideals.
I believe volumes have been written about educational ideals, yet we are in greater confusion than ever before. There is no method by which to educate a child to be integrated and free. As long as we are concerned with principles, ideals and methods, we are not helping the individual to be free from his own self-centred activity with all its fears and conflicts. Ideals and blueprints for a perfect Utopia will never bring about the radical change of heart which is essential if there is to be an end to war and universal destruction.
Ideals cannot change our present values: they can be changed only by the right kind of education, which is to foster the understanding of what is. When we are working together for an ideal, for the future, we shape individuals according to our conception of that future; we are not concerned with human beings at all, but with our idea of what they should be. The what should be becomes far more important to us than what is, namely, the individual with his complexities.
If we begin to understand the individual directly instead of looking at him through the screen of what we think he should be, then we are concerned with what is. Then we no longer want to transform the individual into something else; our only concern is to help him to understand himself, and in this there is no personal motive or gain. If we are fully aware of what is, we shall understand it and so be free of it; but to be aware of what we are, we must stop struggling after something which we are not.
Ideals have no place in education for they prevent the comprehension of the present. Surely, we can be aware of what is only when we do not escape into the future. To look to the future, to strain after an ideal, indicates sluggishness of mind and a desire to avoid the present. Is not the pursuit of a ready-made Utopia a denial of the freedom and integration of the individual?
When one follows an ideal, a pattern, when one has a formula for what should be, does one not live a very superficial, automatic life? We need, not idealists or entities with mechanical minds, but integrated human beings who are intelligent and free. Merely to have a design for a perfect society is to wrangle and shed blood for what should be while ignoring what is. If human beings were mechanical entities, automatic machines, then the future would be predictable and the plans for a perfect Utopia could be drawn up; then we would be able to plan carefully a future society and work towards it.
Between now and the future there is an immense gap in which many influences are at work upon each one of us, and in sacrificing the present for the future we are pursuing wrong means to a probable right end. But the means determine the end; and besides, who are we to decide what man should be?
By what right do we seek to mould him according to a particular pattern, learnt from some book or determined by our own ambitions, hopes and fears? The right kind of education is not concerned with any ideology, however much it may promise a future Utopia: it is not based on any system, however carefully thought out; nor is it a means of conditioning the individual in some special manner.
Education in the true sense is helping the individual to be mature and free, to flower greatly in love and goodness. That is what we should be interested in, and not in shaping the child according to some idealistic pattern. Any method which classifies children according to temperament and aptitude merely emphasizes their differences; it breeds antagonism, encourages divisions in society and does not help to develop integrated human beings.
It is obvious that no method or system can provide the right kind of education, and strict adherence to a particular method indicates sluggishness on the part of the educator.
As long as education is based on cut-and-dried principles, it can turn out men and women who are efficient, but it cannot produce creative human beings. Where there is love there is instantaneous communion with the other, on the same level and at the same time. It is because we ourselves are so dry, empty and without love that we have allowed governments and systems to take over the education of our children and the direction of our lives; but governments want efficient technicians, not human beings, because human beings become dangerous to governments - and to organized religions as well.
That is why governments and religious organizations seek to control education. Life cannot be made to conform to a system, it cannot be forced into a framework, however nobly conceived; and a mind that has merely been trained in factual knowledge is incapable of meeting life with its variety, its subtlety, its depths and great heights.
When we train our children according to a system of thought or a particular discipline, when we teach them to think within departmental divisions, we prevent them from growing into integrated men and women, and therefore they are incapable of thinking intelligently, which is to meet life as a whole. The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole.
The idealist, like the specialist, is not concerned with the whole, but only with a part. There can be no integration as long as one is pursuing an ideal pattern of action; and most teachers who are idealists have put away love, they have dry minds and hard hearts. To study a child, one has to be alert, watchful, self-aware, and this demands far greater intelligence and affection than to encourage him to follow an ideal.
Another function of education is to create new values. Merely to implant existing values in the mind of the child, to make him conform to ideals, is to condition him without awakening his intelligence. Education is intimately related to the present world crisis, and the educator who sees the causes of this universal chaos should ask himself how to awaken intelligence in the student, thus helping the coming generation not to bring about further conflict and disaster.
He must give all his thought, all his care and affection to the creation of right environment and to the development of understanding, so that when the child grows into maturity he will be capable of dealing intelligently with the human problems that confront him.
But in order to do this, the educator must understand himself instead of relying on ideologies, systems and beliefs. Let us not think in terms of principles and ideals, but be concerned with things as they are; for it is the consideration of what is that awakens intelligence, and the intelligence of the educator is far more important than his knowledge of a new method of education.
When one follows a method, even if it has been worked out by a thoughtful and intelligent person, the method becomes very important, and the children are important only as they fit into it. One measures and classifies the child, and then proceeds to educate him according to some chart. This process of education may be convenient for the teacher, but neither the practice of a system nor the tyranny of opinion and learning can bring about an integrated human being.
The right kind of education consists in understanding the child as he is without imposing upon him an ideal of what we think he should be. To enclose him in the framework of an ideal is to encourage him to conform, which breeds fear and produces in him a constant conflict between what he is and what he should be; and all inward conflicts have their outward manifestations in society.
Ideals are an actual hindrance to our understanding of the child and to the child's understanding of himself. A parent who really desires to understand his child does not look at him through the screen of an ideal.
Function of Education on Krishnamurti
As a result, one should agree that the true function of education should be to prepare people for life. I will. In sickle cell anemia, the blood cells are shaped like sickles, are sticky and become brittle which makes it more difficult to create. Indeed, the media, the culture, and the education system of a society all take roles in the propagation of youth crimes. Firstly, the media - magazines, newspapers, television and the Internet - are to be blamed for inculcating the wrong values regarding violence and sex in the minds of the youths. Fear is a function that should protect our lives in the early history of mankind. However, in our civilized society, we can not just run away or beat somebody when we are scared.
What Do We Mean by Education?
The right kind of education is not concerned with any ideology, however much it may promise a future utopia: it is not based on any system, however carefully thought out, nor is it a means of conditioning the individual in some special manner. Education in the true sense is helping the individual to be mature and free, to flower greatly in love and goodness. That is what we should be interested in, and not in shaping the child according to some idealistic pattern. The highest function of education is to bring about an integrated individual who is capable of dealing with life as a whole.