While working on a current teaching philosophy, I stumbled upon a paper I wrote ten years ago in History and Philosophy of Ed:
An Art Teacher's Philosophy, Continuous Revolution
Excerpts taken from Krishnamurti’s
Questions on the Function of Education
Ed Se 600
The goal of education should be to help us understand the whole process of life. Not to disregard our initial knowledge. Humans (everything tangible and intangible) are miraculous forms. And still, every moment of every day throughout life, there is awareness followed by layers of subtlety, fineness, quality, and magic to respect and to relearn. History does not exist. It is present now and parallels many stories happening at once. What is written as history is a version from one perspective often with lessons on morality, right and wrong. The first state we can work towards is no preconceived notions, a continuous process of unlearning and learning at the moment and for the moment.
We breathe, drink, eat, sleep, read and interact learning more and more subtlety; the how in the way we do these things.
My life centers on creativity, a term that holds more potentiality than I have yet realized. I am learning to unlearn many of the structures from my personal past to be open to many possibilities without fitting others around me into molds. In teaching, I aim to bring out a knowing; an inner teacher. Students recognize themselves, their beauty, to fully experience sorrow or joy; be truly alive. We know, learn another way, and then spend our life unlearning so we can learn again, a new natural way.
"Education has no meaning unless it helps you to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows and joys"
Discuss your reaction
This statement resonates strongly with my core belief and with the purpose of my existence. Nature, or this concept that we narrowly define it by, has always been magical in my life; something I was always curious about. Not just the mere physical properties of a substance or the observable facts but more importantly the presence of the unknown. It is a stillness, or grace of subtle movement, I still, forever, devote my learning/teaching to.
For example, my eighth grade students observed the second grade youngsters in their confirmation dresses. We have eyes and see naturally. All children see and answer if asked the questions. We know what is there. We sit still and focused our minds on this task. I guide students along the maps that they are already eagerly reading.
"Intelligence is the capacity surely to think freely, without fear, without a formula, so that you begin to discover for yourself what is real, what is true"
Discuss your reaction
Our limits have a tendency to set our lives. Many (I have the urge to say all) have a tendency to be driven by fear as soon as we take our first fall. The distorted version of our memory of the fall alters our present freedom of thought. Unfortunately, being ruled by these thoughts we tend to manifest them around us, escaping, living for the future, driven only by our fears of the past.
When do we and can we truly learn? (When we are aware of everything in the present, not just ourselves.) We can see the bush, the leaves, smell the air, and hear the distant bird, the gentle fall of water, the melody and orchestra of it all and our heartbeat, knowing that it is playing everywhere we go.
Of course at certain periods of life we want confirmations, draw conclusions and write formulas. We need to do the work and want to see the fruit of our labor. We want to know concretely. To continuously think we need to 'learn' (in the current system of thought) seems overwhelming. We, in fact, are uncomfortable with the concept of unknown, whereas it is just the opposite and quite natural. Reality and truth are ever changing and creative. It is beautiful with all its qualities throughout the process.
"You can appreciate its (life’s) richness in depth, its extraordinary loveliness only when you revolt against everything---against organized religion, against tradition, against the present rotten society--- so that you as a human being find out for yourself what is true"
"There is freedom when there is a continuous revolution inwardly within yourself"
The first statement goes back to history and our past 'fall' affecting the freedom of thought in the present. I learned of this freedom as I observed my Kindergarten class my second year teaching. They naturally picked up any material, curiously wanting to know, be it something they experienced before or not. They are aware of the magic and beauty in everything. Watch young children at the playground. By the end of the year and first grade they fall into our institutionalized organization, categories, (school) systems. My first grade was a huge contrast and thus made me analyze both classes as to why. By first grade most of the time was spent reprimanding one another for 'wrongdoing'. This phrase they internalized by our labels projecting them on each other. Much of the self-confidence and magic was gone.
Thankfully, nature gives us a 'revolt period'- our teenage years. But of course with our low self-worth by that point (after institutionalization from first through eighth grades) our efforts are by and large paralyzed. We shut teenagers out of our lives, our families, our society believing they have nothing positive to offer. It is precisely to these people we need to turn for any hope of a revolution. It is the eighth graders drawings when encouraged, that produce and surpass our greatest expectations. (See portraits mentioned above.)
Currently, I see a revolt again and again in my adult classes, where structured living produced at many times, a “successful” outcome by societal standards. Yet, there is still a search for more, for the intangible, the unknown.
In order to open to any new information one has to continuously process. It is a hard concept, to know in order not to know. It reminds me of the painting process. Every time I think I know, there are a million variables in the process in each painting, never to be replicated at any other moment. It is a skill I will forever only be an obedient servant of for it holds elements of that wonderful creative nature. The human struggle to be content/comfortable (in painting I would settle for okay) when things do not go according to plan is part of learning.
"Is it the function of education merely to help you to conform to the pattern of this rotten social order, or is it to give you freedom-- complete freedom to grow and create a different society a new world?"
How would you answer
The goal in education in both learning and teaching is to have freedom to grow and create. Through this process a different society and a new world is able to emerge. That is if we teach with these principles in mind and heart. It is not only Krishnamurti speaking, humans have always inquired, observed, and created. From these observations we then label, categorize and destroy. First I destroy and am continuously destroying my systems of organization, categorization and labeling so I can create anew. We go to the natural history museums gawking at the beauty of various species of (stuffed) birds hardly noticing while we are out of doors their sweet sounds or how they glide above. We try to simplify our world, our lives by putting things and ourselves into cages afraid of the beauty, creativity and reality of the unknown. Reality/nature/life is still stunning. The question is can we see clearly? Can we realize it? Creating a society more in tune with nature and ourselves; a world that is not overshadowed by our personal egocentric, fear-generated blocks, but instead created with the natural beauty and potential in all of us, is my aim.
"It is only when you are constantly inquiring, constantly observing, constantly learning, that you find truth, God or love; and you cannot inquire, observe, learn, you cannot be deeply aware, if you are afraid. So the function of education, surely, is to eradicate, inwardly as well as outwardly, this fear that destroys human thought, human relationship and love"
Discuss your reaction
Each of Krishnamurti’s statement resonates with me as if it were a part of my belief. His speech is clear and words layered in meaning. Our first lesson must be facing our fear. What are we truly afraid of? For this directly parallels the way in which we are living. We revolve our life around fear, from the moment we are told of its presence. What are the potentials without fear? I observe my six-month-old niece. She has never fallen and as she has no concept of my arms holding her, she flies with her whole being. Our inner safety and peace will manifest, I believe, an outer safety and love. That potential start is great.
"Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning"
The process of life is certainly the greatest teacher; however throughout this process we come upon others, another’s process that came before or after. I have been blessed with incredible teachers who continue to teach me lessons five, ten, fifteen years after their actual 'classes'. My experience triggers their statements and the concepts get realized. For whatever reason I was not able to truly hear the lesson or the ramifications of it then. Only after learning, listening and trusting that inner 'teacher/voice' can I listen to life's constant learning be it from a teacher, a stranger, a tree.
"Is it very important to find out while you are young what it is you really love to do, and this is the only way to create a new society"
Apply to your own life
This statement is a very interesting concept. As young as two or three, I loved playing in my grandmother’s garden- my infantile paradise, observing grass blades, snails and eating the fruit of that wonderland. I examined that small plot of land as the entire Earth; imagining the tree with the bend to be the car or space ship, playing with a new family of rabbits, carefully tending their straw and the occasional apple, mesmerized by their innocent pink bodies, occasionally fulfilling my grandmother's chore of picking the forest strawberries. I was free to totally explore the beauty around me with interesting sounds and smells. Now I realize how much I love and have always loved nature. In the gardens, I am at home. Close observation of the natural world is my profession as an artist and conveying the subtleties of what I see is what I teach.