A year ago, in November 2012, the Journal editorial team was sitting around in Ahalyaji's room, wrapping things up for the seventeenth issue. As we worked and chatted, Ahalyaji sat on her cushioned sofa with her two phones at her fingertips. From time to time, she would pick up either the black or the white receiver, and accomplish something easily and efficiently. In between, she kept reminding us of a variety of matters: should the list of contributors include their email ids? After the manuscript is paginated, will you check it again before printing? Can we all brainstorm about ways to increase the readership of our Journal? How can we help teachers with report writing in a different spirit altogether? What will be the dates of our next meeting, in April? Did everyone have a special ginger biscuit from the tin?
As we sit here in Vasanta Vihar in her room exactly a year later, she is no more and we are acutely aware of her absence. Although it seemed impossible to imagine working on the Journal without her, we are doing so. Maybe it is no coincidence that this is the Journal's eighteenth year, an age when we feel a young person is ready to live away from parents. Ahalyaji has nurtured this Journal, and each of us on the editorial team, for seventeen years. So today when we feel confident of continuing the work of bringing out a quality publication every year, it is with profound gratitude to her.
Ahalyaji's very special feeling for teachers has always been at the core of the Journal of the Krishnamurti Schools. This feeling goes back to the time when she joined the Central Institute of Education in Delhi in 1952, and underwent, as she called it, a transformation. She began to see education as a craft and a passion, and her picture of the teacher was formed then; in a personal conversation about her life and work some years ago, she said, "I learnt that when you train a teacher, she is not a technician to teach forty lessons a week. It is a much larger vision, the role of a teacher: how does she counsel children, meet parents, keep records, correct work, organize projects and excursions, come out with a newsletter?" This feeling only grew over the years she spent with students and teachers in the Krishnamurti schools in India.
Having been in close contact with these schools for decades, she had a deep trust that something significant was happening here and that teachers were at the heart of it. Teachers' accounts of their work, when shared by them, have a singular inspirational quality, and Ahalyaji decided these stories needed to be shared. When she thought of launching a new publication, a journal, for this purpose, the first question she was often asked was: but will teachers really write, and will they read each others' writing? Year after year, Ahalyaji's answer to the question has been a jubilant 'Yes!', as the publication of nearly twenty first-rate articles by teachers in each and every issue of the Journal has shown.
This eighteenth issue offers several different kinds of articles. Some are about rethinking classroom practices, with ideas for how to teach particular subjects (literature, writing, philosophy and Sanskrit) in more reflective ways. Two pieces describe how scheduling time for dialogue or awareness exercises can open the door for children and adults to learn about themselves and about life. Both lay stress on the value of open-ended exploration without seeking immediate answers, especially when it comes to the subtle nature of awareness and self-understanding. A kind of umbrella article for these two is the one on the necessity of 'culture spaces' in schools, as a way to keep our educational intent alive and central to our work. We have an affectionate piece describing the unique developmental stage of the middle school child and a comprehensive one describing the elements that go into creating meaningful school excursions. In the area of environmental education and our relationship with nature, we have two complementary articles. One explores the increasing tendency for older students to 'remain indoors, huddled together', rather than spend time 'daydreaming under the shade of a tree, enjoying the cool breeze or watching the clouds drift by'. Another offers a critique of environmental education curricula that ignore the need to nurture our 'innate affinity' for the natural world. Two articles are of a philosophical nature. One is a thorough exploration of the construction of selfhood and another is on deconstructing our perceptions of the world. The Journal ends with an extract of a recorded discussion between Krishnamurti and others in Brockwood Park School in the UK in 1983, with brief comments by one of the participants.
Before we get into the Journal proper, however, we have a special section on our dear chief editor. She never allowed us to call her that, insisting she was simply a part of the editorial team; yet there was never any doubt in our minds that she was our chief! Ahalyaji was so inspiring as an educator because she had her own search, was alive to questions, and was always genuinely interested in the other person. Our first three authors bring out these qualities vividly in their pieces.