A tree derives its strength from its roots, striking deep into the earth, giving it stability and sustenance. So it has been with the Journal, firmly rooted as it is in the ground of Krishnamurti’s vision for education. From the very first issue, we have sought to include writings that explored the ways in which Krishnamurti’s teachings can be translated in schools - ‘philosophy in practice’, if you will. It is a testament to the depth and clarity of Krishnamurti’s teachings that the Journal has been able to include such a wide variety of articles, seemingly so diverse, and yet all stemming from people’s whole-hearted engagement with the questions he has raised.
Articles in the category ‘philosophy in practice’ are, by their very nature, tentative expressions of works in progress. Rather than conclusions, they are processes of sharing difficulties, concerns, insights. This is because there must be a willingness to learn through the practice, committed as one may be to the philosophy. We hope that the readers find this open-endedness energizing rather than frustrating.
For years, teachers have wrestled with the question of how to motivate their students to work. Motivation has been classified as ‘internal’ or ‘external’, and teachers have been forced to conclude that if their students don’t have the former, the school will have to find ways of providing the latter. Hence tests, examinations, grades, stars, prizes, medals, incentives, black marks, detention and failure. If one is deeply dissatisfied with this approach, is it still possible to ‘get the student to learn’? The editors began a discussion amongst themselves around this question. Our thoughts have been distilled into an article entitled Nurturing the Motivation to Learn. On a similar note, the end-of-year report card has long been a source of anxiety. Expecting a few letters or numbers to capture an entire year of experience, life and learning, is surely unfair! Educators around the world have recently been calling attention to this anomaly, suggesting imaginative alternatives to the traditional report card. This issue of the Journal contributes to this debate, in a section called Reporting on the Child at School. It consists of four pieces covering the range from kindergarten to high school. These will give you an introduction to some of the approaches to reporting that have worked well in our schools.
You will also find an inspiring cluster of articles on a theme that is particularly timely. Everyone loves to bemoan ‘this fast-paced, city life’, yet few of us seem able to slow our lives down significantly. What would it take to live more and more in the spaces between our activities rather than in the activities themselves? The urgency of this question is highlighted in Being Nothing, Doing Nothing, while the articles On the Nature of a Walk and River Talk point beautifully to our relationship with nature as key to the issue.
As educators, young people are our main companions through life. While we are busy devising strategies and making plans for their benefit, we also need to stop and reflect more on what they may be thinking and feeling. In this context, we include a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece entitled Youth in Transition. Two more articles, Innocent Prejudice and The Paradox of Being Responsible, Yet Not Responsible also afford us glimpses into the minds of young people.
In terms of concrete ideas for classroom instruction, we carry four pieces on the varied subjects of history, folk art, astronomy and chemistry (this year’s pull-out Teacher’s File). Interestingly, all four articles illustrate the fact that subjects are not watertight compartments, nor, for that matter, is academic learning separate from learning about life.
Two significant pieces on philosophy and ways of looking at the world: The Hedgehog and the Fox, and Healing our Civilisation’s Intellectual Schizophrenia are for those times when you feel like meeting an existential but also discursive challenge.
Finally, a word about the striking physical appearance of this issue. This is perhaps one of those few instances where the colour red signifies not stop, but GO ahead and read it!