Krishnamurti, the quintessential teacher, offered deep insights and perspectives on the human condition and underlined the urgency of approaching the many problems of life with a new, awakened mind. To him, education was the primary means of bringing about a renewal in society. His passionate concern for education led him to envision and establish schools that were intended for the holistic growth of children so that they may become creative and responsible human beings. Only such individuals, he felt, could make a positive impact on a world riven by divisive and destructive forces.
Central to the vision of right education that Krishnamurti seeded, is the role of the teacher. If awakening minds (including one’s own) is central to the task of the teacher then the teacher himself needs a new kind of attunement. It is the ‘educator who needs educating’ Krishnamurti had asserted many a time. It is in response to this long felt need that the Centre for Teacher Learning (CTL) was recently established at the Bangalore Education Centre of the Krishnamurti Foundation India.
What does it mean to develop in teachers such an attunement? Does learning the subject to be taught at a greater depth and becoming aware of creative methods of teaching lead to such an attunement? Does learning about the philosophical underpinnings of education, about the advances made in understanding the psychology of children or about the complex relationship woven between school and society create an awakened mind? All this and more that is taught in teacher education courses are no doubt significant in themselves. However, a programme for teacher education deriving from Krishnamurti’s educational vision and insights needs to weave in other, deeper, strands of learning.
At the core of the multiple activities that the CTL aims to undertake in the future is a one year residential Teacher Education Programme (TEP) which is scheduled to be launched in June 2006. It hopes to bring together, on the lush, green campus of the Bangalore Education Centre, individuals with good minds who would like to make teaching their vocation. Some of them may have already been touched by Krishnamurti’s vision, others may be contemplating a career shift from another field into teaching, yet others may be young persons who have recently finished their graduation and wish to work in the area of educating children.
At a broad level, the TEP would aim to develop in the student a nuanced understanding of Krishnamurti’s vision and insights into education. Drawing from this spirit, there would be an emphasis on self-knowing and an enquirybased approach to the teaching-learning process. On a more practical level, the TEP would aim at developing and sharpening the abilities of its students to become facilitators of learning in a wide range of learning situations. Individualized selflearning, learning in small mixed age groups, learning through large group classroom teaching, activity-based learning, projectbased learning, as well as learning through informal interactions with others are some such situations to which the TEP student will get a first hand exposure. At yet another level, the TEP would aim to develop in the student an approach to learning that encompasses an ethic of enquiry into one’s daily life and entails a looking at the self through the ‘mirror of relationships’. This then becomes the basis for the developmentof human values.
With these broad objectives in mind, the TEP would aim specifically at enabling its students to become reflective practitioners, i.e. teachers who not only plan for their classes, but also reflect upon them and learn from their own practice and experience. In order to do this, the student would be led to widen his own understanding about the ways in which children learn and the various developmental stages that they go through. He would need to develop a repertoire of skills in classroom organisation as well as understand some basic principles of group organisation and dynamics in order to effectively structure learning situations for pupils. The student would be led to seek and articulate links between the theoretical inputs and the practical aspects of teaching.
Pupils and teachers most often come together in the act of learning a given subject. Therefore it is necessary for the student of the TEP to deepen and widen his understanding and knowledge of the subject that he wishes to teach. He would need to become aware of the range of methodologies for teaching the subject in order to develop a flexibility of approach with his pupils. As a teacher, one brings one’s entire persona to bear upon the situations that he encounters. In interaction with the pupils, the teacher is often brought face to face with the social, environmental as well as psychological issues of contemporary living. He is often called upon to act as a support to the child, an empathetic listener, or even as an informal counselor for the conflicts that the child is facing. It is therefore essential that the student of TEP engage with such issues and keep himself ‘in touch’ with the reality of the times.
The above objectives can only be realised if the student of the TEP makes a beginning at developing a deeper selfunderstanding. What are the influences that shape him and his concerns? Where do his responses emanate from? What lies beneath his thought processes and reaction patterns? Understanding the depth of one’s own conditioning and placing it in a perspective therefore becomes a key and often unexplored area of the process of‘becoming’ a teacher. This will form one ofthe strands of exploration throughoutthe TEP.
The TEP would strive to weave in the above objectives in the wider context of a national as well as international perspective on education, while keeping in view the need to align education with the lived reality of the children. It would attempt to balance a width of exposure (to mainstream urban schools, schools for the urban poor, rural schools, alternative schools and innovative educational projects) with a depth of understanding of the child as well as the process of teaching and learning.
In order to enhance the work of the CTL a Teacher Resource Centre (TRC) has already been started with the aim of gathering a range of resources–books, journals, articles, curricular materials, audiovisual and computer-based materials. Apart from the students of the TEP, the TRC will also be open for practicing teachers. Teachers in schools find themselves in the position of constantly giving–of their time, their knowledge, their emotional support and encouragement–in order to further the growth of their students. It is essential for them to have the opportunity to take time for their own growth –to pause, to read and reflect, to absorb new developments in the field, to consider alternative ways of educating students, and to deepen their selfunderstanding. The TRC hopes to support this need and nurture teacher growth.
To conclude, it would be appropriate to say that the Centre for Teacher Learning would develop into a platform for interaction and exchange among teachers, student teachers and the wider world of education and educationists in India and abroad. It should serve as a catalyst in the process of extending the reach of the educational work of the Krishnamurti foundations beyond the frontiers of the Krishnamurti schools.