Issue 24 - January 2020

When you look around you, not so much in the human world as in nature, in the heavens, you see an extraordinary sense of order, balance and harmony. Every tree and flower has its own order, its own beauty; every hilltop and every valley has a sense of its own rhythm and stability.

As I look over the past several issues of the Journal of the Krishnamurti Schools, it strikes me anew that there is a very consistent set of issues that the pieces in this publication tackle. The widest theme—the interrogation of human existence itself that Krishnamurti pursued with fierce compassion over several decades.

At the outset, we must be clear what the phrase ‘common ground of all humanity’ signifies. It could refer to many things—our relationship with nature, which goes back to our distant past; rationality...

I was lying in the shade on the Main House lawn looking up at the sky. The weather was warm, not hot. I could see the gentle breeze move through the trees. Nearby, other staff and faculty members were spread out around the lawn, gazebo, and pathways.

According to an ancient legend, the institution of marriage originated from the fickle-minded nature of man, who was born alone, grew up and soon started feeling the pangs of loneliness. He went to God in search of a pleasant, lovable companion. He found what he wanted; but in no time started feeling fed up with companionship.

My good friend and physics teacher, the nearly twice Dr Richard Taylor (he never finished his first PhD on how light bends around black holes), in a moment of exhaustion during our formative years as young teachers in a large comprehensive school in southern England, once misspelt this on the board:

In October 2001, I spent a month in Kutch. I was asked to photograph life nine months after the earthquake of 26 January. I planned forays in the districts of Anjar, Bhachhau and Bhuj. What I encountered left me shaken and numb. I could barely take any photographs. I spent my days going from home to home, listening to stories of survival and making many notes. I planned to write an account.

What does it mean to see nature? When we look at nature, do we try to comprehend it or is it a voluntary and purposeful act of observation? How does one separate a truthful vision and immediate experience of nature from the mirage of our renewed expectations from nature, literary and otherwise?

‘What ails the Adyar?’ was the title of the sociology project last year at The School, Chennai. The idea to use the river Adyar as an entry point for a group study on research methods came from environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman, who has been collecting narratives of residents living along the banks of the river as part of the work of his collective called the Vettiver Koottamaippu or Vettiver Collective.

Designing learning experiences in the outdoors feels like a balancing act—a dance of boundaries between structure and spontaneity. How does one choreograph this dance? How much do you structure?

My intention in teaching the ISC Environmental Science course is that when these children assume influential, decision-making positions in their life—in whatever field they choose to work in—they would take decisions that are environmentally sound.

Every May I interview about forty college applicants to Azim Premji University’s undergraduate program. My colleagues do the same. The students I meet come from all parts of the country and from different socioeconomic backgrounds. They have passed an academic baseline test and during the interview, my colleagues and I spend time trying to assess their understanding of a subject. 

Recently I stumbled upon Ria, a sixyear- old, playing with sticks and stones outside the class by the trees. She said how she would come to school every day, even on weekends if only she was allowed to just climb trees, play and run around in the outdoors.

This is the story of Kabir (name changed), who was referred by his teachers to the school counsellor for not coping well academically and for frequent outbursts of anger. Kabir was repeatedly injuring himself and crying in his room afterwards.

No, no! I can’t do that, I’ll get a consequence,” exclaimed the young child of not more than ten to his friend at breakfast in the school dining hall. The teacher, an accidental listener, while no doubt amused, could read absolutely no trace of sarcasm in this unorthodox usage of the word ‘consequence’ by the boy.

Seven and a half years ago, I started my first day of teaching at Oak Grove School. I had spent the summer planning lessons and figuring out how to adjust from teaching forty students a class to teaching twelve to sixteen. As 8:00 am approached, I put on my game face, ready to show the students that I was a force that should not be trifled with.

When I was younger, a question that I was often asked was about what I wanted to become when I grew up. As was the case with most children, I remember my answer changing fairly often with every phase that I went through.

Global Perspectives [GP] is offered as a subject by Cambridge across Primary to A Level. At present, Pathashaala makes GP compulsory for grades 9 and 10, and offers it as a subject at A Level. The curriculum offers many opportunities for children of all ages to learn, in ways that are not only multi-disciplinary but also cross-cultural.

The following piece was used over two successive year in a ‘club’, a learning-space with just a few people: one enthusiastic adult, two patient and polite children, in one instance, two boys, and in the other, two girls, between the ages of fourteen and sixteen.

One may live through many experiences every day, but it is reflecting upon these experiences which brings learning to life. Such reflection requires a deep and conscious level of inward journeying and an ability to express one’s perceptions in a viable, fearless manner.

The great twentieth century physicist, Richard Feynman, in an interview, pointed out how some of us are wary of looking too deeply into the structure of a discipline or a process, as we fear this might diminish the beauty inherent in it: