Jiddu Krishnamurti on right Kind of
Education for Children
Jiddu Krishnamurti - The right kind of education begins with the
educator, who must understand himself and be free from established
patterns of thought; for what he is, that he imparts. If he has not been
rightly educated, what can he teach except the same mechanical knowledge
on which he himself has been brought up? The problem, therefore, is not
the child, but the parent and the teacher; the problem is to educate the
If we who are the educators do not understand ourselves, if we do not
understand our relationship with the child but merely stuff him with
information and make him pass examinations, how can we possibly bring
about a new kind of education? The pupil is there to be guided and
helped; but if the guide, the helper is himself confused and narrow,
nationalistic and theory-ridden, then naturally his pupil will be what
he is, and education becomes a source of further confusion and strife.
If we see the truth of this, we will realize how important it is that we
begin to educate ourselves rightly. To be concerned with our own
re-education is far more necessary than to worry about the future
well-being and security of the child.
To educate the educator - that is, to have him understand himself - is
one of the most difficult undertakings, because most of us are already
crystallized within a system of thought or a pattern of action; we have
already given ourselves over to some ideology, to a religion, or to a
particular standard of conduct. That is why we teach the child what to
think and not how to think.
Moreover, parents and teachers are largely occupied with their own
conflicts and sorrows. Rich or poor, most parents are absorbed in their
personal worries and trials. They are not gravely concerned about the
present social and moral deterioration, but only desire that their
children shall be equipped to get on in the world. They are anxious
about the future of their children, eager to have them educated to hold
secure positions, or to marry well.
Contrary to what is generally believed, most parents do not love their
children, though they talk of loving them. If parents really loved their
children, there would be no emphasis laid on the family and the nation
as opposed to the whole, which creates social and racial divisions
between men and brings about war and starvation. It is really
extraordinary that, while people are rigorously trained to be lawyers or
doctors, they may become parents without undergoing any training
whatsoever to fit them for this all-important task.
More often than not, the family, with its separate tendencies,
encourages the general process of isolation, thereby becoming a
deteriorating factor in society. It is only when there is love and
understanding that the walls of isolation are broken down, and then the
family is no longer a closed circle, it is neither a prison nor a
refuge; then the parents are in communion, not only with their children,
but also with their neighbours. Being absorbed in their own problems,
many parents shift to the teacher the responsibility for the well-being
of their children; and then it is important that the educator help in
the education of the parents as well.
He must talk to them, explaining that the confused state of the world
mirrors their own individual confusion. He must point out that
scientific progress in itself cannot bring about a radical change in
existing values; that technical training, which is now called education,
has not given man freedom or made him any happier; and that to condition
the student to accept the present environment is not conducive to
intelligence. He must tell them what he is attempting to do for their
child, and how he is setting about it. He has to awaken the parents'
confidence, not by assuming the authority of a specialist dealing with
ignorant laymen, but by talking over with them the child's temperament,
difficulties, aptitudes and so on.
If the teacher takes a real interest in the child as an individual, the
parents will have confidence in him. In this process, the teacher is
educating the parents as well as himself, while learning from them in
return. Right education is a mutual task demanding patience,
consideration and affection. Enlightened teachers in an enlightened
community could work out this problem of how to bring up children, and
experiments along these lines should be made on a small scale by
interested teachers and thoughtful parents.
Do parents ever ask themselves why they have children? Do they have
children to perpetuate their name, to carry on their property? Do they
want children merely for the sake of their own delight, to satisfy their
own emotional needs? If so, then the children become a mere projection
of the desires and fears of their parents. Can parents claim to love
their children when, by educating them wrongly, they foster envy, enmity
and ambition? Is it love that stimulates the national and racial
antagonisms which lead to war, destruction and utter misery, that sets
man against man in the name of religions and ideologies?
Many parents encourage the child in the ways of conflict and sorrow, not
only by allowing him to be submitted to the wrong kind of education, but
by the manner in which they conduct their own lives; and then, when the
child grows up and suffers, they pray for him or find excuses for his
behaviour. The suffering of parents for their children is a form of
possessive self-pity which exists only when there is no love.
If parents love their children, they will not be nationalistic, they
will not identify themselves with any country; for the worship of the
State brings on war, which kills or maims their sons. If parents love
their children, they will discover what is right relationship to
property; for the possessive instinct has given property an enormous and
false significance which is destroying the world. If parents love their
children, they will not belong to any organized religion; for dogma and
belief divide people into conflicting groups, creating antagonism
between man and man. If parents love their children, they will do away
with envy and strife, and will set about altering fundamentally the
structure of present-day society.
As long as we want our children to be powerful, to have bigger and
better positions, to become more and more successful, there is no love
in our hearts; for the worship of success encourages conflict and
misery. To love one's children is to be in complete communion with them;
it is to see that they have the kind of education that will help them to
be sensitive, intelligent and integrated.
The first thing a teacher must ask himself, when he decides that he
wants to teach, is what exactly he means by teaching. Is he going to
teach the usual subjects in the habitual way? Does he want to condition
the child to become a cog in the social machine, or help him to be an
integrated, creative human being, a threat to false values? And if the
educator is to help the student to examine and understand the values and
influences that surround him and of which he is a part, must he not be
aware of them himself? If one is blind, can one help others to cross to
the other shore?
Surely, the teacher himself must first begin to see. He must be
constantly alert, intensely aware of his own thoughts and feelings,
aware of the ways in which he is conditioned, aware of his activities
and his responses; for out of this watchfulness comes intelligence, and
with it a radical transformation in his relationship to people and to
Intelligence has nothing to do with the passing of examinations.
Intelligence is the spontaneous perception which makes a man strong and
free. To awaken intelligence in a child, we must begin to understand for
ourselves what intelligence is; for how can we ask a child to be
intelligent if we ourselves remain unintelligent in so many ways? The
problem is not only the student's difficulties, but also our own: the
cumulative fears, unhappiness and frustrations of which we are not free.
In order to help the child to be intelligent, we have to break down
within ourselves those hindrances which make us dull and thoughtless.
How can we teach children not to seek personal security if we ourselves
are pursuing it? What hope is there for the child if we who are parents
and teachers are not entirely vulnerable to life, if we erect protective
walls around ourselves? To discover the true significance of this
struggle for security, which is causing such chaos in the world, we must
begin to awaken our own intelligence by being aware of our psychological
processes; we must begin to question all the values which now enclose
We should not continue to fit thoughtlessly into the pattern in which we
happen to have been brought up. How can there ever be harmony in the
individual and so in society if we do not understand ourselves? Unless
the educator understands himself, unless he sees his own conditioned
responses and is beginning to free himself from existing values, how can
he possibly awaken intelligence in the child? And if he cannot awaken
intelligence in the child, then what is his function?
It is only by understanding the ways of our own thought and feeling that
we can truly help the child to be a free human being; and if the
educator is vitally concerned with this, he will be keenly aware, not
only of the child, but also of himself.
Very few of us observe our own thoughts and feelings. If they are
obviously ugly, we do not understand their full significance, but merely
try to check them or push them aside. We are not deeply aware of
ourselves; our thoughts and feelings are stereotyped, automatic. We
learn a few subjects, gather some information, and then try to pass it
on to the children.
But if we are vitally interested, we shall not only try to find out what
experiments are being made in education in different parts of the world,
but we shall want to be very clear about our own approach to this whole
question; we shall ask ourselves why and to what purpose we are
educating the children and ourselves; we shall inquire into the meaning
of existence, into the relationship of the individual to society, and so
on. Surely, educators must be aware of these problems and try to help
the child to discover the truth concerning them, without projecting upon
him their own idiosyncrasies and habits of thought.
Merely to follow a system, whether political or educational, will never
solve our many social problems; and it is far more important to
understand the manner of our approach to any problem, than to understand
the problem itself.
If children are to be free from fear - whether of their parents, of
their environment, or of God - the educator himself must have no fear.
But that is the difficulty: to find teachers who are not themselves the
prey of some kind of fear. Fear narrows down thought and limits
initiative, and a teacher who is fearful obviously cannot convey the
deep significance of being without fear. Like goodness, fear is
contagious. If the educator himself is secretly afraid, he will pass
that fear on to his students, although its contamination may not be
Suppose, for example, that a teacher is afraid of public opinion; he
sees the absurdity of his fear, and yet cannot go beyond it. What is he
to do? He can at least acknowledge it to himself, and can help his
students to understand fear by bringing out his own psychological
reaction and openly talking it over with them. This honest and sincere
approach will greatly encourage the students to be equally open and
direct with themselves and with the teacher.
To give freedom to the child, the educator himself must be aware of the
implications and the full significance of freedom. Example and
compulsion in any form do not help to bring about freedom, and it is
only in freedom that there can be self-discovery and insight. The child
is influenced by the people and the things about him, and the right kind
of educator should help him to uncover these influences and their true
worth. Right values are not discovered through the authority of society
or tradition; only individual thoughtfulness can reveal them.
If one understands this deeply, one will encourage the student from the
very beginning to awaken insight into present-day individual and social
values. One will encourage him to seek out, not any particular set of
values, but the true value of all things. One will help him to be
fearless, which is to be free of all domination, whether by the teacher,
the family or society, so that as an individual he can flower in love
and goodness. In thus helping the student towards freedom, the educator
is changing his own values also; he too is beginning to be rid of the
`'me'' and the ``mine,'' he too is flowering in love and goodness. This
process of mutual education creates an altogether different relationship
between the teacher and the student.
Domination or compulsion of any kind is a direct hindrance to freedom
and intelligence. The right kind of educator has no authority, no power
in society; he is beyond the edicts and sanctions of society. If we are
to help the student to be free from his hindrances, which have been
created by himself and by his environment, then every form of compulsion
and domination must be understood and put aside; and this cannot be done
if the educator is not also freeing himself from all crippling
To follow another, however great, prevents the discovery of the ways of
the self; to run after the promise of some ready-made Utopia makes the
mind utterly unaware of the enclosing action of its own desire for
comfort, for authority, for someone else's help. The priest, the
politician, the lawyer, the soldier, are all there to ``help'' us; but
such help destroys intelligence and freedom. The help we need does not
lie outside ourselves. We do not have to beg for help; it comes without
our seeking it when we are humble in our dedicated work, when we are
open to the understanding of our daily trials and accidents.
We must avoid the conscious or unconscious craving for support and
encouragement, for such craving creates its own response, which is
always gratifying. It is comforting to have someone to encourage us, to
give us a lead, to pacify us; but this habit of turning to another as a
guide, as an authority, soon becomes a poison in our system. The moment
we depend on another for guidance, we forget our original intention,
which was to awaken individual freedom and intelligence.
All authority is a hindrance, and it is essential that the educator
should not become an authority for the student. The building up of
authority is both a conscious and an unconscious process.
The student is uncertain, groping, but the teacher is sure in his
knowledge, strong in his experience. The strength and certainty of the
teacher give assurance to the student, who tends to bask in that
sunlight; but such assurance is neither lasting nor true. A teacher who
consciously or un consciously encourages dependence can never be of
great help to his students. He may overwhelm them with his knowledge,
dazzle them with his personality, but he is not the right kind of
educator because his knowledge and experiences are his addiction, his
security, his prison; and until he himself is free of them, he cannot
help his students to be integrated human beings.
To be the right kind of educator, a teacher must constantly be freeing
himself from books and laboratories; he must ever be watchful to see
that the students do not make of him an example, an ideal, an authority.
When the teacher desires to fulfil himself in his students, when their
success is his, then his teaching is a form of self-continuation, which
is detrimental to self-knowledge and freedom. The right kind of educator
must be aware of all these hindrances in order to help his students to
be free, not only from his authority, but from their own self-enclosing
Unfortunately, when it comes to understanding a problem, most teachers
do not treat the student as an equal partner; from their superior
position, they give instructions to the pupil, who is far below them.
Such a relationship only strengthens fear in both the teacher and the
student. What creates this unequal relationship? Is it that the teacher
is afraid of being found out? Does he keep a dignified distance to guard
his susceptibilities, hide importance? Such superior aloofness in no way
helps to break down the barriers that separate individuals. After all,
the educator and his pupil are helping each other to educate themselves.
All relationship should be a mutual education; and as the protective
isolation afforded by knowledge, by achievement, by ambition, only
breeds envy and antagonism, the right kind of educator must transcend
these walls with which he surrounds himself.
Because he is devoted solely to the freedom and integration of the
individual, the right kind of educator is deeply and truly religious. He
does not belong to any sect, to any organized religion; he is free of
beliefs and rituals, for he knows that they are only illusions, fancies,
superstitions projected by the desires of those who create them. He
knows that reality or God comes into being only when there is
self-knowledge and therefore freedom.
People who have no academic degrees often make the best teachers because
they are willing to experiment; not being specialists, they are
interested in learning, in understanding life. For the true teacher,
teaching is not a technique, it is his way of life; like a great artist,
he would rather starve than give up his creative work. Unless one has
this burning desire to teach, one should not be a teacher. It is of the
utmost importance that one discover for oneself whether one his this
gift, and not merely drift into teaching because it is a means of
As long as teaching is only a profession, a means of livelihood, and not
a dedicated vocation, there is bound to be a wide gap between the world
and ourselves: our home life and our work remain separate and distinct.
As long as education is only a job like any other, conflict and enmity
among individuals and among the various class levels of society are
inevitable; there will be increasing competition, the ruthless pursuit
of personal ambition, and the building up of the national and racial
divisions which create antagonism and endless wars.
But if we have dedicated ourselves to be the right kind of educators, we
do not create barriers between our home life and the life at school, for
we are everywhere concerned with freedom and intelligence. We consider
equally the children of the rich and of the poor, regarding each child
as an individual with his particular temperament, heredity, ambitions,
and so on. We are concerned, not with a class, not with the powerful or
the weak, but with the freedom and integration of the individual.
Dedication to the right kind of education must be wholly voluntary. It
should not be the result of any kind of persuasion, or of any hope of
personal gain; and it must be devoid of the fears that arise from the
craving for success and achievement. The identification of oneself with
the success or failure of a school is still within the field of personal
motive. If to teach is one's vocation, if one looks upon the right kind
of education as a vital need for the individual, then one will not allow
oneself to be hindered or in any way sidetracked either by one's own
ambitions or by those of another; one will find time and opportunity for
this work, and will set about it without seeking reward, honour or fame.
Then all other things - family, personal security, comfort - become of
If we are in earnest about being the right kind of teachers, we shall be
thoroughly dissatisfied, not with a particular system of education, but
with all systems, because we see that no educational method can free the
individual. A method or a system may condition him to a different set of
values, but it cannot make him free.
One has to be very watchful also not to fall into one's own particular
system, which the mind is ever building. To have a pattern of conduct,
of action, is a convenient and safe procedure, and that is why the mind
takes shelter within its formations. To be constantly alert is
bothersome and exacting, but to develop and follow a method does not
Repetition and habit encourage the mind to be sluggish; a shock is
needed to awaken it, which we then call a problem. We try to solve this
problem according to our well-worn explanations, justifications and
condemnations, all of which puts the mind back to sleep again. In this
form of sluggishness the mind is constantly being caught, and the right
kind of educator not only puts an end to it within himself, but also
helps his students to be aware of it.
Some may ask, ``How does one become the right kind of educator?''
Surely, to ask ``How'' indicates, not a free mind, but a mind that is
timorous, that is seeking an advantage, a result. The hope and the
effort to become something only makes the mind conform to the desired
end, while a free mind is constantly watching, learning, and therefore
breaking through its self-projected hindrances.
Freedom is at the beginning, it is not something to be gained at the
end. The moment one asks ``How,'' one is confronted with insurmountable
difficulties, and the teacher who is eager to dedicate his life to
education will never ask this question, for he knows that there is no
method by which one can become the right kind of educator. If one is
vitally interested, one does not ask for a method that will assure one
of the desired result.
Can any system make us intelligent? We may go through the kind of a
system, acquire degrees, and so on; but will we then be educators, or
merely the personifications of a system? To seek reward, to want to be
called an outstanding educator, is to crave recognition and praise; and
while it is sometimes agreeable to be appreciated and encouraged, if one
depends upon it for one's sustained interest, it becomes a drug of which
one soon wearies. To expect appreciation and encouragement is quite
If anything new is to be created, there must be alertness and energy,
not bickerings and wrangles. If one feels frustrated in one's work, then
boredom and weariness generally follow. If one is not interested, one
should obviously not go on teaching.
But why is there so often a lack of vital interest among teachers? What
causes one do feel frustrated? Frustration is not the result of being
forced by circumstances to do this or that; it arises when we do not
know for ourselves what it is that we really want to do. Being confused,
we get pushed around, and finally land in something which has no appeal
for us at all.
If teaching is our true vocation, we may feel temporarily frustrated
because we have not seen a way out of this present educational
confusion; but the moment we see and understand the implications of the
right kind of education, we shall have again all the necessary drive and
enthusiasm. It is not a matter of will or resolution, but of perception
If teaching is one's vocation, and if one perceives the grave importance
of the right kind of education, one cannot help but be the right kind of
educator. There is no need to follow any method. The very fact of
understanding that the right kind of education is indispensable if we
are to achieve the freedom and integration of the individual, brings
about a fundamental change in oneself. If one becomes aware that there
can be peace and happiness for man only through right education, then
one will naturally give one's whole life and interest to it.
One teaches because one wants the child to be rich inwardly, which will
result in his giving right value to possessions. Without inner richness,
worldly things become extravagantly important, leading to various forms
of destruction and misery. One teaches to encourage the student to find
his true vocation, and to avoid those occupations that foster antagonism
between man and man. One teaches to help the young towards
self-knowledge, without which there can be no peace, no lasting
happiness. One's teaching is not self-fulfilment, but self-abnegation.
Without the right kind of teaching, illusion is taken for reality, and
then the individual is ever in conflict within himself, and therefore
there is conflict in his relationship with others, which is society. One
teaches because one sees that self-knowledge alone, and not the dogmas
and rituals of organized religion, can bring about a tranquil mind; and
that creation, truth, God, comes into being only when the ``me'' and the
``mine'' are transcended.
Source- J Krishnamurti Book "Education and the
Significance of Life"
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