Education and the Significance of Life – Jiddu Krishnamurthi

You need to understand 2 things : What your Education is REALLY meant to do for you and secondly, what is the significance of life? Put these two together and ensure that each does not contradict the other.

Chapter 1 : Points 

Everywhere around the world the education system is the same – a mould creating clones.

Independent thinking is snuffed out – that is what conventional education does.

Once you conform you become mediocre.

With age, people’s minds become dull because of this : Fear. The urge to pursue Reward, Security, Comfort to smother discontent.

Fear ends spontaneity & blocks the understanding of life.

In seeking comfort we avoid conflict and this fear of the new kills our spirit for adventure.

Our entire upbringing and miseducation has made us afraid to be different and falsely respectful of authority and tradition.

When we yield to our environment our spirit dies down and our responsibilities become a lid on our lives.

There is violent revolt and Intelligent Revolt. Intelligent Revolt comes with self-knowledge and awareness of our own thoughts and feelings. How do we keep Intelligence highly awakened? By facing experiences as they come (Yes, Man!), accepting everything including contrasts.

Intelligence highly awakened is Intuition – the only true guide in life.

What is the significance of life? Our lives will be shallow and empty if the purpose is merely to get a job, be more efficient  & to have domination over others and if we are provided with the knowledge to become experts then we become a menace to society – contributing to the destruction and misery of the world.

Can we conceptualize a Higher and Wider significance of life? As long as education does not cultivate an integrated outlook on life it has very little significance.

Instead of awakening the Integrated Intelligence of the individual, our education, rather, our miseducation, is encouraging conformity and hinders a person from comprehending him/herself as a total process. We’re trying to solve the many problems of existence at different levels – and this shows our utter lack of comprehension of a total process.

The individual is made up of different entities – and education should integrate them. To separate and develop them is to create complexities and contradictions. Without integration life becomes a series of conflicts and sorrows.

We must distinguish between the personal and the accidental.

All of us have been trained by education and environment to seek personal gain and security, and to fight for ourselves. Though we cover it over with pleasant phrases, we have been educated for various professions within a system which is based on exploitation and acquisitive fear.

A mind that has merely been trained is the continuation of the past, and such a mind can never discover the new. That is why, to find out what is right education, we will have to inquire into the whole significance of living.

Love is more efficient than ambition in the aim of education.  Love breeds integration; efficiency alone breeds ruthlessness.

A person who is always thinking is without thought; Thoughtless. Because his thinking is confined to a pattern. To understand life is to understand ourselves.  And that is the Beginning and the End of Education.

Education is to help you see the significance of life as a whole – and you cannot approach the Whole through parts. When human beings are integrated they are Intelligent.  Intelligence is the ability to See. Education is to awaken this ability in oneself and in others.

The purpose of education is to create integrated men and women who are free of Fear; for only when human beings are free from Fear can there be enduring peace.

It is in the understanding of ourselves that all Fear comes to an end.

Education should not encourage individuals to conform or to be negatively harmonious with it.

When there is no self knowledge, self-expression becomes self-assertion, with all its aggressive and ambitious conflicts.

What is the good of learning if in the process of living we are destroying ourselves?  I think most of us are aware of this, but we do not know how to deal with it.

The individual is of first importance, not the system; and as long as the individual does not understand the total process of himself, no system, whether of the left or of the right, can bring order and peace to the world.

Question : 

1. What is meant by Integration of the self?

2. How much of yourself in relation to your Inner World and your Outer World, have you come to understand through these classes?

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Self Actualization through language learning? Pt. 1 :Paradox of education.

  • We should teach people to be authentic, to be aware of their inner selves and to hear their inner-feeling voices.
  • We should teach people to transcend their cultural conditioning and become world citizens.
  • We should help people discover their vocation in life, their calling, fate or destiny. This is especially focused on finding the right career and the right mate.
  • We should teach people that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life, and if people are open to seeing the good and joyous in all kinds of situations, it makes life worth living.
  • We must accept the person as he or she is and help the person learn their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes and limitations we can know what to build upon, what potentials are really there.
  • We must see that the person’s basic needs are satisfied. This includes safety, belongingness, and esteem needs.
  • We should refreshen consciousness, teaching the person to appreciate beauty and the other good things in nature and in living.
  • We should teach people that controls are good, and complete abandon is bad. It takes control to improve the quality of life in all areas.
  • We should teach people to transcend the trifling problems and grapple with the serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, of pain, suffering, and death.
  • We must teach people to be good choosers. They must be given practice in making good choices.

Would you agree that those should be the goals of EDUCATION? And if so, which subjects are the best to teach these and if none are suitable, how must education be restructured in order for us to be able to teach these things?

The above points would be much easier to deliver if the goal of second language acquisition focuses on Language Acquisition, the bits of language, instead of a focus on Language Teaching, the atoms that build up our idea of language instruction. But is self-actualization the responsibility of the language teacher? Should it be?

Abraham Maslow believes that the only reason people would not move well in th direction of self-actualization is because of hindrances placed in their way by society. He states that education is one of these hindrances. He recommends ways education can switch from its usual person-stunting tactics to person-growing approaches. Maslow states that educators should respond to the potential an individual has for growing into a self-actualizing person of his/her own kind.

It is a paradox that education is a hindrance to Self-Actualization. “The current education system, in fact, has dissected and inverted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs so that belonging has been transformed from an unconditional need and right of all people into something that must be earned, something that can be achieved only by the “best” of us.”

“The perception that we must earn our right to belong permeates our society. A central tenet of our culture is that we value uniformity, and we make uniformity the criteria for belonging. Moreover, we exclude people because of their diversity.” [the full article here.]

Our schools, being a reflection of society, perpetuate this belief.  – When a school system makes belonging and acceptance conditional upon achievement, it basically leaves students with two options. They can either decide that they are incapable of attaining these expectation and therefore resign themselves to a feeling of personal inadequacy, or, they can decide to try to gain acceptance through achievement in a particular area (i.e. sports, academics, appearance). In either case, there are potential serious negative consequences for the students.

The question of attaining proficiency in ESL cannot be resolved independently of the problems facing education. Students wish to acquire English so that they feel a sense of belonging to the rest of our increasingly global and inter-connected world. But students should come into class equipped with the knowledge that the right to belong is already theirs and that pursuing a second language as part of a larger global community  is recreational as well as reflecting an innate motivation to learn for the sake of learning.  It is because students enter ESL classes with a sense of shame and failure that it becomes so much harder to immediately work on the language acquisition. My job as an ESL tutor becomes so much harder because I have to be counselor, therapist, motivator, role-model, instructor and surrogate parent all at once.  If I ignore the need to play all those roles, instruction alone would do nothing for learning. Isn’t our job as educators not to make sure teaching / instruction happens but instead to make sure learning happens?

However,  the things I have to do are negated in the wider scope of things because those hours of healing for learning are not reflected immediately in the barrage of standardized testing and world judgments students face on a quarterly or annual basis. I can understand that a student with low self-esteem would feel that a lack of outward representation of achievement (distinctions in certification, awards, etc) would mean they have actually failed in language learning. But what if the goals of education is about healing learners from their miseducation about learning, about life? If society becomes aware about the paradox of education and parents become aware of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs then only will the true meaning of education have value.

Should our goals, even as ESL practitioners, be about the bits that make up wholistic learning instead of the atoms that currently structure curricula around the world?

What is the purpose of going to school?

Excerpt from Sayling Wen’s 2000 book, the Future of Education. The same can be said of education throughout Asia.

Education’s greatest limitation today lies in its curriculum. Whether you like it or not you have got to study all the given subjects. Some students are forced to do what is clearly not their forte, and so they refuse to learn. Or perhaps we need not really delve so deeply into some subjects. If we can adopt the self-motivation method and give the curriculum more flexibility, we can both develop the students’ potential as well as enable him to learn what may be of practical use. We may reconcile the 2 theories (Knowledge-oriented Education & Multidirectional Balanced Development) even without the help of computer technology. But with the help of computer technology the results would be even better. For instance, a student with a great interest in vehicles could virtually handle cars on the computer, going through all the vehicle maintenance procedures.

Continue reading “What is the purpose of going to school?”

Education the great unequalizer. – learning English as a 2nd language.

One of the most naive assumptions I have made in life is that it is through education that a person has the best chance to shape his own destiny. Actually, education drives further apart the initial small divide. People with certain professions get to live in certain areas which gives them access to certain schools. People who are misinformed or less informed send their children unwittingly to “the wrong school”. This has serious repercussions; if you go to the wrong school, you’re going to miss experiencing certain things or learning from certain great mentors and these differences greatly affect how you shape your world beyond your education experience.

Continue reading “Education the great unequalizer. – learning English as a 2nd language.”

Part 3: The shape of education to come.

We are on the verge of radical shifts in our education systems, and not everyone will be happy to see them develop.

The pace of change mandates that we produce a faster, smarter, better grade of human being.  Current systems are preventing that from happening.  Future education systems will be unleashed with the advent of a standardized rapid courseware-builder and a single-point global distribution system. In the future, we predict students entering the workforce will be ten times smarter than they are today.

Continue reading “Part 3: The shape of education to come.”

Why School is Bad for you

I’ve now crossed the threshold from the Innovator’s Dilemma to being able to confidently be like the flight attendant that gestures and says, “This way please to the exit……stay calm but hurry up.”

Hey, nothing to worry about. It’s just the Plane of Education System crashing. No need to hurry. Take your time.theelemetbook They’ve still got fuel (government spending) even though both engines are out. There aren’t going to be enough parachutes for everyone but that’s OK….stay buckled in your seat, like how schools have taught you to just sit down and be a good little boy or girl.

I’m filing this under Thomas Frey’s Future of Education because I plan to bring everything I am coming across which supports the ideas outlined in his paper under one theme.

I hope I have convinced you to get your copy and make at least 5 other people get it too! (I have 2 at least count.) And if you do, please tell me about it so we can share the experience together.

Here are excerpts taken from Ken Robinson’s THE ELEMENT – HOW FINDING YOUR PASSION CHANGES EVERYTHING. Picture for illustration only. Continue reading “Why School is Bad for you”

Part 1 – The 8 driving forces changing education from the outside.

(1) If you haven’t yet, watch Sir Ken Robinson’s video, – Do Schools Kill Creativity to understand why school did it.

(2) Open your eyes to the world – we keep talking about creativity and innovation. If schools killed it, what happens to you when you leave?

(3) Now read this levelled-down version of Futurist Thomas Frey’s piece on The Future of Education.

INTRODUCTION

Within two years a radical shift will begin to occur in the world of education.

While many people are making predictions about the direction that education systems are headed, they have found the best predictors to be hidden in the participative viral systems springing to life in the online world, such as iTunes and Amazon.

These bottom-up approaches (organic!) are quick to develop, participant-driven systems that are closely aligned to the demands of the marketplace.

Futurist Thomas Frey and the members and associated research teams of DaVinci Institute collaborated on this research study. In this paper they focussed on the key missing elements that will cause the disruptive next generation education systems to emerge.

Continue reading “Part 1 – The 8 driving forces changing education from the outside.”

Mashup – Economics, Marketing, Advertising, Design, Communication & Education

I’ve been doing quite a lot of catching-up in the last couple of  months. Doing all of that in a backward little ancient city island like Penang kept me dangerously complacent about the rapid changes happening between 2000 – 2009. Web 1.0 (1989-1999) was nothing to shout about but I left the big city when Web2.0 turned many things on their head.

Continue reading “Mashup – Economics, Marketing, Advertising, Design, Communication & Education”

If I had my own school

Organic Learning

If I had my own school, every child will be free to bloom in their own time without interference, without the agenda of any adult, authority, getting in the way. We simply need to prepare optimum soil conditions and allow them to bring to bear the DNA that’s in their seed, for them to bring to bear their purpose in coming to this world, in designing the world.

I would not press upon children traditions and regulations and adult beliefs, which, I believe, is the cause of the brokeness in our world today. It is because of our faulty reasoning and beliefs and our insistance of passing them down generation upon generation, and disallowing examination, that is the root of our degeneration. I will allow each child the time and space to access the voice of God in them to ascertain for themselves and separete between incomplete thought, false ideas or Truth. If God made children, who are we to interfere with God’s work?

I, as well as all the teachers, will let learning happen the way Nature intended it to be : Organic. Organic learning means to provide optimum conditions based on how each organism is supposed to grow and develop. We will not mechanise things by setting ‘curriculum’. We will not try to speed growth up or employ artificial means as short-cuts to yield ‘results’. In other words, we will not assume to tamper with Nature’s Hand.

As a farmer, I must learn how each type of plant grows and observe how it interacts with nature to pollinate, grow or thrive. My job is not to force it to grow but to listen to the needs of the Land they are planted in (the environment or society a child is in) and to be sensitive enough to tend to the plant in ways that is helpful to its growth. The things I would need to cultivate in myself is simply a sensitivity to Life and an ability to examine and observe intelligently. From intelligent examination and reflections, I will develop more experience which I can then share with other farmers, about the organic process of Nature’s Work.

I will not try and cram children in small spaces like dairy-cows in their pens. I will not drill and exhaust them the way machines milk cows to their deaths. I will not push them to produce more eggs or milk the way schools push children to produce results. I will not burn their beaks with a solder in order to reduce the aggression and violence I have bred in them by conditioning them to the inhumane conditions which is a transit for the slaugterhouse. I will not treat children like ‘meat’ and ‘milk’ to serve the needs of Mass Economy Corporations.

Not that I’m equating children to vegetables and animals but biologically, Humans bear more resemblance to organic forms than the mineral/mechanical existence Industrialists and Feudal Lords tend to equate us to.

I’d let what the Earth can Grow to decide what the Market can demand as a need, instead of allowing Consumption to demand from Mother Earth, Her resources to produce for our greed. I will not subject children to experiments and be modified or turned into fighting beasts and working zombies. I will not let children become pawns to a world controlled by 1% of people who see everyone else in no other role except of Consumers and Human Resources.

So instead of forcing children to adapt to a marketplace, I’d let these Children grow up to design and create a world market that is just, fair and able to solve all human needs.

Abolishing vernacular schools and focussing on the actual problems of teaching Science and Math in English

Yes. We should abolish the term vernacular schools and make them equals to kebangsaan schools. Why do we call them ‘kebangsaan’ schools anyway? Schools that nationalize people? Do we need to actually ‘teach’ nationalization? We wouldn’t have had to if politics simply got out of the way of education. So, yes – we should abolish the term ‘salah satu jenis kebangsaan’ and make verncular schools kebangsaan schools. What’s wrong with simply celebrating the richness and diversity in languages that makes Malaysia so unique? What’s wrong with switching from one type of school to another? There would be nothing wrong if vernacular schools were simply just schools.

That Mahathir’s son…what’s his face – said that all vernacular schools should be abolished to promote unity. He has a point there eventhough he dared not say what really needs to be told. The problem is not in the teaching of non-Malay languages, the problem is the race-politics and racist indoctrinations promoted through these schools! He couldn’t come on out to just say that unless he went undercover (like I did) and saw it with his own dua-biji….mata.

I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he’s not some ignorant race-chauvinist because I have deep reverence for his father and respect for his sister. However, if he is the black sheep of the flock, then it would be truly regrettable despite the fact he came from such a pedigree stock.

Speaking of my reverence for Mahathir, there has been only one public policy he has stamped his mark on that I have not supported. (There may have been other views by him but I only pay attention to the headlines that get the most airtime, like KLCC, standing up to the IMF, the Look-East policy, championing South countries,…). Everything Mahathir suggests and says in public, I jump out of my chair in support. He could not have delivered it better. People who call him pemimpin kuku besi or hate his guts simply have none of their own. I suppose that’ explains the unmerited gravitational towards  Abdullah Badawi which ended up giving him such a landslide victory. Now that Malaysians get a true taste of what it’s like to have no-LP, I am sure they have a new appreciation of Mahathir.

Way back when, I knew Mahathir made the wrong move in pushing for Maths and Science in English. But to his credit, he didn’t have much time left. Whether he left it as it is or drove the gear into this massive experiment, nothing much is lost. He knew his successors would have neither the will, vision nor LP to consider radical change. At least in this way, we were jolted out of our very infamous Malaysian attitude of dragging our feet about getting anything worth doing done.

There are those who fret about how it’s been a great waste of time and money and our children being treated as guinea pigs. But what makes us so sure that the same amount of time and money would not have been spent on even more wasteful activities? Like, sending five space tourists instead of one?

At least, having done this form of ACTION RESEARCH we have amassed a mountain of data and insight into the deep problems of our nation’s human productivity and capacity and not wait til it is way too late. We Malaysians have a way of ignoring falling rocks and tilting buildings with an over-optimistic view that a massive erosion and landslide will not occur just because all the signs says it will. (Yes, just because). If we can ignore signs of devastating floods and landslides, do you trust us to actually ring the alarm on a quiet deterioration of Malaysian minds?

So now we know that most of our schoolteachers are not qualified! Hahahahaha! I am so delighted to know that I was right about some of my teachers – that they did not become qualified teachers by virtue of their initiative in learning nor pioneering insights to teaching. It also has nothing to do with inherent intelligence and productivity since everyone knows that teaching is the last resort for those who did not qualify for choice courses.

Memories are fallible, but perhaps some of my classmates could validate this later on. I remember one time in Form 4, I told my History teacher that in order to teach a chapter on the Industrial Revolution or the Renaissance or Islamic history, she needed to acquire the experience and covered reading the width and breadth of those his-stories. She did not know who Michaelangelo was and could not extend further about his works and pronounced his name, “Mee-kah-eh-lang-e-lo”.

Anyway, time to grow up and be an adult about this. I spoke at length to some primary school teachers and I actually sympathise with them. In front of a class, they have to present themselves as authorities. It’s probably very damaging for their self-esteem to have a student point out their ineffectiveness and ignorance, and disheartening to know that they cannot do their job to their best ability and holding their students back at the same time. That is what any teacher who is not proficient in English would be made to feel.

As Head of Department once, I had a choice between hiring a teacher who is fluent (but neither proficient nor had a convincing recipe for effective teaching) or a Chinese-educated teacher who has demonstrated a great ability to bond with students, is highly committed and dedicated to learning and is passionate about guiding her students to achieve. I chose the latter, because you can buy a piece of certificate, but you can never buy passion and the drive to learn. Of course, if I really had a choice, I’d go for a proficient speaker with insights into language learning and acquisition, training, width and breadth in knowledge, applications and theory, great presenter with humor yet able to control a class without being an impeding authority, etc.

From the day I started teaching, I’ve always had this fantasy that we could do teacher-training the way we do direct-selling training. I really love the way the MLM-ers achieve their goals. The good companies have a wonderful mentoring system with practical coaching and motivating approaches and tools to drive people to become self-starters. I’ve always told myself, if I had not had a taste for words and writing and teaching, there is nothing I would love better to be than a network marketing coach who started out as the door-to-door saleslady working on commissions.

The only way I can see the government really helping teachers train and be self-starters is to include other-medium language schools in their fold – not as stepmothers, but lawful mothers of our future nation. I am sick and tired of the race politics being played out in school. I know though, that if we allow students to transfer from one-medium to another and have the flexibility of starting at a lower grade for certain subjects which they want to take in the other language and be allowed to take effective FL classes, racial politics could never happen in school. Imagine what would happen if children came back and could give feedback of what’s happening in their school that is negatively different from what they’ve experienced elsewhere? Imagine if there was a programme where teachers can transfer to different medium schools to share with other teachers their strengths and expertise in teaching a particular subject in L1 or as a second-language? Not only would it eradicate the opportunities for creating strongholds in racist ideologies, it would promote the proliferation of knowledge and languages.

Sigh…someone should really make me Hishamuddin’s policy writer. His policies would be so successful and popular it would propel him to Premiership even if his cousin was in his way.

Read more articles like this :

More Hours For English Lessons in Primary School 

Singapore and Malaysia Education for the 21st Century : More alike than different. 

In Support of Bahasa Malaysia Not English

Why Malay and Chinese Nationalists Protest over the teaching of Math and Science in English