Saturday, April 10, 2010

Educating the Parent

I was introduced to J. Krishnamurthy by Bal .  Prior to my knowing him, I do not remember that if I had passed through any of J.K’s writings or even remember hearing his name. That was in 1983. In any case I was not erudite in reading matters of substance.
I have only read a few of his books and do not even remember if I have read any from cover to cover. Yes, but I have read his “Commentaries on Living”, and that had enough provocative package to think. And there was this captivating appearance of his in photographs, (as I have not seen him in flesh and blood) that was haunting as his words. They make you think and not stay foolishly yawning. I may not agree with his expressions on subjects’ carte blanche. But still many times I found it difficult to defy his opinions with any logic that I could. In fact when somebody calls spade a spade it may not be even within the realms of Einstine to offer a theory or statement to the contrary.


I missed sending Ara and R to a school run by the Krishnamurthy foundation, though I have wanted that.  And now when R expressed that she wants a change of school from the last ten years in Connoor the first choice was the Krishnamurthy foundation schools nearby. So few days back I. and C along with R went to the School outside Bangalore for the interview and selection process for admit to class XI.

The school was set in a 100 acres verdant forest land. The reserve forest was engulfing one side. The Principal in the course of our discussion expressed that they always look out for fascinating encounters with the wild life that strays into the boundary of the school.

The children were ushered into the Physics lab for a short written test. And parents along with the Principal and few teachers sat on the mattress in the thatched auditorium. A short video film on a talk by JK was screened. The topic he commented was ‘Education’.

In Krishnamurthy’s very own words,”…if you dominate a child, compel him to fit into a pattern, however idealistic, will he be free at the end of it? If we want to bring about a true revolution in education, there must obviously be freedom at the very beginning, which means that both the parent and the teacher must be concerned with freedom…” But then his views on education like his views on other matters were rubbished as impractical

 The film I presume was perhaps one of his last few public experiences .After the film the Principal invited the parents to interact and express why they wanted to seek admission for their wards in a school run by the foundation and what education they want the child to imbibe.

Quirk some were the comments that followed!!!

The first speaker parent fell head over heels – semi prostrate like they do for ‘namaz’.
“Praise to Sri Sri Sri Krishnamurthy”, he began. It was amusing and also a stunningly comical beginning to the interaction. It also immediately reminded me about the religious cults that mushroomed with the camouflage of yoga discourses and hearty living etc. I adamantly decided that this guy was from the particular Swamy’s cult. And bingo he was ha !!Then came the lectures and discourses from a retinue of parents. Discourses, ideas statements that I m certain J. Krishnamurthy never thought of even remotely. One parent began his soliloquy and ended saying that “…. so we all should work towards achieving Krishnamurthy’s dreams”. The Principal a demure looking man suggested politely that JK had no goals and dreams. The parent looked bewildered and I m sure must have decided that the Principal was definitely a nitwit to say so. I felt that the Principal was unwittingly sparking a controversy suggesting that JK never said or meant what they were wholeheartedly attributing to him.
Then a parent mother began in a forcibly accented English,” You see the strife in this world is caused purely out of our greed, our lust to achieve. We feel that a luxury car, a LED Television, a journey to Walt Disney etc is necessary. JK was different. He never asked for all this luxury….”. Oh my goodness I wondered with discomfiture this woman was making a Mahatma Gandhi out of J. Krishnamurthy.

Another parent began her discourse. She gave the feeling that she wanted to anoint JK posthumously a ‘swamy’ a ‘god- man’. Yet another suggested after his comments that we all must work towards setting up a JK country.

There were fascinating retorts subtlety stated by the Principal and another teacher. But in the final analysis I felt most  that  the parents missed out on the vital question that JK made in the film,” what kind of education do you as parent want for your child”.

During his life what Jiddu Krishnamurthy said and wrote ignited both interest and controversy. His observations on religion, nationalism, tradition, organizations, and relationships often ran counter to the convention of the day. I state this with a very basic and limited reading I have had of Jiddu Krishnamurthy’s writings. I felt after listening to the people who were there to deposit their children into JK’s lap for education that they have missed the wagon.
As he was during his life he still is ahead of his time, our time, in matters of education, religious views, nationalism, relationships etc. Sadly they missed the gentle speech of the ‘old man and insights on education. Krishnamurthy presented education as a serious activity that must engulf the whole of a child whilst people, most of them still see it as preparation for succeeding in a materialistic world. 
I came out of the school concluding that the vogue of the upper middle class including myself is pure hypo critic bonhomie with Krishnamurthy. And it is sheer vanity that expresses the sobriquet ‘JK’ nothing more, nothing less. Will the children be different?

1 comment:

Balachandran V said...

The point is why one should chose Rishi Valley or other JK Foundation schools over others? It should be for the values and philosophy that guides JK foundation. Unfortunately, every good thing in this country will come to nought because of people like those whom you have described.