by Geetha Waters
the open sands on the west coast of Kerala, I saw the sun set
the Arabian Ocean. The light splayed over a mass of restless
heaving across a grey shoreline. The beach was littered by
nets, hamlets and children were vaulting over the sand
I had gone there with my mother to visit a colleague of hers
her high school. They were having a witty conversation and I
her speak of my school with some pride. I listened while the
looked at me quizzically.
mother said the teachers at my school were lucky that they only
around twenty students in each class. They laughed and
what it must be like to teach under such salubrious
I hadn't thought that it mattered so much. Why should
make a difference I wondered, the teacher would still do the
thing standing by the black board. But something in the way
looked at each other made me watch what went on at our
when I got back to Rishi Valley after my holidays.
in the Government School in Kerala I had watched my mother
she taught over fifty students at a time. I had gone to visit her
and colleagues during the holidays since many of them had
me as a toddler. There was little room for anything other
knuckling down to the basics in their classrooms. What
me was the furtive look of children sitting together under
roof with a sole provider of knowledge. I didn't see the same
of fear or restraint at my school. I wondered if that was
the children at Rishi Valley were mostly from affluent
It was a boarding facility and only wealthy parents from
India could afford to send their children there. My sister and
attended because my father was a member of staff. But that was
all. There was a concerted effort to address fear at the school,
realized, as I tried to figure out the difference in the atmosphere.
was also a concerted attempt to tone down the level of
between students. That was part of the stated
of the school.
time Krishnamurti came to visit, he would insist on
having the freedom to explore personal issues and
their concerns through dialogue. Dialogue was a period of
and exploration when we jostled for a space to
our thoughts in a way that would convince our peers
we had something relevant to say! Expressing our opinions
this way had an enormous impact on our passion for learning.
one thing, I realized how frustrating it was to express myself
There were time constraints, emotional constraints and
about etiquette. Savouring the inadequacy of words in
way was very much a part of our curriculum.
the patchy way we described things and clung to our
gave us a vital clue to the nature of thought and its
on discourse. Defining our feelings also created
room for error, we realized, leaving us open to a
of interpretations. The dynamic opened by discourse
inquiry into our feelings and opinion created room for self-
This gave us the opportunity to learn more about
from an early age.
mother died on the twenty seventh of July. She had no
in her mind that she had done the best for us by letting us
the school even though it meant that we grew up far
from her. I am glad I had the chance earlier this year to
to her how we had benefited from an education that
us in a serious inquiry throughout school. Disclosing
nature of thought helped us to undermine the authority of the
I will explain in the next issue how creating a
ground for learning can help children to come to
with the duality of existence.
Krishnamurti Australia Home