Krishnamurti on Education
Talks to Teachers
Krishnamurti on Education Talk to Teachers Chapter 5 'On Competition'
We have been talking of establishing a right communication between ourselves and the student, and in the state of communion to bring about a different atmosphere or climate, in which the student begins to learn. I do not know if you have noticed that as frivolity is contagious so is seriousness. It is a seriousness that does not arise because of a heavy face or a heavy heart but a seriousness which comes into being when we are in a state of relationship, communion.
I think learning can exist only in that state of communion between the teacher and the student, as between you and me - not that I am your teacher. You know what the word "communion" means: to communicate, to be in touch, to transmit a certain feeling, to share it, not only at the verbal level but also at an intellectual level and also to feel much more deeply, subtly. I think the word "communion" means all that, and in that state, at all levels, in that atmosphere, in that sense of togetherness, is it not possible for both the teacher and the student to learn? I think that is the only state in which to learn, not when you sit on a pedestal and pour information down the throat of the student. Could we establish that communion, not only with the speaker but with trees, with nature, with the world, with the early morning when we get up, a sense of communion in which we learn?
This morning could we discuss something which I feel not only the professional teacher but the human being should consider, because what we are to discuss has a great deal of significance in life? The whole of civilization, not only in India but in the rest of the world, is geared to competition, to success, to achievement. The ambitious man seems to be the respected entity - the ambitious man, the aggressive man who wants to succeed, to intrigue, to pull strings and so get to the top of the heap. There is everlasting competition not only in the class room of a school but also in daily life, in the attitude of the clerk who feels he must become the manager and the manager the director and the director the board president and so on. This is the established pattern of existence in modern civilization. You see everywhere that man is after success and it is he who is respected, politically at least, and the same attitude exists in the school. You tell the student he is not as good, not as intelligent as another student. You coax the child, goad him, encourage him to compete, to succeed, to arrive at a certain intellectual level. You are worshippers of labels.
So you have an inborn attitude, which is essentially competitive and aggressive. This is so not only in economic and social life but also in religious life. There is this everlasting struggle to climb, to compete, to compare at all the levels of our being. Do you question this background of the superior and the inferior or do you accept it as inevitable and carry on? And will this bring about real learning? Is this natural to life? Natural not in the primitive sense of that word but is this a cultured life? Would you bring up your child this way? Do you think it is the right way of existence? I know it is the accepted pattern, but is it the true way? First of all, what does this competition, this comparison, do to the mind? Do you think you learn through competition? Let us examine this. You know that it is the established pattern at all levels of our being, at all stages of our existence, to compare, to have goals, to achieve. This is the whole structure of human existence.
When you see two pictures on the wall, your attitude is that if the name of the painter is well known, whatever he paints is excellent. But the man whose name is not known, his picture is inferior. This happens all the time. Is that right? Will that attitude bring comprehension, will that help us to learn? Not that I must not have the capacity to discriminate, but will comparison help the mind to understand, to learn? Is comparison a state of mind in which one learns?
How will you proceed to help the student if both you and the student have this attitude of competition, of comparison? Let us make this very simple. What does this competition do to the mind? What happens to the mind that is always comparing, achieving success, worshipping success?
Teacher: It is tiring itself.
Krishnamurti: You are still watching the effects, the results, but you are not watching the mind itself. You are not watching the nature of the mind itself which is doing this, the mind which is in movement, which is in a state of competition. Please look at the mind itself which is doing these things.
Teacher: If the mind is going to measure success by achievement, when it does not achieve, there is frustration.
Krishnamurti: You are still dealing with results. I want to tackle the mind. Perhaps analogies are tiring. The seed of an oak can never become the pine tree. You say: "I do not know what seed I am but I want to become a pine, or an ash, or the oak". We do not know the seed or the state of the mind itself, but concern ourselves with what it should be.
Let us experience the thing rather than verbalize it. We compete, worship success, because we feel that if we did not compete, we would stagnate. That is merely a speculative response, it is not an actual fact. You do not know what would happen. When you see what you are, whatever it is, then you begin to learn. Water is water in all circumstances whether it is in the river or in a single drink. At present we have no foundation from which to learn. What we are doing is merely adding. The additive process is what we call learning. It is no learning.
It is only the mind that is in a state in which it is not comparing, when it has understood the absurdity of comparing, that it can establish a foundation from which it can start to learn in the true sense of the word.
If there is such a foundation in which there is no wandering, no longing, it is a solid foundation and on that you can build. The building is the structure of learning and from that learning there is action and never conformity, and therefore never a sense of fear, never a sense of frustration.
Can you help the student to learn in that manner? For the student to learn, you must differentiate totally between the process of addition and learning. Then, you are creating a real human being, not a machine. If you do not see that, how are you going to help the student? Can you wipe away all competition with one sweep, which means can you wipe away the so-called structure of a society?
You are teachers; a new generation is coming into your hands. Do you want them to continue in the same way? If you feel that this society in which we have grown up is a rotten thing, how will you help the student to create a new quality of mind in which the monster of competition has no part? What are the steps you will take, day after day, to see that the child is not drowned, swallowed up by society? What will you do, step by step, to help him?
Teacher: The child should not be brought up with luxuries.
Krishnamurti: What is wrong with luxuries? He may wear clean clothes, he may sit in a chair, have good food. To me it is luxury, to you it is not. What has luxury to do with this? You are laying down the law, the ideal of "luxury".
Talk to the child not once a week, talk to him about it all the time, because he is being conditioned to compete. How will you help him not to be caught in the vicious circle of competition?
Teacher: By making him see that he should not be afraid and that as an individual he is unique and has a contribution to make. Krishnamurti: If an individual realizes he is unique, so unique that there is no other like him, is he unique factually? He comes with all the prejudices of his parents. Where is the uniqueness in that poor child? You have to strip him of all his conditioning and can you strip him of it? Is it not your function as a teacher to do that? It is your responsibility. You have to see it, to see that it is true; and you have to feel it so that you will transmit it. But the boy may not feel it is so urgent. How will you commune with the child so that he learns? How will you teach him or help him to learn without the spirit of competition?
Teacher: I am not able to feel for the child unless the feeling is inside me, and when it is not there I feel I have already destroyed the child.
Krishnamurti: I will tell you. Every case has its own lesson. You do not feel it because you yourself are competing. Are you not competing for money, position prestige? As long as you do not feel strongly about this, what will you do? You cannot wait till you completely understand. So what will you do? Do not give the student marks but keep a record for yourself to see how he is behaving, how he is learning and the stage of his knowledge and so on, but do not goad him and help him to compete.
Let us go over what we have discussed. Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased. The competitive spirit is merely an additive process which is not learning at all. We want the child to learn and not merely add knowledge to himself like a machine. To help the child to learn basically and fundamentally he must cease to compete, with all its implications. Now, one of the ways to do this is to I see the truth of not comparing. Now, how will you help the child not to be competitive?
Teacher: As I teach mathematics I think of the ways I can present the subject matter so that it will be interesting. So many things operate in relationship when a thing like this is presented, and how do we communicate them? It is a very vast thing, so we can only say it in parts.
Krishnamurti: You are not meeting the point. When I say: "What will you do?" I mean not only in terms of action but also in terms of feeling. They are not two different things, the feeling and the action. I see very clearly that competitiveness is destructive not only in the classroom but right through life. Here is a young child; I want to help him to understand. How am I to proceed? I can talk to him and say, "Look at what is happening in life. There is misery, conflict". Talk to him so that you do not create condemnation, you do not create reaction. Look at the picture. See it very clearly as you would see London or Bombay on the map. Help the student to see very clearly, that is the first job. Convey to him the urgency of the feeling. Do not try to convince him, influence him, do not talk to him in terms of condemnation, in terms of agreement, persuasion. Show him the fact. Establish the fact. Then you are dealing with him entirely factually, scientifically, not romantically, sentimentally or emotionally. You have established between him and you right relationship. You are dealing with facts and you have established a relationship between you of mutual understanding of the fact, the corruptive fact of competition. Then he and you sit down and say "What are we going to do actually, in action?"
Translation of the feeling of communion depends entirely on the intensity of this feeling. Now, you have established the feeling, the truth, the fact, that competition is deadly, but you have not communicated this fact to the child. That is the first thing to do.
Krishnamurti on Education
Talks to Teachers
Krishnamurti on Education Talk to Teachers Chapter 5 'On Competition'
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