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Letters to The Schools 1


Letters to Schools Volume One 1st March, 1980

You come to these schools with your own background - be it traditional or free - with discipline or without discipline, obeying or reluctant and disobeying, in revolt or conforming. Your parents are either negligent or very diligent about you; some may feel very responsible, others may not. You come with all this trouble,with broken families, uncertain or assertive,wanting your way or shyly acquiescing but inwardly rebelling.

In these schools you are free, and all the disturbances of your young lives come into play. You want your way and no one in the world can have his way. You have to understand this very seriously - you cannot have your own way. Either you learn to adjust with understanding, with reason, or you are broken by the new environment you have entered. It is very important to understand this. In these schools the educators carefully explain and you can discuss with them, have a dialogue, and see why certain things have to be done. When one lives in a small community of teachers and students it is necessary that they have a good relationship with each other, friendly, affectionate, and with a certain quality of attentive comprehension. No one, especially nowadays, living in a free society likes rules, and rules become totally unnecessary when you and the grown-up educator understand, not only verbally and intellectually but with your heart, that certain disciplines are necessary. The word discipline has been ruined by the authoritarians. Each craft has its own discipline, its own skill. The word discipline comes from the word disciple - to learn; not conform, not rebel, but to learn about your own reactions, your own background, their limitation, and to go beyond them. The essence of learning is constant movement without a fixed point. If its point becomes your prejudice, your opinions and conclusions and you start from this handicap, then you cease to learn. Learning is infinite. The mind that is constantly learning is beyond all knowledge. So you are here to learn as well as to communicate. Communication is not only the exchange of words, however articulate and clear those words may be; it is much deeper than that. Communication is learning from each other, understanding each other, and this comes to an end when you have taken a definite stand about some trivial or not fully thought-out act.

When one is young there is an urge to conform, not to feel out of it; to learn the nature and implication of conformity brings its own peculiar discipline. Please always bear in mind when we use that word that both the student and the educator are in a relationship of learning, not assertion and acceptance. When this is clearly understood rules become unnecessary. When this is not clear, then rules have to be made. You may revolt against rules, against being told what to do or not to do, but when you quickly understand the nature of learning, rules will disappear altogether. It is only the obstinate the self-assertive,who bring about rules;thou shalt and thou shalt not.

Learning is not born out of curiosity. You may be curious about sex: that curiosity is based on pleasure, on some kind of excitement, on the attitudes of others. The same applies to drink, drugs, smoking. Learning is far deeper and more extensive. You learn about the universe not out of pleasure or curiosity but out of your relationship to the world. We have divided learning into separate categories depending on the demands of society or your own personal inclination.

We are not talking of learning about something, but the quality of the mind that is willing to learn. You can learn how to become a good carpenter or a gardener or an engineer, and when you have acquired the skill in these you have narrowed down your mind into a tool that can function perhaps skilfully in a certain pattern. This is what is called learning. This gives a certain security financially and perhaps that is all one wants, and so we create a society which provides what we have asked of it. But when there is this extra quality of learning not about something, then you have a mind and, of course,a heart that are timelessly alive.

Discipline is not control or subjugation. Learning implies attention, that is to be diligent. It is only the negligent mind that is never learning. It is forcing itself to accept when it is shallow, careless, indifferent. A diligent mind is actively watching, observing, never sinking into secondhand values and beliefs. A mind that is learning is a free mind and freedom demands the responsibility of learning. The mind that is caught in self-opinion, entrenched in some knowledge, may demand freedom, but what it means by freedom is the expression of its own personal attitudes and conclusions, and when this is thwarted it cries for self-fulfilment. Freedom has no sense of fulfilment:it is free.

So when you come to these schools, or to any school in fact, there must be this gentle quality of learning and with it goes a great sense of affection. When you are really deeply affectionate you are learning.

Letters to The Schools 1


Letters to Schools Volume One 1st March, 1980

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