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Letters to The Schools 2

1982

Letters to The Schools Volume 2 1st December 1982

It appears that very few teachers are aware of their great responsibility, not only to the parents, but also in their relationship to the students. What is this relationship? How does one regard this relationship? Is it communication of information? Is it the verbal statement of certain facts, and is the relationship superficial, casual and passing? Is the teacher an example? Am I as a teacher an influence? If I am an example that some of my students should follow, then I become a tyrant; then discipline becomes conformity. They imitate me, my ways, my gestures and so on. But I do not want them to follow me, to influence them. I want them to understand how all of us are influenced, moulded to conform to a pattern. My perception, my intention is to help my students to be free of every kind of influence, good or bad, so that they see for themselves what is right action. Not to be told what is right action but to have the capacity and drive to see the false and the true. That is, my concern is primarily to cultivate their intelligence so that they can meet life with all its complexities intelligently. I see this not as a goal but as an immediate reality. I know they are influenced by their parents, by their fellow students and by the world around them. Young people are easily influenced. They may rebel against it but consciously or unconsciously there is pressure and the strain of this pressure. So I ask my self as a teacher, and as a human being, in what manner can I bring about the character and energy of that intelligence?

I begin to see that I must be both introvert and extrovert, in the world of action, and inwardly not be self-centred but turn my eyes and my hearing to the subtleties of life. That is, I must be able to protect and at the same time cultivate generosity, be both the receiver and the giver. I feel all this if I am a really dedicated teacher in the true sense of that word. To me it is not a profession; it is something that has to be done. So I become very much more aware of the world, what is happening there, and inwardly comprehend the necessity to go beyond and above self-centred interest. I see this as a whole movement, the outward and the inner, indivisible like the waters of the sea that come in and go out. Now my question is: how am I to help the student to be aware of this?

Sensitivity implies being vulnerable. One is sensitive to one's reactions, to one's hurts, one's beleaguered existence: that is, one is sensitive about oneself and in this vulnerable state there is really self-interest and therefore the capability of being hurt, of becoming neurotic. It is a form of resistance which is essentially concentrated on the self. The strength of vulnerability is not self-centred. It is like the young spring leaf that can withstand strong winds and flourish. This vulnerability is incapable of being hurt, whatever the circumstances. Vul- nerability is without centre as the self. It has an extraordinary strength, vitality and beauty.

As a human being, in myself and as a teacher, I see all this as clearly as possible, but as a teacher I am not all this. I am studying this, learning. As a teacher I am in relationship with my students and in that relation I am learning. In what manner am I to convey all this to my students who are conditioned, thoughtless, full of play, mischievous as normal children are? I teach subjects and am wondering if I can convey all this through mathematics, biology, physics. Or are they apart, something to be memorized? I see the other as not the cultivation of memory, so I have this problem: on the one hand the cultivation of memory in history and so on to pass examinations and ultimately for an occupation, and on the other I have a glimmer that intelligence is not mechanical, is not the cultivation of memory. This is my problem. I am asking myself if these two are separate? Or if intelligence, if it is awakened from the very beginning of one's life, can include memory and not be a slave to it? The greater includes the lesser. The universe contains the particular. But the particular cannot remain in its own narrow sphere.

I am beginning to comprehend this important factor for I am a dedicated teacher who is using teaching as a steppingstone to something else. So I am wondering what to do with these children in front of me. They are not interested in all this. They are ready to bully each other, to compete with each other, are envious and so on. Now you who are the outsider, do you understand my problem? You have to because you are also a teacher in your own way at home, in the playing fields or in business. We are all teachers in some way or other, so don't just leave me with my problem. It is your problem too, so let us talk about it.

We both see, I hope, that we are in this predicament: that the primary and greatest importance is to bring about this intelligence in all children and in the students for whom we are responsible. Don't leave me alone to solve this problem, so let us talk about it. First of all I want you and me to understand the problem. Leave the children and the student alone for the moment. Do we see that the student must eventually have an occupation and so he must understand the world, the necessities of the world, its implicit disorder and its increasing destruction and decline? He has to face this world not as a specialized entity, which makes him incapable of meeting the world. All this implies the acquisition of knowledge and the careful discipline of knowledge. As long as the world is what it is, he has to act in a certain direction and he is occupied most of the time with that, perhaps eight or ten hours a day. Also he has to study and learn about the whole psychological world which has not been explored by anyone. Those who have explored somewhat tell what they have discovered: this becomes knowledge and the student merely follows. This is not an accurate exploration into oneself. So you and I have this issue. You may be casually interested but I as a teacher am really concerned. I too am conditioned; I am not quite vulnerable in the definition which has been given here. I have my family problems etc, but my dedication supercedes them all. What am I to do or not to do? Does it demand no action but to create with other teachers the atmosphere of intent? The intent is not a goal to be achieved sometime later. The intent is the everpresent activity in which time is not involved at all.

Letters to The Schools 2

1982

Letters to The Schools Volume 2 1st December 1982

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