Sunday, March 8, 2009

Learning irrelevance

The name is more a measure of confidence than any grandiosity. The Krishnamurti Foundation of India (KFI) takes forward the belief of Jiddu Krishnamurti that schools must provide a environment to explore larger existential issues in an atmosphere of freedom and responsibility. The first school established by the KFI was in 1931 at Rishi Valley in Andhra Pradesh (close to where Krishnamurti was born); today the KFI runs seven schools, include 'The School' in Chennai. Apart from these, there are four other 'non-foundation' schools which, though not run by the KFI, follow the principles for children's education as laid down by Krishnamurti. Those principles have influenced other schools around the world also.

The School was begun in Krishnamurti's lifetime; the school's website says it is 25 years old, but other sources trace the school's founding date to be sometime in 1973. Set in Damodar Gardens, part of the Theosophical Society's lands, the school appears to be much older than either date would indicate. For the most part, the natural settings of Damodar Gardens have been preserved and maintained. Children in the junior and middle schools - classes 1 to 7 - are placed in mixed age groups and go through the curriculum prescribed by The School. It is only in class 8 that the formal CICSE curriculum is adopted, enabling the students to appear for the ICSE examinations in classes 10 and 12. It is a stated desire of The School to not encourage competition, because they do not recognize any merit in it. With such a seemingly contrarian point of view, The School is not for anyone who is unable to recognize that the holisitic development of an individual is the aim of education.

Indeed, it would take a lot to even admit that one must learn about the "...importance of knowledge and its irrelevance." from a school, let alone from The School!


Lowell said...

I wonder about any educational institution that places limits on the definition of education.

Evidently, this is not a religious institution, but a philosophical or "theosophical" one?

Shantaram said...

@ Jacob: Hmmmm... maybe the words I lifted do not provide the full philosophy - or, as you say, the 'theosophy'!

Raj said...

Till 1975, Damodar Gardens was home to the 'Besant Theosophical School" which was started by Dr Arundale in 1932. His wife Rukmini Arundale ran the school after his death. In 1975, the school had to leave the premises and shift to a place close to Kalakshetra, as the Theosophical Society wanted the land back. Later KFI leased the land and started "The School". I studied in the Besant Theosophical High School till 1974.

Shantaram said...

@ Raj: Thanks for the interesting background! My mother is also an alumna of the B.T.S, but I always thought of her as going to the school at its current location!