At Shibumi, we are making a radical shift in curriculum. The curriculum is still evolving and we meet frequently to think details out and talk things over. We’d like to share our thoughts with you as they are fleshed out. Do keep an eye on this blog to follow the growth of the curriculum.
We start with a letter from Krishnamurti to the schools.
A school, after all, is a place where the student is basically happy, not bullied, not frightened by examinations, not compelled to act according to a pattern, a system. It is a place where the art of learning is being taught. If the student is not happy he is incapable of learning this art.
Memorizing, recording information, is considered learning. This brings about a mind that is limited and therefore heavily conditioned. The art of learning is to give the right place to information, to act skilfully according to what is learned, but at the same time not to be psychologically bound by the limitations of knowledge and the images or symbols that thought creates. Art implies putting everything in its right place, not according to some ideal. The understanding of the mechanism of ideals and conclusions is to learn the art of observation. A concept put together by thought, either in the future or according to the past, is an ideal – an idea projected or a remembrance. It is a shadow-play, making an abstraction of the actual. This abstraction is an avoidance of what is happening now. This escape from the fact is unhappiness.
Now can we as teachers help the student to be happy in the real sense? Can we help him to be concerned with what is actually going on? This is attention. The student watching a leaf fluttering in the sun is being attentive. To force him back to the book at that moment is to discourage attention; whereas to help him to watch that leaf fully makes him aware of the depth of attention in which there is no distraction. In the same way, because he has just seen what attention implies, he will be able to turn to the book or whatever is being taught. In this attention there is no compulsion, no conformity. It is the freedom in which there is total observation. Can the teacher himself have this quality of attention? Then only can he help another.
For the most part we struggle against distractions. There are no distractions. Suppose you daydream or your mind is wandering; that is what is actually taking place. Observe that. That observation is attention. So there is no distraction.
Can this be taught to the students, can this art be learned? You are totally responsible for the student; you must create this atmosphere of learning, a seriousness in which there is a sense of freedom and happiness.
J. Krishnamurti, Letters to Schools Volume One, 1st February, 1979