Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A date with innocence and real education

This is one conversation that must be shared for the innocent and original views. Of the kind we all want to see in our children (aged between 8 and 12), but do not get it easily.
It was my conversation with over 120 children at Raj Niwas, Puducherry. The children had come from Samskriti School, a residential school run by Isha Foundation, Coimbatore. They came as part of their annual tour that included a visit to the Raj Niwas. This is when I got to meet them and had this rare conversation.
This was not a planned one. It sprang up instantaneously.
The children were all settled in the main Durbar Hall after having been served dinner. As soon as they finished and were seated, I got the message to join in. I knew the background of the school. I had visited it during my visit to Isha Foundation in Coimbatore when I went to do a course in Inner Engineering.
But, I had not had the kind of exclusivity and the length of time I was about to get now with them. As I walked into the prestigious Durbar Hall, used so far only for political or social dignitaries, I saw curiously expectant faces of our special child guests on Vijaydashmi. It could not have been more auspicious for Puducherry.
As I walked in, they expressed their innocent applause in abundance. It was pure and authentic excitement and touched me deeply. I felt blessed. The vibrations were very different. Instinctively, I felt the urge to know how were these children different (if at all) from the rest studying in other schools. Instead of asking their teachers, I decided to ask the children directly. For a while they were quietly surprised. There were a few innocent giggles and a shuffle...
But after an affectionate and persuasive prod, small hands started to crop up. They never looked back to seek their teachers’ approval.
My first and followup questions with their answers are as follows:
What differences do you feel when you go home to be with your parents, siblings and friends?
How do you think you are different from other schoolchildren?
The answers to several of questions were, recorded verbatim here...
“We are different. Because compared to us, our friends are always studying, not enjoying what they do”.
“They carry school bags, we take home no school work”.
“They have to find dance teachers and we always have them with us in school”.
“We are healthy, they are always visiting doctors.”
“They don’t get healthy food”.
“They don’t get to do Kalari (an ancient form of dance craft)”.
“Outside they say ‘namaskar’ only to God whereas we do it to all”.
“They don’t get a platform to perform instantly as we get it in Samskriti”.
“They don’t hit us, while they hit each other”.
“They take us for a trip every year”.
“They (our teachers) don’t want us to mug up. They teach us the what and whys of learning”.
“Here, we give respect everyone. We speak softly and kindly”.
“We get blessings from Sadhguru but others don’t”.
“It’s a great school that my parents found for me”.
“We have forests near our school while others don’t have them”.
“In the library, the fan changes the page and that disturbs me”.
“Here, we love nature but outside people don’t even look at it”.
“Here, we have no exams and therefore no scolding from parents”.
“We have tests but don’t have exams...” I asked... What is the difference between a test and exam?
A child said, “Test is easy, exam is difficult.” I asked... What is difficult and what is easy?
“Whatever we know is easy and whatever we don’t is difficult”.
What is it that you don’t know? I asked.
“Something that we did not read”.
What is that you did not read?
“Big books — the ones that are higher than our (intellect) level and have difficult words”.
I asked, what happens when any one of you makes a mistake?
“When we do something wrong, we get punished. We have to write sentences”.
How do I assess this purity? This truth? This simplicity? This authenticity? This value system?
I told them, each of you will grow up to cleanse the world in whatever is around are what humanity ought to be...
I am sure they did not get the depth of my conclusion. But, I said it because in the audience were seniors too, listening to them, who were as awestruck as I was by the spontaneity of their natural expressions.
This is what residential schools are for and more... this is real education what we are wanting to see, but perhaps wondering how do we do it, or our children and parents accept it?
Or were these children in Samskriti school born with the ‘samskaras’ to get it? Or were they creating them? We need to ask Sadhguru...