Editorial: J. Krishnamurti, F.G. Pearce and the Blue Mountain School
(Reflections on the 125th Birth Anniversary of the Founder)
Learn Prajana, Live Karuna -Buddha
The ‘educational experiment’ based on J. Krishnamurti’s ideal of freedom, that F.G. Pearce experimented in the Rishi Valley School (1950-1958) did not come to its deserved fruition in the Rishi Valley School. Not able to achieve a balance between reasoned order and freedom and education, Pearce resigned as Principal of the Rishi Valley School in 1958. However the unique experiment in education did not fade into oblivion but continued at the Blue Mountains School, Ootacamund. F.G. Pearce, with the unqualified support of his friends and family started the School on 8th February 1961, with the motto, “ Dare to be Free “ . And it was in the Blue Mountains School that the experiment , Freedom in Education , fully blossomed.
This year being the Founder’s 125th Birth Anniversary (1892-2017), it would be appropriate to reflect on some of the lofty ideals and principles that went into the formation of the Blue Mountain School, and still continue, as the core guiding principles, both philosophical and pedagogical.
Gordon Pearce was very clear in his vision and objective, about what he wanted in the field of education. When the Blue Mountains School was in the process of taking shape, he recorded his thoughts:
“A centre for experimenting with Krishnaji’s (J. Krishnamurti’s ) teachings on education, I feel, that is the most important thing in life, (and this), I want to help to create and carry on in relationship with others.”
It was clear: Krishnamurti’s teachings on education was to be the core content of the educational experiment. And what was the core content of the educational philosophy of J. Krishnamurti as perceived by Pearce?
“A Wise man has said, ‘To be is to be related.’ Human beings cannot exist in isolation: our life is relationship to other human beings and to the rest of our environment. A school in which the pupils are not helped to learn in right relationship is not worth calling a school……That is why some of us who feel deeply about the matter, and who have had personal experience of the evils of mass-education in academic factories, have felt impelled to get out of the rut in which we had fallen and somehow in spite of almost insuperable difficulties, to make a better start on a small scale. Right relationship is the central feature of education and book-learning subsidiary to it.”
-F. G. Pearce
Right relationship, in it’s totality, based on self enquiry was the central feature of education according to Krishnamurti. How to make it happen, this “right relationship” in education? What were the operational details, pedagogical guidelines to make this happen?
Krishnamurti would have none of them. He was not interested in building educational models that would facilitate the students and teachers in understanding of his teachings. It was left to Gordon Pearce and his team of teachers that included Sardar Mohemmed, David Horsburgh and J.P. Gunawardhane to design pedagogical principles, curricula, classroom structure and living environment. However he cautioned that an educational system that includes comparison and competition into its structure would inevitably cast individuals into degraded social moulds. Krishnamurti insisted that his one task was to awaken in his students and teachers alike, an “inward freedom,” capable of finding a way to “authentic personhood,” against the current exerted by society.
However, Krishnamurti’s first published work, ‘Education and Significance of Life’, published in 1953 was on education. (‘The First and Last Freedom,’ Krishnamurti’s formal book on his philosophy was published a year later in 1954). This small but seminal work on his educational philosophy was a blueprint for Gordon Pearce and his colleagues to carry out his experiment in education based on J.K’s teachings in the Rishi Valley School and later in the Blue Mountains School.
To live is to be related. Right learning should lead to right relationship. Right learning is free from comparison and competition. And that kind of learning could only happen in freedom- learning in freedom. It is all about living and learning.
Living and learning are inseparable. Together they form the educational philosophy of the Blue Mountains School.
The two postulates of education, according to Krishnamurti are the “scientific mind and religious spirit.” Their elaboration will inevitably lead to learning and living in relationship. J. Krishnamurti’s educational philosophy and Gordon Pearce’s pedagogical formulation thereof are the basis for the ‘Educational Vision,’ Philosophy and Motto of the Blue Mountains School.
1. Educational Vision: Life has a “deeper, higher and wider significance and it is the concern of education to come up on it.”
2. Educational Philosophy: Living and Learning, without Comparison and Competition, in an environment of total inner freedom.
3. Education Motto: “Dare to be Free.”
J. Krishnamurti’s spiritual philosophy on education with the help of the unique pedagogical formulations of Gordon Pearce was transformed into secular practice , resulting in the Blue Mountains School in 1961. And the journey of the School continues on the 125th Birth Anniversary of the Founder and beyond, as before with gentleness and clarity.
B. J. Krishnan
(The writer is Director, The Blue Mountains School)