Dharma 20th August 1999 (Auroville) - Dharma 303

It is because examinations are not of this kind that we are confused about examinations and there is an unnecessary debate: “Should there be exams or no exams?”, or: “I do not believe in exams”. And somebody else says: “I believe in exams.” These are all useless talks. Main thing is exams are and will be – as Mother said very correctly: “Exams are and will be.” But exams must be real examinations and should not allow you pretence. And exams must come to you when you are ready. And examination must be according with the need of the student.

You fulfil all these conditions and you will find that examination will be absolutely useful under every circumstance. But it will not be a tyranny as it is now. Nobody will like to run away from exams, because it is not given when you are not ready for it. Nobody will say that it is a bugbear, not at all. You will like the teacher to ask you a question because he lifts you up. Because there is one thing which you must remember: every student feels happiness when he makes progress. That is one very important thing. You will never feel happy when you are not making progress.

Once Mother asked me: “Do you know how to judge your students?” I was myself nonplussed because how to judge my students? She knew that I would not be able to answer that question, she was very kind, she was examiner, but a very good examiner. So, she told me: “If you go to your class and you find that your students are happy, then, you judge that they have made progress”. This is a very simple formula given by the Mother to me. You know, when I see these smiling faces here, I feel very happy, because I feel that here is a group of children who are progressing and therefore their faces are filled with smiles. They are really happy. Such should be the condition all the time in our classes, in our examinations, where students don't feel that they are being examined not to find out whether they are up to the mark or not up to the mark. Passing, failing, all these are absolutely nonsensical things. But children should feel, that when they are being questioned there is a helping hand all the time, which does not want to judge but which wants to give happiness. And in the “lifting up” you feel such a tremendous upliftment, such a great joy, that you will like to have again and again the same kind of exercise; you will want to repeat it.

This was the great discovery of Montessori. You  have you heard the name of Montessori? She was a great educationist and she said that one of the secrets of education is “repetition”. Now, very often many educationists believe: don’t repeat, because people become bored by repetition – you repeat the same thing, people feel bored. Now Montessori said the opposite, she said: “No, repetition is the one thing children like to do when they have really learned.” You see a child – she has learnt a few sentences. And give a chance to the child and it will like to repeat with great joy, because, it’s not at all a trouble, it’s not boring at all. Because the child had learnt, therefore the child likes to repeat. Similarly if the child has learned and enjoyed upliftment in an exercise, every child wants to repeat it, and says: “Again, and again, and again, and again.” This is the real process of education. This is the real interaction between the child and the teacher – when the teacher is not a judge, is not judging whether you are good, bad. The teacher is your friend, he is himself you – he is so much one with you – and all the time he gives a hand to you and lifts you. Such an exercise gives such a tremendous joy that you want it again and again. So, actually a right system of examination should be that children should say: “Please give exam, please give exam, please give exam!” That is the right system where examination has found its proper place.

Only, now I come to the other question about certificates. Please don’t tie up this examination with certificate; that is ruining our whole examination system, because the whole purpose changes. Certification means what? Gaining work in life, gaining work in life for what, for earning, earning what? So that I can save, why save, so that I can meet a rainy day, so that I have no anxieties. And go on doing it until when, until I die. This is the programme. The whole programme of life is this, as it is given in ordinary existence and this is a horrible system of life. Why has Mother thought of Auroville? It is because she wants humanity to be saved from this horrible condition of life. In “The Dream” she has said: “There should be a site where children do not learn for passing examinations and for getting diplomas and degrees”. But then they learn for what, for development of their faculties. Why? Because it is development of faculties which gives you happiness, as I told you just now. When your faculties develop, then you progress, and when you progress, you feel happy. So education must be for real happiness. That is why I do not like children who want to have certificates – I am not very harsh, there are some children who want certificates and yet I will love them because I know some of the conditions. But normally I would like that children, if they are here, they should regard as a tremendous facility where they can really learn, without the botheration to have examinations of the ordinary kinds, without their being tied to certificates. Certificates tied to your post of life and post of life to your grave – ultimately. This is a whole system of life which goes to death. And which looks only to death, ultimately. This, Mother wants to break.

Therefore I’d like the children of Auroville to study for the sake of progress, to learn the secrets of existence to have mastery. Not that you cannot work, you should work of course! There is no true education which will not enable you to work and work very proficiently and masterfully. Sri Aurobindo has said that true education must have four elements in it: wisdom, heroism, art of harmony and art of skill. Now you tell me: Can any work be done in the world without these four elements? And if you have these four elements you can be sure that you will be able to do any work. If you have learnt the skill, if you know how to harmonise, if you are heroic, and if you have wisdom, tell me which is the work in the world – whether you have certificate or no certificate – which you will not be able to perform? Therefore I would like the children of Auroville to be free from fear. Here is a place where you can be free from fear; you can really spring into the future without ordinary kinds of fears and anxieties. It is education that takes you not to the grave but to life and to eternal life. As Mother said: “Constant education, constant progress and a youth that never ages”. And this is a great possibility which is opened up to us.

I think that there are many other questions from you which we are not answering now, because we shall have another chance to come and talk. All right? We stop here now? Granted? Yes? ... Not yet granted, but... Thank you very much. I feel very pleased. I am very happy to meet you. I am not flattering you – to meet you is to make my soul blush! I feel very, very happy and I thank you immensely. And give me this company of yours whenever I am here with you. Thank you.