Interview on education - Track 4

Prof. Kireet Joshi: I was myself Chairman of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, and I made a big effort in involving philosophers in this task. Unfortunately however the response was quite disproportionate to the amount of labour that I put into and today again my program of Value-Education has been shelved in the Indian Council of Philosophical Research. Their simple answer is we don’t have the money today in our Indian Council of Philosophical Research to be engaged in the philosophy of Value-Education.

Interviewer: So eventually it boils down to this lack of idealism and aspiration for the better world and all these excuses are not real because you really need something, the money somehow finds its way. But the point is they don’t believe in it, so they don’t even make an effort towards it.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: It is actually you might say invasion of barbarism in our civilised world. It is this which is the central malady of our society, the central problem. And we must ask this question, what is the meaning of this barbarism? Barbarism is not necessarily tied up to primitive times, any human being who is interested only in how to sustain one’s life in the body and to be engaged exclusively on it – is barbarism.  It is the equation of barbarism in our civilised world. I say civilised world because of the history of the past, we have high elements of civilisation available, but available to whom now today, to increasing number of people whose main concern is the sustenance of physical life, embellishment of physical life and prosperity of physical life. It is this which is a state of crisis. You know Sri Aurobindo has spoken of evolutionary crisis today and this an idea on which I would like to dwell upon.

We have to deal with the whole problem, or the series of problems that we have discussed on a very large scale. We have to bring awareness among people that we are passing through a evolutionary crises and to explain what does it mean.  Now since we are talking at a very brief level, I would simply say, I would like to define crises as a state in which a proposition has got to be worked out and it is now found that it s hardly possible to work it out. When you arrive at that stage, it’s called a state of crises. Something has got to be done, on the other hand you can say it is hardly possible to do, that is the state of crisis. The crisis is that mankind today requires a spiritual dynamism; now the gulf between our concern for the physical life and concern for spiritual dynamism is so great that we have to rise first of all from physical life to life of creativity, of impulsive life being channelized for sublime purposes and then mental life, intellectual life and then the spiritual life. Now the gulf is so great that we require a tremendous effort to move from this where we are now stuck, to rise to that level and this is urgent, it is imperative. Because it is urgent and imperative and because we are still in a very low level, gulf is very great, you can say it is hardly possible for us to reply to it. Therefore we are in a crisis and we have to think about this problem, we are at a real critical point.

Interviewer: There are people at different levels of existence, so those who have understood this problem they have to expand their mind, those who are totally ignorant of this crisis need to be shown this crisis so that they may contribute and participate. So the only option is to break this circle of resistance that is there at present is to make best effort anybody can to permeate into this whole system and widen the horizons of those wide worlds.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: I agree entirely, actually I would say, you should have one special niche where the present evolutionary crisis is discussed in the country. You should bring people together and this should be the theme to be discussed. Realisation that there is a crisis and this crisis is a evolutionary crisis and the nature of this crisis then people will begin to ask how to break this crisis. And your questions at the beginning which you raised about child and looking after young people and all that, you will then see how much attention we need to give to education.

Interviewer: Absolutely because when you go to shops, you do find books flooded with books on mind and body, somebody talking of body and soul but when you actually see a mother attending to a child, you see that she loves him but she loves him like a mixed bag and she can’t figure out what all exists in him.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: And how to give the message.

Interviewer: Yes, so the point is that does society, parents and teachers look at a child as a independent person, who has a body, a life, a mind and a soul and all these different elements not only need to be recognised but each of these elements need to be nourished.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: When you have defined already both the problem and the solution, the problem is that of education, solution is to provide the right education and we can say education is the most important problem of our country.

Interviewer: But education before we teach the child, we have to educate the teachers, we have to educate the parents so that they can ..... so it has to be a comprehensive program

Prof. Kireet Joshi: You are right absolutely, that’s why it is multi pronged but among all of them, I had the privilege of discussing this question with the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and she asked me what is the key for the change of educational system? So I said: Teachers in our country. Unless our teachers realise the problem of this crisis, unless they study this problem in depth, unless they equip themselves to be vehicles of the solution of the crisis; because it is only through teachers that message is to be transmitted to young people. Teachers have to be good instructors, they have to be good examples, they are the carriers of highest influence. So if your children are to be brought up to higher levels which are needed today, main burden is with teachers. And most important problem is training of teachers and that is our weakest point in our country. And this is not realised by many people. What is our training program of teachers, ask somebody. How do you train your teachers in your country? And you receive pathetic answers. Our B.Ed courses are nine month courses of which three months are holidays, out of six months, plenty of holidays in any case, Sunday, Saturday, everything put together and then many festivals. Within a few months a graduate becomes B.Ed, and he is then asked to teach. Not many people even know that if you want to diagnose one of the worst maladies of our country is our neglect of training of teachers. So I would very much like that there has to be a very powerful movement to demand from the government to provide large scale programs of training. We have pre-service, in-service programs and if you see the dimensions of these programs they are so perfunctory, so poor, so lethargic. When one sees the present situation, one would cry out, why! Why! This is so? You have to diagnose properly. And I would very much like that people who are today of your age, you are the potential leaders of this country and you understand that the most important problem of this country is training of teachers.

Interviewer: So basically we need to understand that a teacher is not only somebody who knows the subject, because the subject is not only maths, English, the subject is the child.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Evolutionary crisis and the reference to the child, how the child can be educated in the condition in which we exist today in the whole world and that there is evolutionary crisis. It’s a complete different dimension which is not even conceived but that is a fact.

Interviewer: So there is nine month.....

Prof. Kireet Joshi: It’s is not the question of nine month period at all, it is the question of the long period of training that you should give to the people to become teachers and teachers of teachers and teachers of teachers of teachers. You can see the train of thought that one should apply and it is a very urgent task, it’s to be yesterday.

Interviewer: So we have at least reached one conclusion, somehow that the most fundamental and urgent task today in our country is first of all to shift the focus of the country towards the sovereignty of the child, the importance of the child and therefore to make sure that the teacher’s training program is fundamentally important, which would be at least a step in the direction in the change in the system of education.

Prof. Kireet Joshi: Excellent. Thank You.