Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture. (SAIIC) Shillong workshop, 26,Oct -7 Nov, 2006 - 27. Spiritual Psychology versus Behaviourist Psychology for Teacher Training

(Begins in Hindi.)

You cannot teach this in history, history class is a history class, a science class. If it was a class of stories, you can tell stories. It's all right, but she said: I had asked you to teach history. He was plucked, how to tell history to children of class one, if not through stories, then what is to be told? How do you teach history to the children of class one? It was a tremendous exercise for all of us actually. Mother's exactitude with regard to every subject was so great, so in 1960, when Pavitra da had got this experience, that true knowledge comes only in the state of silence, He felt that our entire system of education, where he was giving all his education by normal methods of lecturing and so on, and he was expert. He himself realised that now onwards, he will try to adopt this new method, to bring a child's consciousness to silence and nourish knowledge in a state of silence, now this will lead to a big revolution in our school. It was decided that in our school there will be no lectures. It is something which you cannot do, this kind of experiment anywhere in the world, only here for the first time, a school in which it was decided, now onwards there will be no teaching by lectures. Then how to teach? So a new method was adopted, created, you should teach through what is called worksheets. This was a big experiment. Whatever you want to speak to the children, don't give lectures, you write down and make small lessons and let the children read in a state of silence, because when you lecture the mind is agitated. Even now, when I’m lecturing from that point of view, it is not a correct method, but I’ll come to that later on. It is not the correct method, you should teach in such a way that you read something and the mind is made very quiet. In the quiet state of mind you allow the knowledge to be received in a quiet mind and for understanding the deep psychology, understanding, because all education is done by the faculty of understanding.

Now this understanding is a very peculiar thing in human psychology. When your mind is quiet, what happens to the faculty of understanding? If you examine your psychology, you'll find a very, very delicate matter. Normally, we understand, because people talk, we talk this, that, you explore here, explore that way, somehow pell-mell, we think we have understood, but really psychologically, scientifically, what is understanding?

There is a beautiful sentence of Sri Aurobindo. The first principle of teaching is that nothing can be taught. It's also a revolutionary statement. The first principle of teaching is that nothing can be taught. Now, if nothing can be taught, then where is the education at all? Mother was asked this question: if nothing can be taught, please explain what is the meaning of it? So Mother said: that all learning, all teaching can be effective only if you can touch understanding. Now, how can you touch the understanding? You may give hundreds of lectures, but if understanding does not grasp it, how will you teach? Now understanding faculty is best when there is a great quietude in the mind, if the mind is very quiet, very concentrated, you apply yourself exactly to the object of knowledge, in a great state of quietude and faculty automatically works on it. This is the true psychology of learning.

Now, what happens even when we say we have understood? Actually, what happens is that there is a lot of noise when you listen, when you talk; sometimes from moment to moment, from time to time, the mind falls silent. When I’m talking, for example, there will be some moments when you'll find, your mind falls silent. In that moment of silence, the understanding grasps what is being said, otherwise, other things are all noises, they don't register actually. Now this happens pell-mell unscientifically, but if you really want to apply the real method of education, then you have to create conditions in which the mind is greatly silent. Therefore, it was decided that now there will be no lectures in our school, let the mind be silent while the material is given to the children. It was a tremendous task. When this experiment started, the idea came to him when we had a vacation, in the school fortunately, so classes were not going on. But a decision was made that from 16th of December, when the school of the Ashram begins every year, there will be no lectures and the teachers will prepare worksheets.

Now what is a worksheet? Our teachers did not know. What is the meaning of a worksheet, so we had classes on worksheets that month and teachers were asked to write down the worksheets?

Now worksheet also, there was a scientific study of different kinds of worksheets. There can be informative worksheets. There are now what is called books of knowledge, programmed education. There is also a new method at present, in many schools; you'll find in some advanced schools what is called programmed education. You have a question and then there is an answer written on the other margin. First answer is not shown to you. A question is put, when you answer right or wrong then you find out whether afterwards the answer is revealed and when you master that answer, then the second question will come up. On television, a monitor or computer, you can do it quite easily. Only a question is flash first then you have to write down the answer. If the answer is wrong, it will not move, so think again and then answer, when you touch the right answer, then the second question will come, so there are many things of this kind that were also done in 1960, we made these experiments. You can imagine how forward our school was at that time to speak of this programmed education, the workbook of knowledge and so on and Pavitra da was himself a great inventor. So he discovered a new term for worksheets that we had to prepare, he called them ‒ heuristic worksheets.

Heuristic worksheet was a new term which he had invented and we had been trained at that time, we all underwent training. What are heuristic worksheets? Now what is a heuristic worksheet? A heuristic worksheet is a worksheet, in which the substance of what you want to talk to children is written down, but in a particular manner. Marco Polo visited India in such and such a year. Hiuan Tsang visited India in such and such a year, Columbus discovered America in 1492. Do you think there was a world map at the time of Hiuan Tsang? It’s a heuristic; you see two data are given, Columbus, discovered America in 1492. Therefore, the question of the world map arises only in 1492, because till then America was not discovered so how could there be a map? So now, if you ask the question, was there a world map in the time when Hiuan Tsang came to India? Now worksheet, which is heuristic, is of such a nature that you have to apply your mind? This is where silence is induced, you have to reflect. There are three sentences only, data is given there. Your answer is involved in it; the answer is already given there. You have to discover it. This is a question of eureka. You know Archimedes, it was an experience of eureka. Oh, I have discovered he went out of his bathroom, I have found, I have discovered. Similarly, children should have eureka, you should have data put together and the question is put and the answer is there actually but you find it out, it is there. Unless you are silent in your mind, you cannot find the answer. You have to be reflective; you have to be very quiet, the real understanding is incited.

Now imagine our teachers, we are all raw people, all our methods, all our knowledge had to be put forward in the form of worksheets in a heuristic manner. I don't think anywhere in the world, in any school, such an experiment would be allowed even, but that is what was done, it's a fact. Between November 15 to December 16, I was in charge of the administration also at that time so I had to explain to teachers what a heuristic worksheet is, help many teachers to write such heuristic worksheets and to get them typed out because there are no books available. So if you had to prepare worksheets on the very first day, there should be some materials available to children if no lectures will be given, I got 760 worksheets prepared within one month's time. This can happen only if teachers are given only to work on education, nothing else, no other work at all, but our teachers did it, it's a fact. I got 760 worksheets prepared, so that the first week's material is available and then every week the whole week's work was like that for the whole year. It was like a big laboratory. A tremendous amount of work and experiment was required to prepare how many worksheets. I myself prepared world history in 30 worksheets for class five, world history in 30 worksheets, small worksheets, but I covered the whole history of the world in such a way that a child gets a telescopic view of world history. So I had to read myself, so much of world history at that time and prepare such heuristic worksheets, such a big work. I’m only giving one example of the kind of experiments which were done under the guidance of the Mother; it was such a tremendous explosion.

Now mind you at that time in our school, we had many teachers who were completely opposed to this proposal of our director. See our school is a school of complete freedom, students are free, teachers are free; and yet experiment has to be done because without freedom you cannot have true development and there was such a tremendous opposition from some section of teachers, who felt this was barbaric, primitive. When you can explain something in a good lecture, you have to write it down in this fashion, so artificial. Mind you both arguments are solid. I can explain something to the children so easily by talking, then, why to do this artificial work of this worksheet and heuristic worksheets and so on and such a big labour. First of all, whenever there's labour there is a resistance. There’s a psychological thing. You do not like to do labour, so you resist it, and say it is wrong this should not be done. So all of us, including myself, who were great advocates of the lecture system there was a tremendous opposition to this idea and Mother allowed this conflict. It’s not as if she said no, no, this is the only thing to be done, no, not at all. Mother said: you develop, those who want to do it, you can do this. Those who don't want to do it can do it another way, but she said that I support this one, because there is something to be done, because there was a big opposition.

Once Nirod da whom you know very well, he was one of the opponents of this whole idea and he wrote to the Mother. Mother this is a system which is being imposed here because of Pavitra's ideas, but we do not accept it and in any case, if you want to do as an experiment, give us one year's time and then we shall work on it and why to hurry up like this. So Mother's answer to him was: look, what they are doing is not ideal, but what you are proposing is less ideal. It’s a wonderful answer. You can immediately see the super educationist evaluating both the propositions. She said what they are doing is not ideal, but what you are proposing is less ideal, but she didn't say; therefore, that you should do this or that, it is up to you. Opposition continued, but in my personal development this was a real revolution. There was something which was not ideal; Mother said it is not ideal. Therefore, there was something still, it was not the ideal system of education, but we have to pass through it to arrive at the ideal system. Therefore, why Mother was supporting it is because the lecture system, as it is now, is less ideal, this also is not ideal; therefore, you have to pass through this to find out what is the ideal. It required three years of experiment to arrive at what I call an ideal system ultimately. And Mother said: I don't have formulas to give you. This is a matter of developing. The real thing has to evolve by experimentation. This is what I call an invention.

What is the real system of education? Ideal system of education is a matter of evolution. You have to work it out. It can't be fabricated. Mother cannot say that look this is the method. As Mother once said to a parent, when his daughter was falling in love with a boy in the school, that girl's father went to the Mother and said what can I do, my daughter is now falling in love. So Mother said there are no solutions to this problem. When you keep a child in your arms, the child has to be kept steady, but the child will kick. How does a mother keep balance, allow kicking and yet give cushion? This is the method by which you can deal with the problem, so it can't be taught. If you handle it properly the mother also cannot be taught that look you keep the child in this way, when the mother really wants a child not to fall down and the child is kicking, how do you do it? What a beautiful example Mother gave, how do you deal with a child when it is kicking, and yet you want to keep in balance so the child doesn't fall out. So similarly, you cannot say that now a child should not kick, or girl should not fall in love, and yet you have to deal with it properly so there's no disbalancement. Tomorrow I’ll take up this again because we have some other work to do, so today I’ll just close it here, but I will tell you how we moved from this point to further development of the system of a new invention of the system of education.

(Speaks in Hindi.)

... बहुत महान भागिरथ कार्य किया है। श्री माँ ने जो काम किया है, वह सारे इतिहास में ऐसा भागिरथ कार्य नहीं हुआ है—education में—वो कार्य उन्होंने कर दिया है, परिपूर्ण किया है। इसलिए अभी क्या करना चाहिए अब तो मैं आपको बता रहा हूँ, कि किस तरह से युद्ध हो रहा था हमारे स्कूल में। बड़ा युद्ध था ये। एक तरफ ये, एक तरफ ये, और वहाँ से निकलना और नई प्रकार की एक प्रणाली निकालना, ये बड़ा युद्ध था। तो अभी हमारे पास, इतने अनुभव से सिद्ध हुआ, एक नया ढाँचा, उसका, जो मैंने कहा ना, आविष्कार हुआ है, invention हुआ है, वो अभी दे सकते हैं हम, सारे राष्ट्र को, अभी वो २० साल नहीं चाहिए, अभी उसका कार्यांवयन करने के लिए एक political will चाहिये। इसलिए मैंने ३० साल जो निकाले, वो political will को तैयार करने के लिये। वहाँ से जब, पॉन्डिचेरी से जब दिल्ली में गया, तो मेरा जो युद्ध हुआ था, वो वही युद्ध है, कि political will, जब तक वो नहीं होगी, तब तक ये काम आगे बढ़ ही नहीं सकता है। आप एक स्कूल कर सकते हैं, दो स्कूल कर सकते हैं, लेकिन भारत की जो बात है, आप जो कर रहे हैं—जब तक political will नहीं होगी, तो वो तो बहुत भागीरथ कार्य है, वो कैसे? जब श्री माँ थीं तब तो दूसरी बात थी, श्री माँ ने कहा था कि अगर मेरा देह, अगर मुझे छोड़ना पड़ेगा, तो मेरे बच्चों के लिए बहुत पीड़ादायक इतिहास रहेगा उनका, तो हम सभी के लिए ये पीड़ादायक इतिहास है, ये कार्य करने में कितनी बाधाएँ आईं। इसका इतिहास एक अलग बात है, उसकी बात नहीं करूँगा क्योंकि वो तो दूसरी बात है, लेकिन ये condition, ये जो, उसकी जो शर्त है... मैंने १९८१ में, जब इंदिरा जी ने मुझसे कहा, कि आप एक scheme बताइये, कि क्या करना चाहिये, तो मेरी scheme क्या थी? कि teachers की जो appointment हो रही है, उस प्रथा को अब बदलो। किस तरह से शिक्षकों की नियुक्ति होनी चाहिये? कि जो विद्यार्थी बारवीं कक्षा तक पहुँच जाता है, वहाँ उसे निश्चय करना चाहिये कि मुझे शिक्षक बनना है कि नहीं। तभी उसको ५ साल की ट्रेनिंग मिलेगी, ५ साल की। psychological तो उसका base है ना... spiritual psychology, not ordinary psychology , not behavioristic psychology, spiritual psychology... ५ साल का उसका integral development होना चाहिये, शिक्षक का। उनको भी physical education देना चाहिये, उसको भी vital education देना चाहिये, mental education देना चाहिये, spiritual education देना चाहिये... तो ५ साल तो लगेगा, कम से कम। तो मैंने ५ साल का programme भी बनाया था। और सारा जो programme था, वो मैंने इंदिरा जी को दिया था। और उन्होंने, समय निकाल के, मेरा जो report था, उसे अक्षरशः उन्होंने पढ़ा। ऐसा नहीं था कि उनकी तरफ से कोई तकलीफ थी। और यह भी कहा कि उसका कार्यांवयन करो। लेकिन कहाँ, मुश्किल कहाँ आई? जैसी ही वह NCERT में गया, finished! क्यों ऐसा हुआ? क्योंकि हमारे जो Education Minister थे, उनकी जो दृष्टि थी, और Prime Minister की जो दृष्टि थी, उसमें इतना बड़ा भेद था। Prime Minister जिसको प्राथमिकता देना चाहती थीं, Education Minister की दृष्टि में उसकी प्रथमिकता नहीं थी। उनके लिये तो कार्यालय चलाना था, आज Parliament में सवाल है तो उसका जवाब देना है।