I don't know what Mother Wants for education in Auroville. I call only explore with everybody here – on the grounds of whatever we know, what Mother has said about education in general, education in the Ashram where I was associated for many-many years, and from what l have studied from the writings of Sri Aurobindo on education, and in the ‘Synthesis of Yoga’ particularly to my mind the ‘Synthesis of Yoga’, that great book, is a book on education It deals with the possibilities of human personality, the methods of development of personality, and the highest heights to which we can reach. And the entire work is an educational work as to how the teacher and how the pupil, how the sadhak has to develop.
We all know that Mother has put down in Auroville one basic program, and that is our research. She has laid down the method of the research by experience, experimentation. And the aim of that research is named the Divine Life. But no religions – This statement to my mind is the most important statement for education in Auroville.
We know also that in the Charter of Auroville Mother has spoken of unending education and of youth that never ages. These two statements, these two phrases, again are revolutionary – Unending education and youth that never ages.
In the Charter again Mother has spoken of assimilating; the past realisations and springing towards the future realisations. And again she has spoken of the Program for unity of mankind.
Mother very much wanted education to develop in Auroville. When children of Auroville in 1971 wanted to join the Ashram school in Pondicherry, and when the parents had given me the applications forms for these children and I had taken these applications to the Mother for admission, as soon as I told her that these applications were from Auroville Mother said, "But you must develop education in Auroville." Thereafter many experiments in education were conducted in Auroville. One of the teachers of the Ashram was asked to be here as a permanent teacher in Auroville, a few small buildings were also constructed for experimentation in education, and gradually a number of teachers have sprung up in Auroville, and they are doing educational work on many levels, for many purposes, all of them trying to understand what Mother has said, and trying to implement it in their own way.
In 1984-85 a more organised form came into existence under the title of ‘Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Educational Research’, and some research work also was done, which was meant not only for Auroville, but for the whole country and the world. Two volumes were published at that time, The Aim of Life and The Good Teacher and the Good Pupil. And both these works have been extremely appreciated, not only by the government of India, but also by a number of teachers and adults who have studied these books. Some other books also are already being planned in the same series.
In the meantime some students who have been studying here have already reached a level of higher education. The Problem of higher education has not yet received any central attention. I also feel that children are not in the centre of Auroville. This is my personal perception. I may be wrong and I would like to be corrected on this issue, because I really feel that there is not such a great interaction between the people of Auroville in general and children. I think the child needs to be put in the centre of Auroville, and this is the theme of which l have been speaking again and again.
What does it mean to put the Child in the centre of Auroville? In fact Mother herself has said that as soon as children come in your field they should be in the centre. And she has explained that all activities of an organisation or society should be so organised that children receive educational nourishment from these activities. I don't think this is happening in Auroville, and therefore I have always felt the need to meet with the people here and to request that we all come together and see how we should organise Auroville, So that children receive central attention, and so that the activities of Auroville contribute to the educational nourishment of the children. That will also mean that Auroville adults receive continuous education, and that we all in some way or the other find time for education. If Auroville is a site of unending education, it applies to everyone. So in that sense all of us are children of Auroville and we are all here for education.
In the meantime I am also aware that a lot of research work is being done, not only academically, but in many respects. There are scientists, agriculturists, engineers, architects, sociologists, and many other capacities which are manifested in Auroville, which is extremely gratifying. In fact, whenever I look upon people who have been working in Auroville, I feel deeply grateful to them. It is a very precious crop, and whatever they have brought into the picture of Auroville is to be underlined, to be appreciated, to be continued. But I feel that the research work in all these fields does not reach the children, except in some jets from time to time. I feel there is a need for creating some kind of a framework. I don't like the word "framework", because it always gives me the impression of straightjacket, but whatever you might say there should be a flexible process by which the research work being done in Auroville is received by the children, so that it filters down, so that the children are stimulated and learn a great deal, not only by our information, but even by participation. There is not much apprenticeship, for example, here in Auroville. With all the facilities that you have, there can be a good deal of' apprenticeship on the part of the students. Students can learn many things by doing, because a lot of doing is happening here, but learning by doing does not happen to the same degree or to the same extent. So many skills are being developed in Auroville, but the same skills are not being developed among the children. In some quarters, I am sorry to say, there is a feeling that Auroville education does not provide what children need. It is a feeling which I have been hearing about.
There are also many other complaints about educational work being done here. There is a complaint that there is not enough formal education in Auroville, that there is a need for formal education – meaning thereby that there should be regular classes, lectures, syllabi, examinations, tests of various kinds, some kind of certification, some career development to be presented to the children, so that they can develop into some careers. One or two attempts are also being made to prepare the children to apply for outside examinations, under the plea that children have not come here for Auroville by choice. They are here, and ultimately it is for them to decide whether they would live here or elsewhere, and if they want to go outside they need some kind of formal education and formal certification, and therefore it is our responsibility to develop them. There is also a feeling that whether you need certification or not it is always something very good for children to go out for some education and then come back here, and that this kind of going out and coming back here is a very healthy experience and should be encouraged. On this issue there is a lot of thinking, a lot of debate, and sometimes one feels like talking to parents, because I am told that parents are taking a certain attitude towards education which is affecting a good deal of work in Auroville.
Now we don't have time to discuss all these issues at one stroke, but I think that if we have one or two meetings on this issue it will be very useful. First of all, I would like to learn from parents and from others what they think is needed in Auroville and why, and how we can go about it. My present feeling is that for any research centre in the world – and there have been many research centres, even some experiments which have had similar ideals to what we have here – this is a problem which has not been resolved. There are three problems with such research centres. One is providing the facilities to researchers, full facilities to researchers, their families and their children. Secondly, the relationship between the research centre and the surrounding areas. In Shantiniketan for example, which is a similar institution envisaged along similar lines, we have similar problems – Shantiniketan itself and the surrounding villages, and the interaction between the two. The third problem is recognition of the research centre, of its activities, of its results at a national or international level. Sometimes the moment the recognition comes up the very attitude of the research centre changes, and the activities themselves are modulated to meet the demands of recognition or continuous recognition.
We have to learn from all these experiments, and I think that that information or that knowledge should be shared by all people in Auroville. This has also an effect upon the entry process of Auroville, because people enter Auroville with some expectations, and these expectations will have effects upon the ways in which Auroville will be developed. Expectations demand meeting the expectations, and when they are not met in the way expected there are frustrations, and unnecessary quarrels. We are not yet able to tell the new entrances what exactly we are trying to do here, and different people have different perspectives with which they come here, and sometimes they collide. All this is not unexpected, it is not shocking, it is understandable. But we have to be aware that these problems exist, and from time to time it is good to meet all of us together, and to reflect upon them, so that we can have new directions opening up before ourselves.
My immediate problem is that of higher education. Our children want to know the totality of our educational program. By the age of 11 or 12 they begin to ask these questions as to how they will grow up, and what they should expect from the educational program available here. What is their future? What is their role in the world? What work will they do in life? And will the education being provided to them equip them for the work that they will do in the world?
Now it is in that context that we need to think of providing facilities for higher education. We have to conceive of higher education here in Auroville, in fact I think we have come to a point where higher education has to be envisaged, has to be conceived. We have from the Mother four important phrases in regard to the educational program. The first was LAST SCHOOL, − the first phrase which is very important: LAST SCHOOL. The Second phrase is AFTER SCHOOL, number one, two, three. The third phrase is SUPER SCHOOL, and the fourth is NO SCHOOL. These are extremely enigmatic and very important guidelines for all of us. I don't think anybody put the question to the Mother as to what She meant by these phrases. In any case l am not aware of any answers which have been obtained from the Mother on these questions as to what is the meaning of Last School, what is the meaning of After School, what is the meaning of Super School, what is the meaning of No School. It is for us, now, to do the research ourselves, and try to understand them; and with the way in which Mother has spoken of education as a whole in various contexts, what she has said of education in the Charter of Auroville, we can try to understand what she could have meant by these four phrases.
In any case one thing is very clear: that Mother wanted a new kind of education. In fact Mother has said in one of her messages, "We are not here to do what others do, or even better than what others do. We are here to do something which others have not even conceived of." What is not conceived of elsewhere and therefore if we are here in Auroville, the energies of people of Auroville should be centrally directed towards the creation of that which is not even conceived of outside.
Now it is very important to tell everybody in Auroville where we are going to spend our energies. If l am going to be a teacher in Auroville, and if 1 am asked to teach the curriculum made by NCERT in India, or CBSE in India, or the Indian School Certification, or A level or O level or whatever – many examinations in the world are now available to people – and therefore to prepare the children for the syllabi which have already been conceived, then I don't have to come here at all. If I have to prepare, if I have to use my energies for that education, as a teacher I Would simply say... If I am asked to teach here and if I am told, "Now you prepare this child to appear at A level or O level." then why should I come here at all? I can as well be a teacher in any school in India or in the world and spend my energies on that, which will be very good, very fruitfully utilised. And why not? What is wrong with it?
There is nothing wrong with it, But if I have come to Auroville and if the Auroville program, if Auroville itself is conceived to conceive of that which is not considered elsewhere at all, then my energies should be spent on that task. This is how I understand it.
So I would like to make an effort with everyone here to try to conceive of that education, which is not conceived of elsewhere. And surely Mother did not mean a kind of education that would be useless. Because some people might think that if you develop a new kind of education, in contrast to the educational programs which are conceived on the A level or O level or CBSE or NCERT level, that they are useful and that this is useless. There is a reasoning which is being put forward by some, that children will not be useful, they will not be able to do useful work. I don't think that Mother’s idea was that we conceive of an education which will make our children useless. On the contrary, l think that Auroville is a research centre and in following a research program, surely the students or children who are educated should at the minimum level be capable of following that research program, at the minimum level. The program of Auroville is to create a new society, a new type of human being, and this is a very big program. And unless Auroville, which has been created for that purpose, is nourished for that program, it will have no meaning. What are we doing here, if this is not our work, our central work?
I had some kind of a discussion with some parents who are very much worried about their children's future, and I can sympathise with every one of them, because it is true, it is always a matter of anxiety. You want your children to stand on their own; you want your children to have security in life, prosperity in life, fulfilment in life. And sometimes the parents feel that these aims cannot be fulfilled if children are educated only in the new way which we are conceiving or developing here. I think that these fears and anxieties of parents have to be met, and met not only in words, but in actuality. It is a very big work. Merely saying, "Don't worry" is not a satisfactory answer. We have to deal with parents, speak to them, understand their anxieties, identify ourselves with their anxieties, and propose to them that their anxieties will be met properly, satisfactorily that we want ourselves the highest welfare of the children.
But the minimum condition of fulfilling this is that the child should be the centre of Auroville.
Therefore, I would first of all make an appeal to everybody – parents, scholars, scientists, engineers − please devote some time of yours to the needs of the children in Auroville. I don't know the programs, I know many people of these categories of scholars, scientists and engineers, I know their hands are full. They are engaged in such activities, in such important activities, that they may not find time. So my appeal to everyone is: Please, organise your life in such a way that you can contribute to the children’s development. If Auroville is "a field of unending education", then we are all students, and we are engaged in educational activities all the time, or should be engaged in such activities.
This may mean some kind of a change in the whole atmosphere of Auroville. Every working place should also be an educational place, where apprenticeship is nourished. Every worker is to be a teacher in some way or the other. Once somebody who was very active, a leader of one of the activities of the Ashram, said to Mother, "Mother, my work is management." And Mother said, "A good manager has to be a good teacher." So even those executives who are working for so-called management, their lifestyles, their activities have to be oriented so that they become teachers, and look upon themselves as teachers.
In fact, such conclusions have been arrived at even by the people who don't conceive of Auroville, but who try to conceive of the future development of humanity. In 1972 UNESCO published a very important book under the title Learning to Be. It is a very-very important book, and it has made twenty-one important recommendations to the whole world. Some of us had the opportunity to read these twenty-one recommendations to the Mother. And I was very happy when with every statement which was read out to the Mother, Mother said "Excellent... excellent... excellent". This is meant for the world as it is, the outside world, and one of the most important recommendations of this book is that the whole world should prepare itself for developing a learning society. The whole concept of a learning society has been put forward with great force. There are, you know, many concepts of society. One of the concepts is what is called “consumerist society", a society of people where the consumption of goods, and enjoyment of goods, is the criteria of the fulfilment for the society. If you can provide to the people a facility of consumption that is to their satisfaction and therefore production, distribution, economic measures − if you do all this, you are doing wonderful work for society. UNESCO had perceived that this kind of society is unsustainable, and they put forward this alternative, that the whole world should prepare itself for a learning society. Not consumption, but learning. All people on the earth are here for learning, and a society will be judged by whether it can provide the highest levels of learning and continuous levels of learning, and fulfil every human being through the process of learning.
In fact it is not sufficiently realised among people that the greatest happiness comes when our faculties are developed. It is not sufficiently realised. We think that when consumption is done we feel satisfied, but that is not true, that is only the primary need of man. Food, clothing, shelter are only primary needs. Sri Aurobindo makes a distinction between the primary need and the chief need. These are the primary needs, but what is the chief need of man? And Sri Aurobindo says: development of faculties, exercise of the faculties, and effective utilisation of these faculties. That gives great happiness to the people, real happiness. If I have the faculty of singing and I am not given the facilities of singing, then even if I am given all kinds of books to read, all facilities needed to live, I will be miserable, because my faculty of singing is not allowed any kind of room. All human beings basically pursue this basic need − namely, to develop the faculties. To the extent to which these faculties are developed, you become happy. In fact, once Mother was asked how to judge whether children are progressing or not. So Mother said, "Simply ask them if they are happy.” The children will be unhappy if they are not progressing. All unhappy children, it's not merely because they don't have something to eat, even if you provide them all the facilities, still they will find a way to be unhappy because they are not able to develop their faculties. So I would suggest that in Auroville our attention should be the development of faculties. And we have to see whether the children's faculties are developed or not. And we have to see what are the potential faculties of children, to observe the faculties of children and to help the development, the flowering of these faculties, and how they can flower.
In this respect Mother once said to me, "The task of the teacher is not to teach, but to observe." It was a revolution in my mind when I heard this for the first time from Mother. The task of the teacher is not to teach but to observe. This is what I mean by putting the child in the centre. We do not really observe, we don't have the time to observe, there are no facilities for observing. The educational situations which are now obtained in ordinary schools do not permit the observation of children. With the syllabus all is prescribed – the task of the teacher is to finish the syllabus in a given time frame and to prepare the child to pass examinations. So where is the child's faculty, how is the child to be developed, what is the time available with the teachers to do this kind of work? And that is why we are not able to develop the manpower that is required to face the problems of the world today; the great crisis that we find in civilizations is because of this reason: we are developing human beings who are not fit to develop the capacities which are needed for the present stage of civilization.
We need in the present stage of civilization three important things: one is team spirit or cooperation, the second is globality, and the third is to transcend all limitations of our consciousness. We are limited in our intellect, we need to develop intuition. It is a faculty by itself, the intuitive faculty. We don't even know what intuition is. We use the world intuition, but we have no scientific study of intuition. It is a subject which is remote from normal considerations, and yet it is what we need if we want to face the problems of today. Intuitive powers are very necessary and must be shared largely by people. We are not able to solve our problems because we follow an intellectual process of understanding in solving them. The intellectual process is very slow. In fact, one of the definitions of intellect is: a process of understanding the totality at a very slow speed. Universality is certainly the fundamental urge of intellect – all intellectual development is nothing but universality, it is in the context of universality that the intellect moves – but the problem with the intellect is that it moves towards universality step by step, little by little, little by little, little by little. As a result the process is very slow. On the other hand the world today requires very quick answers. If you can fly from Europe to America within three and half hours by supersonic, you can see the speed with which the decisions are to be taken, to be decided upon. It is only one example to show how the present world requires very quick decisions. And unless we have a program of developing intuitive faculties we will not be able to provide to the world the manpower that is needed. When Mother said that we are here to do an education that others don't even conceive of, this is one of the items I put in it. The outside world does not conceive of developing the Intuitive faculties of children. Nobody has thought of it, in fact. How to develop the intuitive faculties of children?
How to develop team spirit? There should be a science of it, a science of team spirit. There are educational methods by which the team spirit can be developed. A situation could arise where children of tomorrow, when they see people quarrelling they will wonder, "Why are these people quarrelling?" It should be a surprise to them. Just as we today feel surprised when animals are quarrelling with themselves, similarly the children of tomorrow would wonder why so many quarrels, "Why don't they just sit down together? Why don't they keep quiet, since with the quietude of the mind the knowledge will emerge and the answers will be available?" This is the capacity that has to be developed.
We know for example that today's world requires a tremendous amount of health, and an all-around health: physical health, mental health, family health, longevity, the conquest of diseases. All mankind today is seized in a sense by this problem. Now, which society has conceived therefore of a youth that never ages? If you want our education to develop, it must be along this new line. It's a difficult thing, because the teachers themselves have to be youths that never age. We have to make a tremendous effort in that direction. It’s a great testing ground. There is a good deal of physical education, but the kind of physical education that is needed to create the youth that never ages – is it being conceived of anywhere in the world? Even with many clubs of physical education, at the most they believe in muscle building. And how many athletes, for example, lose their capacities by the time they reach thirty or thirty-five? Why is this happening, inspite of the tremendous physical education taken by these individuals? There is no research as to what is the secret of youth, that there are levels and levels of consciousness that determine our physical health, and that unless you develop those levels of consciousness physical health will not be an easy thing to achieve. Utilisation of the modern methods of physical education, and of other methods which can be available if you develop other systems of education – you put them all together and develop a new scheme of education. That is a task which I had conceived to be the task of Auroville.
Now if I come to Auroville, why should l spend my time training children to pass A level or O level? My energy should be spent developing these new concepts of education, so that I can prepare the children to face the problems that they will face. We think that the problems of our children will be the same problems which we are facing. This is not true. Already today, among parents all over the country – I met so many parents, and they complained, "My children do not want to read." This is one of the complaints today. "My children want to be glued to the television." "My children do not want guests to come to the house, they don't develop friendships." "They want to go to parties," The whole culture of study, of quest, is diminished to such an extent that parents are alarmed. This is happening even in the most affluent societies, this is one of the big problems. And when you inquire as to how these children will be able to face their life, which will be more difficult than the life that we are living today – are we so sure that the outside world is able to produce children who will be equipped to face the world of tomorrow? Educators are very worried about this subject. That's why UNESCO in 1972 published this learning society idea, that unless you create a learning society the world of tomorrow cannot be faced. And still this message, given to mankind, has hardly been received by mankind. They are still having the same syllabi, the same kinds of courses of study, the same kind of teachers – it's the same rigmarole. And people think that somehow everything can be resolved. We are not consciously looking into the world; we do not face the world squarely. I think Auroville gives you the time and the space to look into these problems, and to see how our children will be useful, truly useful, to the future.
This is our work. Our anxieties will be of a different kind, or should be of a different kind. What kind of career my child should have in the future – this whole idea of career... You know, when we started the Teacher’s Commissions in the country in 1983, two commissions of teachers were appointed, one for school teachers, another for higher education. And I was secretary of both these commissions, and we toured the whole country, and I found unfortunately that wherever I went teachers were only worried about one thing, they had no other demands: career development. So that year after year their pay increases, and reaches the highest possible level of pay. We tried to discuss many problems of education which are central, like learning to be, but very few people were interested in this. And this is true not only of India, but of all the countries in the world. It is not as if I'm saying that Indian teachers have a kind of a phobia, but all over the world teachers today want to be equated with the highest management people – this is their greatest ambition, that if a manager makes 45,000 rupees per month why should a teacher not get 45,000 rupees per month This is their great demand, as it were. And they demand from society only this much. What do you give to the society in return? Nothing in comparison to what should be given to the world.
It is very well recognized today that the world is breaking, because of this reason: that not many people are thinking seriously about the future.
In 1967 U Thant, who was at that time the Secretary General of the United Nations Organization, made a statement which was read out to the Mother. And she liked that statement so much that she wrote a letter to him appreciating what he had said and sending him the books of Sri Aurobindo. In that statement he had said – I am paraphrasing, not quoting exactly – that the world today produces enough to feed all the people of the world, and yet there is so much poverty and so much suffering, and this can be resolved if the world becomes one. It is because my nation should develop at the cost of other nations, that I shall have the possibility of exploiting the market here or there, instead of pulling all the resources of the whole world – therefore there is so much poverty. As far as production is concerned, the world produces enough. He even went one step farther and said that only the amount which is being spent in manufacturing armaments, if it is spent on feeding the people, the whole world can be fed. So he asked the question then, "What is the problem?" "What is the solution?" He said if the solution is change in the consciousness of people, then it is high time that we work on that problem.
Now this was1967. He saw very clearly that the basic problem of the world is a change of consciousness. Now what is the meaning of "a change of consciousness”? One of the things he had spoken of was a change in political habits. It's a very important word, a change in political habits. Our present political habits are so primitive that they are completely irrelevant to our present day needs. I don't want to develop this question about political habits – one day we can think of it together, because we are also doing a lot of work in the field of the political organisation of Auroville – but he spoke of this need. Now which society, which educational institution has taken up this task and said, "Let us prepare the children of the future, who will have a different state of consciousness"? Nobody has conceived of it. What is that change of consciousness, how a new consciousness can function, how that consciousness can develop – this is what I think nobody has conceived of, but Auroville is required to conceive of it and develop education accordingly. We need teachers and students for this kind of work. We are so fortunate that we have children here, we are so fortunate that we have teachers here – but if you don't develop the kind of education that is to be conceived, it will be as if we are losing time, losing an opportunity. Maybe then, at the end of the whole experiment, after some years we shall find that we need to go back to the old world, and declare that the experiment has failed.
But we are not here to fail, we don't want to fail, we must not fail. But for succeeding there should be a complete collaboration of all the people in Auroville. It's not as if your teachers are not teaching children properly – that is one way of looking at it.
Let us all work together. That's why I invite everybody, education is the problem of everybody. We all have to be engaged in educational problems. So this is the first proposition that I would like to make that we all sit together to plan education, from the youngest, the lowest level of education to the highest.
My second proposition is that this education has to be designed with great care. By "care" I mean with great responsibility, by taking advantage of all experiments that have been done in the field of education. That means that the teachers – and by "teachers" I mean all parents, teachers and others – all of us have to study what experiments have been done in the field of education. It is not as though it is the task only of those who are in Last School or in New Creation or in Transition or in Kindergarten. It's not only for them; it's the work of all of us to study the problems of education. We are all participants of this great work. It requires lots of seminars, lots of workshops. I would say it is worthwhile. Let us discuss all that has been done in the past in the world. Many experiments have been done even in ancient times, many utopias have been conceived on the basis of education. Plato wrote one full dialogue on education, long, long ago, thousands of years ago. He gave a design of education in that early time, how children should be educated. Aristotle wrote on animal intelligence and human intelligence and showed how many animals are superior in intelligence to human beings, which is true. A bird can create a nest which a human being may find it very difficult to create – it's a very small example, but very illustrative of the point. There are great works of Rousseau for example, who wrote on education, who spoke of freedom, of "holding the hand of the pupil" on the part of the teacher. How do you hold the hand of the pupil? Many humanists have spoken of education, people talk of personal development. And Sri Aurobindo Mother has written the most revolutionary things about education.
So we are not as it were on a blank slate as we are starting today. No, we can have a tremendous help today in our work if we really care to study and share together, as one team, like an army, if we all become educationalists and participate together in thinking of how education is to be promoted. And I feel that the experiments which were done by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother can give us tremendous help. Not that we are to be limited to those experiments, because those experiments were not conceived as closed doors or as arriving at a closed book, it was only initiated. In fact, l who participated personally, very humbly say that even after fifty years – l started these experiments at the age of twenty-six – after so many years 1 can simply say that I have just begun my understanding of the implications of that experiment. And these four phrases of which I spoke to you a little while ago – Last School, After School, Super School and No School – to my mind they seem extremely significant. Mother did not speak of these four in the Ashram school, it's a new program. And this is the place where that new program has to be developed.
All the four statements actually turn to one important message that we are not to be a school, basically. Education in Auroville is not to be the kind of education that is given in a school. Once Mother wrote a short statement: "A teacher coming to a platform and talking to the children is economical, but it is not education." It is economical, you can always have an economy. If you have fifty people sitting together at the same time and a teacher is appointed to teach French or English or mathematics, it's very economical. You need fewer teachers, you need fewer houses, everything is very fine. Your timetable can be made very easily, everything can be tested, you can certify, everything is economical. The only problem is, it is not education. And if you want real education then this is not appropriate to it. So when Mother speaks of these four terms, four phrases, one thing is very clear: that we are here to conceive of education and not of school. She wants education but not school. And this is very frightening, because we are all ourselves products of schools, and you ask anybody, in checking the world I have found everybody to be a good educationist. I have discussed problems of education with all sections of people in India and also in the world, and I find that anyone... Even adult education for example, when I discuss with someone how to promote adult education in the country, even merchants were able to give me advice on this subject, labourers were ready to give me advice on this subject, politicians were very much interested in finding the solutions. One politician actually came to visit me, with very great seriousness, and he said, "Adult education is a very easy problem, only you are not thinking of it seriously." 1 said, "What is that?" He said, "Give to every class teacher in the villages fifty rupees more so that in their spare time they will teach everybody in the village, and adult education will be provided. Only fifty rupees per month you have to add in your budget, that is all, and adult education will be taken care of.” A very simple solution he gave me. Only it is not workable.
So I find that in education everybody goes to his own experience, how he has been educated, remembers his best moments of education and says, "This should be done." And it is precisely this that we are to be free from. My experience of education may not be valid now, and I've tried to conceive of different things to be done, like the development of intuitive power. I have never been taught how to develop intuition in my school, in my college, in my university. And yet if I am to develop intuition in the children of tomorrow, of the future, how should I do it? What are the conditions of developing it? It’s only one example.
So what Mother wants is education but not schooling. And still, if you need schooling, Mother said Last School. Start with a school if you want it at all, but call it a Last School. If you are still afraid of going out of the school, call it After School. You still continue with the label of some kind of schooling, children go home and they do homework – that is After School. So the phobia of the school still continues with you and you do homework under the instructions of the school, it is After School. Then you proceed farther and go to Super School, you try to be quite different, develop some new ideas of schooling, develop schooling at higher and higher levels of education. But she ultimately wants No School. Ultimately you come out of the whole framework in which you have been educated.
So the third proposition I would like to make is: let us try to understand the message of No School. And if you read Sri Aurobindo's three principles of teaching that he enunciated in 1909, you will find him speaking of research as a method of study. It's a very important thing: Sri Aurobindo has said that whether child or adult, the best method of learning is research I don't quote him exactly because I don't remember the words, but if you read the whole statement that he has made it boils down to this, that the best method of learning is through research. And I feel very happy whenever l read Mother's program for Auroville where she speaks of research. That is the special work that Mother has given to Auroville, − research. If you therefore develop research as a fundamental motive, fundamental work, fundamental method, then it will give a new way for us. It is in that context that I was very happy when in Auroville there is a lot of talk about a Center for International Research in Human Unity, and I was compelled as it were to write down something on this subject so that we can all explore together a program of research. Not a syllabus, which is closed, but to think of various things that we need to research, and for which capacities are available, and in which children can participate. And because of that participation they can be useful, they can truly be equipped for the tasks of the future.
This is all I wanted to talk to you about, and I'm sorry that I've taken too long to say what I wanted to say, but you will pardon me for this length of time. I'd be happy if at a certain stage there was a meeting of parents, with sufficient time to be given... Even in groups I would like parents to meet, because they might not be able to speak of their problems freely in a big group. But whatever way you may think is necessary, I would be very happy to be with you all, to talk about it, to explore this. This is a very important program, and I would like everyone in Auroville to think of education, and to think of it with the idea that we are to conceive of that which nobody has conceived of. So thank you so much.