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Educating the Educator

1. The first thing a teacher must ask himself, when he decides that he wants to teach, is what exactly he means by teaching. Is he going to teach the usual subjects in the habitual way? Does he want to condition the child to become a cog in the social machine, or help him to be an integrated, creative human being, a threat to false values? And if the educator is to help the student to examine and understand the values and influences that surround him and of which he is a part, must he not be aware of them himself? If one is blind, can one help others to cross to the other shore? Surely, the teacher himself must first begin to see. He must be constantly alert, intensely aware of his own thoughts and feelings, aware of the ways in which he is conditioned, aware of his activities and his responses; for out of this watchfulness comes intelligence, and with it a radical transformation in his relationship to people and to things.

2. The right kind of education begins with the educator, who must understand himself and be free from established patterns of thought;for what he is, that he imparts. If he has not been rightly educated, what can he teach except the same mechanical knowledge on which he himself has been brought up? The problem, therefore, is not the child,but the parent and the teacher; the problem is to educate the educator.If we who are the educators do not understand ourselves, if we do not understand our relationship with the child but merely stuff him with information and make him pass examinations, how can we possibly bring about a new kind of education? The pupil is there to be guided and helped; but if the guide, the helper is himself confused and narrow, nationalistic and theory-ridden, then naturally his pupil will be what he is, and education becomes a source of further confusion and strife. If we see the truth of this, we will realize how important it is that we begin to educate ourselves rightly. To be concerned with our own re-education is far more necessary than to worry about the future well-being and security of the child.

To educate the educator – that is, to have him understand himself -is one of the most difficult undertakings, because most of us are already crystallized within a system of thought or a pattern of action; we have already given ourselves over to some ideology, to a religion, or to a particular standard of conduct. That is why we teach the child what to think and not how to think.