Oak Grove at the KFI Teaching Conference in India

Last month, our Dean of Studies, Will Hornblower, embarked on a trip to India to attend the annual Krishnamurti Schools Teaching Conference in Chennai. Here’s what he found there.

Dean of Studies travels to IndiaWhat took you to India?
I went to attend the annual Krishnamurti Schools Teaching Conference, which took place in Chennai. It was hosted by The School of the Krishnamurti Foundation of India (KFI) and took place both at The School and at the KFI in downtown Chennai, where I was staying.

Who else was at the conference?
There were teachers from all of the five schools that are operated by the KFI as well as teachers from schools that are affiliated with the KFI – schools that aren’t owned by the KFI but work with it. There were about 200 people in attendance, including teachers, heads of schools, and trustees. I was the only person from Oak Grove.

What were the main topics of discussion?
There were a number of different themes to the conference. One speaker, who was a head of school, talked about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Krishnamurti’s view on it, and how to adapt education with AI. Another speaker, who was an alum of one of the schools and an environmental activist and who used to run Greenpeace in India, spoke about climate change, approaching it from a teaching and philosophical perspective. Another talk was about the fragmentation of self and how people can take on an identity that then becomes their whole personality. And then I was part of a panel discussion on the subject of identity as well. After each talk we would break off into smaller discussion groups, and I moderated one of those discussions.

Was there anything in particular at the conference that inspired you to implement here at Oak Grove?
One of the things I really enjoyed hearing about was how connected some of the other schools are to the communities around them. They run projects with local environmental groups or local community activists or get students into service projects. This was something I got really energized about, and coming back here, I want to look into ways in which we can do that and get more connected to what’s around us.

Outside of the conference, what were the biggest highlights of the trip?
One of the great things about the conference was that there were a lot of people there from other schools, who weren’t local to Chennai, so there were a bunch of us who went sightseeing together. We visited a very famous temple complex just outside of the city of Chennai called Mamallapuram, where we went with one of the parents from The School who is writing a children’s book about it. He kind of took us on a field trip and told us all about the temple in the same way he would tell kids about it, and that was really cool. Another highlight was that I got to attend a World Cup Cricket match between South Africa and Pakistan. Lastly, I appreciated how kind and welcoming my hosts were. The conference organizers and the staff at the KFI were so appreciative that I made the long trip out for the conference, and they really went the extra mile to make me feel honored and welcome. I hope that they will come to visit Oak Grove so that I can reciprocate their kindness.

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