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Lions Roar : November 2012
mood was as dreary as the March driz- zle outside. On the first day of term last September, my eight students had gen- erously shared their essays on that day’s topic: “What do I want to improve about my life?” Delilah wanted to get a better job and lose weight. Jake wanted to quit smoking. Bastian wanted to go to college and become a lawyer. They all wanted to pass the GED. Even the grammar exercise was lively and productive. In a half hour’s time, nearly every student learned how to punctuate a compound sentence. “That’s the first time I understood this,” said a young woman named Rebecca, clapping her hands. Was there a better example of basic goodness? Here was a group of people who, either through poor judgment or bad luck, had missed a crucial life step: getting a high school diploma. They had difficult, exhausting jobs—janitor, shoe salesman, fry cook—and they were so far behind. How tempting it would be to give up, grab a couple of Big Macs after their shift, and kick back with an episode of Jerseylicious. Instead, they came to the Time–Life cafeteria and listened intently as I described the proper use of a semico- lon. I felt like I had fallen in love. As the weeks went on, many students proved to be excellent dharma teach- ers—especially for someone trying to drop preconceived ideas. One evening, a man named Robert asked me to work with him on the essay topic “Describe a big change in your life.” A squat, muscular man in a gray hoodie and black do-rag, Robert described his big change: he had an apartment now and was no longer liv- ing on the street. I blinked. Yeah, that qualifies. Then I showed him an outline template that would enable to him organize his thoughts and explain the impact his one-bedroom had on his life: (a) he’d gotten a job, (b) he’d returned to school, and (c) he now had a place to call his own. He picked up the template and nodded. “This is good,” he said. But for every moment that I felt like the Hilary Swank character in an uplift- ing teacher dramedy, there were doz- ens more that ranged from mundane to Is It Possible to create an academically excellent K-12 school which will also “uncondition” the minds of both students and teachers? David E. Moody presents a rare view of renowned teacher and philosopher J. Krishnamurti at work—with students and teachers, parents and administrators, in their common effort to do just that. “...A grand experiment in education... many vivid glimpses of the personal presence and core teachings of one of the last century’s most fascinating spiritual figures...and the challenges... facing those committed to actualizing Krishnamurti’s dream of a new kind of school.” Sean Kelly, California Institute of Integral Studies AT MAJOR ONLINE BOOKSELLERS OR QUEST BOOKS SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2012 29