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From the Archive - 21.07.1967

Yoga timetabled

Education nowadays takes so many forms and gets so much publicity for it that the observer can scarcely be surprised unless he comes upon an institution where they are learning their twice-times table. Have senior pupils in Huddersfield been taught sheep shearing? Are the girls of a Midland grammar school mounting an expedition to the Hindu Kush?

Even so, there are moments when we can still be astonished, if not at the variety of the curriculum then at least at its continuing ingenuity. The newspapers have just given us such a moment. The children at Colchester school, they say, are practising yoga.

Plenty of teachers will find nothing novel in the report. They can point to some of their own pupils who have been in a trance for years. Their immutability in the lesson matched only by the speed with which, when the bell sounds, they get up and go. For these masters of detachment, even in the most conventional class they sometimes get an urge to commune with the infinite.

These, however, are the accidents of schooling. At Colchester, the infant mystics squat, encouraged and approved by authority. You could call it an educational breakthrough were the term not a misnomer. For if the best of our lessons have hitherto had a common trait it was that they kept the pupil on the go. Motivation, meaningful play, creative activity - the very jargon of the pundits showed the progressive line. Now along comes yoga to stand these ideas on their head. For the progressive pupils of tomorrow, activity will obviously be out.

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