Question: What kind of education should my child have, in order to face this chaotic world?

Krishnamurti: This is really a vast question, isn’t it, not to be answered in a couple of minutes. But perhaps we can put it briefly, and it may be gone into further afterwards.

The problem is not what kind of education the child should have but rather that the educator needs education, the parent needs education. Do we not need a totally different kind of education?—not the mere cultivation of memory, which gives the child a technique, which will help him to get a job, a livelihood, but an education that will make him truly intelligent. Intelligence is the comprehension of the whole process, the total process, of life, not knowledge of one fragment of life.

So the problem is, really: can we, the grown-up people, help the child to grow in freedom, in complete freedom? This does not mean allowing him to do what he likes, but can we help the child to understand what it is to be free because we understand ourselves what it is to be free?

Our education now is merely a process of conformity, helping the child to conform to a particular pattern of society in which he will get a job, become outwardly respectable, go to church, conform, and struggle until he dies. We do not help him to be free inwardly so that as he grows older, he is able to face all the complexities of life—which means helping him to have the capacity to think, not teaching him what to think. For this, the educator himself must be capable of freeing his own mind from all authority, from all fear, from all nationality, from the various forms of belief and tradition, so that the child understands—with your help, with your intelligence—what it is to be free, what it is to question, to inquire, and to discover.

But you see, we do not want such a society; we do not want a different world. We want the repetition of the old world, only modified, made a little better, a little more polished. We want the child to conform totally, not to think at all, not to be aware, not to be inwardly clear—because if he is so inwardly clear, there is danger to all our established values. So, what is really involved in this question is how to bring education to the educator. How can you and I—because we, the parents, the society, are the educators—how can you and I help to bring about clarity in ourselves so that the child may also be able to think freely, in the sense of having a still mind, a quiet mind, through which new things can be perceived and come into being?

This is really a very fundamental question. Why is it that we are being educated at all? Just for a job? Just to accept Catholicism, or Protestantism, or Communism or Hinduism? Just to conform to a certain tradition, to fit into a certain job? Or, is education something entirely different?—not the cultivation of memory, but the process of understanding. Understanding does not come through analysis; understanding comes only when the mind is very quiet, unburdened, no longer seeking success and therefore being thwarted, afraid of failure. Only when the mind is still, only then is there a possibility of understanding, and having intelligence. Such education is the right kind of education, from which obviously other things follow.

But very few of us are interested in all that. If you have a child, you want him to have a job; that is all you are concerned with—what is going to happen to his future. Should the child inherit all the things that you have—the property, the values, the beliefs, the traditions—or must he grow in freedom, so as to discover for himself what is true? That can only happen if you yourself are not inheriting, if you yourself are free to inquire, to find out what is true.

Excerpt from the Second Public Talk in Amsterdam
19th May 1955