The Imperfect Education Essay, Research Paper
The Imperfect Education
Throughout the ages mankind has sought out enlightenment through education. Each individual has a different view on what the ideal education is. Much of the world?s history has fallen through the cracks due to the sexual and racial biases of past historians. Obtaining a good education is possible through language knowledge, dedication, and an equally balanced diet of historical information. Malcolm X spent some time in prison and became a very learned person because of it. Adrienne Rich believes that people should claim an education rather than receive one. Edith Hamilton believes that people seeking an education should look towards the past as a basis for learning. Is it possible to obtain a perfect education? Anyone is capable of obtaining a good education, however it does not come easy, you must be willing to work for it.
Malcolm X spent a good deal of time incarcerated, which gave him an opportunity to better himself through learning. Malcolm spent a good deal of time reading but he often found himself being unable to comprehend the text. After much frustration he checked out a dictionary from the prison library. He beleived that the best thing he did was get a dictionary and learn some words. Malcolm began copying the dictionary page by page and studying what he had written until he had unlocked a New World of knowledge. With a newly broadened vocabulary Malcolm went in search of knowledge. He would read anything he could get his hands on. He was continuously reading, from the moment he woke up, to past the prison?s ?lights out? call at night. His dedication to books proved to be a most valuable tool. Malcolm was an avid student of Mr. Muhammad?s (founder of the Black Muslims) teachings. Mr. Muhammad told Malcolm of how history had been ?whitened? due to the excess of white historians. Malcolm saw that his knowledge of history was incomplete due to the lack of recorded black history. He decided to seek out a more defined history of his people. After a bit of a search he unearthed some books that provided a more detailed history of non-whites. Through extensive searching Malcolm was able to learn about all of the worlds people, not just the Whites. If there was ever a dedicated man Malcolm X was that man.
In a speech given to the graduating class of 1977 at Douglas (Women?s) College, Adrienne Rich stated some of her views on education. She strongly believed that a student must claim an education rather than simply just receiving one. In her speech she spoke of a responsibility to oneself to refuse to let other people think for them; meaning ?learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work?(58). Language and personal thought were crucial. Rich suggested that there was a more indispensable experience that women owed themselves; An experience that finally depended on the individual?s interactions with the world. A person must be dedicated and must take responsibility toward their own self. Rich believes that education was not complete due to the majority of the histories were written by, typically white, men. Rich had often found herself ??pouring eagerly over books with titles like: The Decent of Man; Man and His Symbols; Irrational Man; The Phenomenon of Man; The Future of Man?-books pretending to describe a ?human? reality that does not include over one-half the human species?(57). She stressed personal betterment for all people, women in particular. According to Rich education was not complete due to several factors, however a person could get a better handle on education with a dedication to personal thought.
Edith Hamilton believes that the true key to a more complete education lies in the past. She states that we should model our education after that of the Greeks. True freedom only comes through education. The Athenians ?were free because of a willing obedience to law, not only to written, but still more the unwritten, kindness and compassion and unselfishness and the many qualities which cannot be unforced, which depend on a man?s free choice, but without which men cannot live together.?(755) The Athenians knew that before one could become educated he must first be true to his own self. Hamilton saw the Greeks as a very dedicated people. She talked of a poet hundreds of years before Plato that had said, ?Before the gates of Excellence the high gods, have placed sweat. Long is the road thereto and steep and rough at first, But when the height is won, then is there ease.?(755) If a person wishes to come a more educated he must first put in the effort and hard work it requires. Hamilton believed that a true education was only possible when people see that it has to do with persons, instead of movements. She saw education as sheer pleasure. Hamilton knew that some of the past must be disregarded, but what was thrown away should be done cautiously. Once history is lost, it is gone forever and it can not be replaced. According to Hamilton, the classics are very important to modern education and unfortunately they have almost been totally lost. The Greeks had a passion for thinking. To them a good deal of education came from genuine thought. Hamilton quotes Plato saying to ?love what is beautiful and hate what is ugly.?(752) Greek children were taught ?to hate clumsiness and awkwardness; they loved grace and practiced it.?(752) A fairly good idea, except that at first everyone is clumsy and ideas are awkward until we learn and practice them. We can learn a lot from the ancient Greeks, however a complete education is compiled of much more than just the past.
A perfect education is made up of many contributing factors, possibly to many to imagine.
The great thinkers of our time hold a lot of the same principles and ideas in common, even though their ideas are very different. Malcolm X and Adrienne Rich are two totally different people from two totally different walks of life, however they both see that History is not complete due to the historian?s predisposed sexual and racial biases. Malcolm X, Adrienne Rich, and Edith Hamilton all know that language is very important to becoming an educated member of society. Can a person ever achieve a perfect education? Some people say yes, while other disagree. It all breaks down to how a person defines a perfect education. For some people a perfect education may simply be acquiring enough knowledge to become skilled in a certain field of work. For others a perfect education can never be reached due to the inadequacies of society. It is not entirely possible to define the perfect education because of our ever changing society. It is often said that nothing is perfect, that seems to hold true with education. It seems that Malcolm X, Adrienne Rich, and Edith Hamilton like so many of us have not completely found what they are looking for, and it is very possible they never will.
Hamilton, Edith. ?The Ever Present Past.? The Harper and Row Reader: Liberal Education Through Reading and Writing. 3rd Ed. Wayne C. Booth and Marshall W. Gregory. New York: Harper and Row, 1992. 750-757
Malcolm X. ?Freedom Through Learning to Read.? The Harper and Row Reader: Liberal Education Through Reading and Writing. 3rd Ed. Wayne C. Booth and Marshall W. Gregory. New York: Harper and Row, 1992. 47-54
Rich, Adrienne. ?Claiming an Education.? The Harper and Row Reader: Liberal Education Through Reading and Writing. 3rd Ed. Wayne C. Booth and Marshall W. Gregory. New York: Harper and Row, 1992. 56-59